Intro: The Practical Guide to Ironing a Dress Shirt
Ironing a dress shirt doesn't have to be frustrating or time consuming. With the right strategy, anyone can quickly become a master at ironing a dress shirt! In this guide, you'll find everything you need to know to iron your dress shirt quickly and correctly.
Before You Start
Before you get started, there are 3 items you need to have to iron a dress shirt:
1) An iron - The heavier the better, because this allows you to iron out creases more easily
2) An ironing board - Get a large ironing board if possible, this will help
3) Water - the steam your iron generates from the water is going to make ironing a lot easier.
Optional Item: Starch
There's a big debate on whether or not you should use starch when ironing a shirt. On one hand, starch can help your dress shirts stay ironed for a longer period of time. Nevertheless, starch is also known to damage dress shirts though repetitive use - it can cause wear and discoloration of the shirt. Applying starch is also a small, but additional step required in the ironing process, if you choose to use it.
Step 1: Preparing the Iron and Shirt
Before you can dive into ironing, you need to do a little bit of preparation.
Preparing the Iron: The first action you need to take to prepare your iron is to fill it with water. Take a look at the front of your iron. This is the end of the iron that has forms point (away from the side that contains the wire). On this end you will either find a hole or a plastic tab that you can lift in order to reveal a hole. You water needs to go inside this hole. Take a water bottle, and insert water into the hole with the iron sitting vertically at its base, pointing up. You can stop filling the water as soon as you can see visually see the water from the top of the hole, when you are looking down into it.
After you fill the iron with water, you need to plug it in and select the correct temperature. There is a dial on your iron that you can adjust to set its temperature. The dial will let you adjust temperature based on the material of the shirt you want to iron. To find the material of your dress shirt, take a look at the tag on the shirt, the name of the material will be written on the tag.
Preparing the Shirt: The only requirement to prepare the shirt is make sure that it is unbuttoned. However, making sure you iron the shirt as soon as it comes out of the dryer is the single best step you can take to make the process of ironing easy. In fact, if a shirt is just a little bit moist when it comes out of the dryer, it is in the perfect shape to be ironed.
Step 2: Iron the Back
A great place to start ironing is from the back of the shirt because it relatively easily to iron and lets you get a feel of ironing. To start, take the back of the shirt and lay it flat against the ironing board and align one of the seams between the back and the front of the shirt against the edge of the board. This will allow you to iron about half of the back of your shirt, since about half of the back of the shirt will be lying up on the ironing board. Take the iron and move it back and forth along area of the shirt exposed on top of the board, ironing out all creases.
When you complete ironing this half of the shirt, move the shirt so that the other seam between the front and back of the shirt lies against the edge of the ironing board, so that the other half of the back is lying on the face of the ironing board. Take the iron and again move it back and forth, ironing out all creases in the process.
Step 3: Iron the Sleeves
To iron the sleeves of the shirt, take a sleeve of the shirt and lay it down on the ironing board so that the seam at the top and the seam at the bottom of the sleeve lay flush against the face of the board and the cuff of the sleeve lays flat on the board. Keeping on hand on the sleeve to stabilize the shirt, use the other hand to take the iron and move it back and forth, ironing the creases out of the shirt. Be careful not to iron creases onto the side of the sleeve that's currently touching the ironing board as you iron the top layer of the sleeve. Iron the cuff by pressing the iron on the thicker fabric of the cuff, making sure you don't create any new crease on the cuff in the process. When you finish, flip the shirt around so you can ensure that no creases have been ironed into the back side of the sleeve you just ironed. If any creases were formed, lay the back side of the sleeve down and repeat the same process to iron out the creases.
Follow the same steps on the other sleeve as well to iron the other sleeve of the shirt.
Step 4: Iron the Front
The front of the shirt can be broken down into two parts: the half of the front that contains the buttons and the half which does not contain buttons. Lay the half with the buttons down on the ironing board so that the seam between the front and back of the shirt aligns with the edge of the board. With the whole half exposed on the face of the board, take your iron and start ironing out the creases. As you get to the buttons, make sure to iron around the buttons as opposed to on ironing on top of the buttons. If you place the hot metal of your iron on top of the buttons, you risk the chance of melting them on to your iron.
When you complete this, iron the other half of the front by again aligning the seam of this half against the edge of the board to get the entire half of the front of the shirt onto the board.
Step 5: Iron the Yolk
The yolk of the shirt is the part that covers your shoulders and upper back. This part of the shirt is ironed by placing one corner shoulder of the shirt over the triangular end of the ironing board, with at least half of the upper back section (which is connected to the shoulder) laying flat on the board. With one shoulder and half of the back fully exposed on the ironing board, take your iron and iron out the creases on this part of the shirt.
Repeat this process for the other shoulder by placing it over the triangular end of the ironing board and laying the other half of the upper back flat on the board, then ironing this section.
Step 6: Iron the Collar
The collar is now the last remaining piece of the shirt left to iron. Start by opening up the collar completely and laying it flat against the ironing board. While keeping the collar in place with one hand, use the other hand to iron out the collar using the tip of the iron. Move slowly, making sure not to create any additional creases as you move your iron along the collar. Once you complete this, fold the collar back to its original form and lay the long rectangular face of the collar facing up against the board. Press your iron down on this end of the collar to give it shape.