There is such a thing as a set of basic skills every independent man should master, and how to iron a shirt is one of them. Unless, of course, you would like to call your mom or spend a small fortune on dry cleaning services every time you need your work shirt looking good.
Ironing a dress shirt is something most men don’t look forward to – it just sounds like a mission. Granted, it can be, after all the material most shirts are made of is usually tougher to flatten and thus requires special care even when washing.
However, the good news is that ironing shirts is easier than most men think. Hard to believe? Then check out the following guide on how to iron a dress shirt.
The Tools You Need
A plumber doesn’t fix the sink without a wrench, a chef needs his knives sharpened, so when ironing a dress shirt you too will need tools.
- Iron: If you are to invest in anything on this list this is the item. The variety of designs, materials, and prices can be overwhelming, so you want to focus on the three main features of an iron – soleplate, high heat capacity, and steam delivery system. A good quality soleplate ensures even heat distribution and smooth cleaning, which lessens the chances of damaging the material. An iron with a high heat capacity is able to reshape all sorts of fabric in less time. A proper steam system makes the ironing less bumpy and moisturizes the fabric evenly as you slide the iron around.
- Ironing Board: Regardless of the model, you want a sturdy ironing board to do the job comfortably. So as long as the board doesn’t wobble and the surface has no dents or holes you should be fine. Don’t be scared to look for second-hand alternatives – chances are you will find something ideal for half the price of a new one.
- Spray Bottle: By all means, recycle. However, make sure that the container you have chosen as a spray bottle wasn’t full of bleach or toilet cleaner. It’s rather self-explanatory: this tool will be used to spray water over the fabric before ironing, as well as dealing with inconvenient wrinkles that pop up along the process.
- Water: If you wish and can afford to be pedantic, feel free to source water with low concentrations of magnesium and calcium and devoid of microscopic dirt. Then again, regular drinking water also does the job just fine.
- Sizing: Again, this is an option for those methodical men out there who aim for the state-of-the-art in everything. In the end, all that sizing will provide is an extra crispness to your shirt.
- Shirt: Any kind of dress shirt that is creased – and clean!
- Hanger: Any type of hanger for the post-ironing stage.
How to Iron the Shirt
Most processes begin with preparation – same with ironing shirts.
Take your spray bottle and squirt water all over the shirt until it is slightly humid, making it easier to work the iron along the surface. Alternatively, you can take the shirt out of the dryer a few minutes before the cycle is complete or even hang it in the bathroom while you shower so the hot water steam moistens and softens the material.
The collar is the first area to be ironed. After setting the iron to the ideal temperature according to the shirt’s tag, outstretch the collar and iron both sides of it, beginning at the inner/lower edges and working your way towards the center until the outer edges and points.
Next, are the shoulders. With the top button buttoned-up, place one side of the shirt near the edge of the ironing board and iron the shoulder section. Repeat the process with the other side, then flip it upside down and do the same.
Unbutton the cuffs and iron the external surface, then the internal one. Make sure to slide the iron around the buttons, never over them. After, re-button the cuffs, stretch one of them onto the board making sure the stitches are juxtaposed and go over it once again. Do the same with the other cuff.
Pick a sleeve and extend it as flat as you can onto the ironing board. Begin by ironing the front-side of the sleeve and then repeat the process with the backside. You can feel free to choose whether to iron from the shoulders towards the wrists or the other way around – although the first tends to form fewer wrinkles.
When ironing the shirt’s front you should leave it unbuttoned and iron one side at the time. Again, make sure you have stretched the material well enough (it helps to “dress” the ironing board with the side you are tackling first) and work down from the shoulders to the lower edges. Remember to contour the buttons slowly.
The backside of the shirt is the last section to be ironed. Once you are finished with the front, flip the shirt and begin ironing from the shoulders downwards.
Now that you have finished with the ironing, hang it with the collar buttoned-up to cool down for a few minutes so it doesn’t wrinkle you put it on.
Important Things to Take Care of When Ironing a Dress Shirt
Besides the above-mentioned procedure, there are a few extra ins and outs you should keep in mind when learning how to iron.
- When ironing a dress shirt made of cotton you will have to apply a bit more pressure onto the material. However, take it easy to not burn the fabric;
- Steam irons make the task of ironing shirts a lot easier. If using one, you should iron the shirt directly on the hanger;
- Avoid leaving “wrinkle islands” while ironing so you don’t have to go over the same area twice;
- Ideally, you would want to iron the shirt inside out first;
- If you notice that your shirt remains dirty or stained after washing, re-wash it. Never iron stained shirts as it becomes even more difficult to remove the spots;
- Do not underestimate the importance of stretching the material before ironing;
- Always iron one-direction only;
- Probably the most crucial detail – which far too often goes overlooked – is the temperature of the iron. Double-check the tag to know what fabric your shirt is made of and adjust the temperature accordingly. If the tag has been removed and you are not sure of the material, opt for the lowest setting;
- Keep the iron’s water container clean – and full.
As you can see, ironing men’s shirt is not the ordeal many anticipate. By reading what the tag says, washing it properly and making sure you have a reliable set of tools all you will need is a bit of care (and patience) to render your dress shirt impeccable.
Practice leads to perfection, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the shirt you have just ironed doesn’t look spot on. With time, you will learn how to use an iron on your favorite shirt with confidence and dexterity.