Learn how to iron a shirt easily and properly! Ironing is among the most tedious and time-consuming tasks, most especially if it involves shirts. That’s because they’re one of the trickiest garments out there. When you use the right technique, though, you’ll have crease- and wrinkle-free, crisper shirts that you can wear proudly anywhere.
How To Iron a Shirt
Successfully ironing shirts begins with washing them properly and how you take them out of the washer. Experts say that the best shirts to iron are fresh-laundered ones. Also, make sure you shake the shirt out, smooth it with your hands, button all buttons, and hang it instead of folding it to prevent creating stubborn creases and wrinkles.
Step 1 - Prepare the Items
The technique in ironing a shirt will depend on whether you’re working on a tee-shirt or a dress shirt. With that said, you would need to prepare the same items, including:
No matter what type of iron you own, make sure it’s clean before using it. After all, you should clean your iron prior to storage.
Ensure the base is free from stain, rust, or any other sediments. If dirty or you’re unsure, do a trial run, wherein you iron an old white cloth. If the iron leaves any type of stain, make a 2:1 solution of distilled water and white vinegar.
Place it in the iron’s water tank, let the steam run, and carefully wipe off the base. If your iron has no steam function, just wipe the base with the solution.
2. Ironing Board
Similar to the iron, you need a clean ironing board. If you don’t have one, it’s okay to use a wide desk or table, as long as you place a plain, lint-free cloth on top of it. However, the ironing board will make the task quicker and easier. You don’t need anything fancy anyway; you can buy the standard ones. (Further Reading: Pressing Tools)
Check your iron manufacturer’s recommendation of which type of water should be used for the water tank. If in doubt, it’s best to mix a 1:1 solution of distilled and filtered tap water. If your iron doesn’t have a steam or spray feature, you can get a spray bottle or mister and fill it with distilled water.
The water’s purpose is to reset your shirt’s fabric to an unwrinkled, repressed state, as well as reduce the risk of burning the fabric. Keep in mind that, generally, only cotton and linen fabric materials can withstand steam. For the rest of the materials, using a spray or mist bottle with water is recommended. If the care label states otherwise, then please follow the manufacturer's instructions.
4. Clothes Hanger or Hanging Rod
Ideally, you should fold the shirt immediately after ironing, but you won’t be able to do so if you’ve lots to iron. Thus, it’s best to hang them using a hanger or a portable hanging rod. After all, you need to hang the clothes prior to ironing them or once they’re out of the washer, spinner, or dryer.
Step 2 - Check the Shirt’s Label
Checking the shirt’s care label and laundry symbols are important for you to identify the type of fabric it’s made of, as well as the iron settings. Sort your shirts out according to the iron’s heat setting from low to high so that you don’t have to wait for the iron to cool down for the next set of shirts.
Here are some common ironing symbols you will find on your shirts.
Likewise, different materials require different techniques, namely:
- Linen: Iron inside out, especially darker-colored ones.
- Cotton: Should be slightly damp.
- Cotton-Blend: Iron inside out or place a thin cloth between the shirt and the iron.
- Polyester, Satin, and Silk: Place a handkerchief or cotton pressing cloth in between the iron and shirt.
Step 3 - Set Up the Iron Board and Iron
Set up your ironing board, making sure it’s stable and the side where you place the iron is near an electric outlet. This way, you won’t have issues with short cords or the cord getting in your way while ironing.
Plug the iron and adjust the knob to the right temperature or setting for the first set of shirts you would iron. Wait until it reaches the right temperature.
Step 4 - Prepare the Shirts
Check if the shirts have stains since when they’re exposed to heat, they might melt and get transferred to the iron's plate, ruining the whole shirt. Try to remove the stains using diluted vinegar before proceeding. If you can’t remove them, then it’s best not to iron them and wash them again using stain removal techniques or with the help of a pro.
Turn shirts inside out, if needed, or if they're colored to prevent quick fading, and then hang them back. While the shirts are hanging, get your spray bottle with water and lightly spray the shirts. Then, unbutton all buttons.
Step 5 - Start Ironing
Keeping in mind the specific instructions above (Step #2) regarding fabric materials, you can start ironing your shirt. That is vertically or horizontally, and not in a circular motion. Since you might have a tee or a dress shirt, let’s learn how to iron each shirt properly.
- Lay your t-shirt flat but not too stretched on top of the ironing board and fit it like you were putting it on another person.
- Using your hands, carefully smooth out any visible wrinkles to flatten them.
- Spray or introduce steam to the first area you need to iron.
- Get your iron and press it slightly on the slightly moist or wet area of the shirt. Ensure you don’t move it while pressed on the shirt. Don’t do it too long as it might burn the shirt.
- Lift the iron, spray, or introduce steam to the next spot and iron as instructed above. Repeat on other areas until you’ve ironed the whole shirt.
- Rotate the shirt and repeat all the steps.
Dress, Buttoned, and/or Collared Shirts
These shirts are a bit trickier to iron because of the buttons and several parts. Follow the steps below, in the same sequence, to iron these types of shirt correctly and successfully.
How to Iron a Shirt - Cuffs
If you’re ironing a long-sleeved shirt with cuffs, open them out so that you can iron the inside area before the outer.
- Spray or introduce steam to the cuff.
- Slightly press the iron on the cuff, moving slowly from the edge to the middle until the other edge of the cuff. If you reach the area where the button is, make sure the iron moves around and not over it.
- Close the cuff and iron the outer part.
- Repeat all the steps on the next cuff.
How to Iron a Shirt - Sleeves
- Lay the sleeve flat on the iron board, and smooth it out with your hand.
- Spray or introduce steam.
- Slightly press the iron on the bottom seam or the spot where the cuff and sleeve meets.
- Move the iron in one direction until you reach the other end of the sleeve.
- Turn the sleeve over, and if the other side needs ironing or touch up, do so by following the same procedure.
- Repeat the steps on the other sleeve.
How to Iron a Shirt - Collar
- Lay the collar flat on the iron board, with the backside facing up.
- Spray or introduce steam, then slightly press the iron on one of the edges.
- Move the iron toward the middle part of the collar until you reach the other end.
- Turn the shirt and work on the other side of the collar.
How to Iron a Shirt - Yoke and Shoulders
Those unfamiliar with what the yoke is, it’s the top part of the shirt’s shoulder forming a triangle.
- To iron this area, slip one of the sleeves over the ironing board’s narrowest part.
- Make sure the yoke lays flat.
- Spray or introduce steam to the yoke.
- Slightly press the iron in the middle part and move toward the shoulders.
- Flip the shirt and repeat on the other side.
How to Iron a Shirt - Front and Placket
- Place the side with buttons on the widest part of your ironing board with the buttonhole panel first.
- Begin ironing the plackets or the area where the buttons and holes are, starting from the top. Make sure you use the iron’s pointy edge to work around the buttons; again, not over them.
- Next, iron the rest of the shirt’s front. If there’s a pocket, start ironing from the outside.
- Do the same for the other side or the one without the buttons. Make sure you flatten the buttonholes.
How to Iron a Shirt - Back
The back part of the shirt might seem like the easiest to iron, but if it has pleats, you must take care not to ruin them.
- Completely lay the back of the opened shirt on your ironing board.
- Spray or introduce steam.
- Press the iron, starting from the bottom to the top. If there are pleats, iron underneath the pleats first, and then iron on top before working the rest of the shirt’s back.
- If the ironing board can’t accommodate the whole back part of the shirt, make sure you re-position it to iron each area.
Step 6 - Let It Cool and Hang or Fold
For t-shirts, lay them on a flat surface and let them cool. Then, either hang or fold them properly. On the other hand, hang the freshly ironed dress shirt and button the top and third buttons.
Alternatives to Ironing a Shirt
The only real alternative to ironing a shirt is to use a clothes steamer. These ironing tools use a constant spray of steam pouring out of a nozzle. By running the nozzle over the shirt, the steam relaxes the fibers and reduces the wrinkles. Clothes steamers are particularly useful for shirts with extra tricky details such as ruffles.
For shirts with mild wrinkles, hang them in the bathroom while you are having a shower. Similar to the clothes steamer, the steam in the air from your hot shower will relax the fabric and remove some but probably not all of the wrinkles. This is an amazing trick you can use when traveling.
How to Iron a Shirt - In Conclusion
Learning how to iron your shirt made of different materials will ensure you can wear a shirt free of creases and wrinkles in no time. Whether you’re wearing an ironed tee-shirt at the grocery or in the park or a dress shirt during a business meeting, at work, or on a date, you’ll feel confident that you look good. Just remember always to check the shirt’s tag or label before ironing it.
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