How To Properly Iron A Shirt

A well pressed shirt will make you look sharp and increase your confidence on the job or at your next event. Learn how to do it properly and efficiently.

Equipment Needed

  • Ironing Board

  • Steam or classic (non-steam) Iron

  •  Water spray

  •  Hand towel

Steps Involved

1. Remove collar stays (AKA collar bones collar or stiffeners)

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Collar stays should be removed before washing to prevent them from breaking or bending and a hot iron can make plastic stays brittle. Whatever material they are made of ironing on them can leave an imprint on the face of the collar, believe me, this is not a good look!

2. Collar and other multiple layered items

For beginners it is often better to start by ironing the parts of the shirt with multiple layers of cloth, these include the collar, cuffs, placket, pockets and yoke. Multiple layers of cloth can take longer to iron, but once they are in shape they’re more resilient to creasing than the single ply areas of the shirt which will crease easily when moving the shirt.

3. Placket and front buttons

The placket is the cloth at the front of the shirt with the buttonholes and has at least 2 layers of fabric and often more depending on the style of the shirt. After the collar this is usually the most noticeable part of the shirt (unless you’re wearing a necktie, which will hide it).  Gently steam iron (or dampen with a water spray) the front first to flatten the placket and then iron from the rear first with steam and then with a dry iron to remove any excess moisture as damp cloth creases easily. The easiest way to iron the buttons is from the rear. Place a terry cloth towel on the ironing board and the shirt button side down on top of it. As you iron the buttons will sink into the towel which flattens the shirt cotton. Do not press hard or continuously run the iron back and forth on the button stitches as being too aggressive will weaken them.

4. The Collar

Smoothing the collar without any creases while avoiding over ironing the collar tips is paramount. Collar tips can be damaged easily as they are most often the thickest part of the shirt where two seams join together. If the ironing board cover isn’t well padded the iron will catch on the tip and cause wear, which eventually will show. Some collars stretch over time and there could be an excess of cloth at the crease when the collar is laid flat, this usually disappears when the collar returns to it natural position when worn so don’t worry about trying to iron the collar flat as this will probably cause creases. Lightly iron the face (the side that will show) of the collar (without using the full weight of the iron) straightening the cloth to prevent any creases forming when the back of the collar is ironed. Iron from the outside of the collar towards the middle and repeat on the other side. Turn over and iron the back of the collar, this can be done lightly if there is an excess of fabric. It is more important that the outside of collar looks good than the inside so this step maybe skipped. Turn the collar over and finish the outside with a dry iron (steam off), make sure there are no creases.

5. Yoke (shoulders)

The yoke can be ironed on the inside as well as the outside especially when the material is either new or thick.

6. Cuffs and Sleeves

Some people find it easier to iron cuffs and sleeves with a sleeve (ironing) board (also know as sleeve pressing board). As these are not always available I will cover sleeve boards and other ironing accessories at a later date. Lay the cuff flat on the board and iron the inside, iron from the outer hem towards the sleeve if the cuff won’t lay completely flat. Iron as much of the sleeve as possible, especially the area behind the placket (sleeve opening). Turn the cuff over and iron the other side. Lay the sleeve flat on the ironing board with the placket up Pull the hem straight and then smooth out the sleeve using your finger tips (keeping the hem straight). Your finger tips should be able to feel if the layer of cloth on the underside is flat, if not do not iron the sleeve until it is otherwise you will iron in a crease. If the shirt cloth is difficult to handle lightly dampen it with a water spray. Keeping the hem straight and iron on both sides. If there is a button mid way on the cuff placket (opening) be careful not to iron over it when the placket is against the ironing board as it will leave a mark, usually its better to raise the iron a little and skim the surface to avoid this

7. Shirt Back and Two Front Panels

I prefer to start ironing the front panel of the shirt with the buttons first followed by the back and then the other panel finishing with the placket. Otherwise iron the back panel of the shirt first and then the two front panels. 

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