Ironing and how to iron a white shirt – a necessary evil in ways but therapeutic in others. We’ve highlighted two top tips and 5 steps below to master ironing your white formal shirt. Firstly, tools make the shirt, therefore we’ve pointed out a couple of tips to improve the journey to mastering.
Tip 1: Ironing Board
An ironing board is by no means essential in ironing a white shirt, or more generally for men’s shirts. For example, a large table covered with a blanket and a sheet does just as well; particularly if you’re mobile with work. The ironing board shouldn’t be too narrow, otherwise the shirt has to be shifted around several times when ironing the back and the breast, which can take a long time if you have a lot of ironing to do.
A sleeve board is primarily used for round-ironing sleeves, but you could also iron collars and cuffs on it. Generally, the recommendation would be to iron these flat, which does the job well.
Tip 2: Iron
When asking the question of how to iron a white shirt, the most important part of an iron is the (clean) soleplate. It is advisable to have a solid stainless-steel soleplate that wouldn’t damage the material whilst ironing your shirt. The best results are always if you iron the shirts while they are slightly damp, following a shirt-specific wash cycle – more information can be found on this here. If the shirts have already dried out too much following a wash, they can be dampened with a spray bottle – any generally will do, but you can kick it up a notch by using a Spray Starch. You can also put the sprayed shirt in a plastic bag after spraying which will ensure that the moisture distributes well, this is optional if you have time!
Step 1 – Preparing the Shirt
As mentioned, the best time to iron is whilst the shirt is slightly damp. It’ll make the ironing much easier, so this could be an hour or so after you have washed it (depending on the room temperature.
If the shirt is still too dry, then dampen it thoroughly with water. A spray bottle is needed to do this.
Pro Tip: you can keep the dampened shirt for half an hour in a plastic bag. This ensures that all the moisture distributes evenly through the cloth.
Step 2 – Ironing the Sleeve and Cuff of the Shirt
Start the shirt ironing with one of the sleeves. Lay the sleeve flat and pull it flat to ensure a smooth surface. Begin by ironing the middle of the sleeves.
Iron from the centre of the sleeve outwards, otherwise light creases will be pressed into the material. Only iron the folds at the end. If you are using a sleeve board, pull the sleeve over it and iron it evenly until crisp. It goes without saying, but round-ironed shirts are supposed to be stored hanging up.
Iron a single-button cuff with the buttons facing upwards. A double-cuffed shirt has to be treated differently. Unfold the cuff and iron it smoothly, then fold it to the desired shape and iron in the folds. For a double cuff, you should fold the cuff once in the middle and iron the fold so that the cufflink buttonholes line up flat on top of each other.
Step 3 – Ironing the Back of the Shirt
The back of the shirt should be one of the easier areas to iron. Firstly, place the shirt with the inside down on the ironing board. Pull the shirt tight and taut. Take care with the back pleat and make sure that you iron it evenly. Place the back pleat on the edge of the ironing board so that it runs parallel to one side. Hold the shirt tight while you iron the pleat.
Repeat the whole procedure from the other side of the shirt.
Step 4 – Ironing the Collar of the Shirt
Straighten out the collar and place it on the ironing board. Iron from the tips of the collar so that no creases in the material are left on the outside. This is particularly important with soft button-down collars.
Turn the collar over and iron it on the inside, now insert the collar stiffeners into the collar and turn it over. It is not necessary to iron in the fold of the collar.
Step 5 – Ironing the Breast of the Shirt
Now you have to iron the breast of the shirt, which includes the middle button section known as the placket. First lay one half on the ironing board with the outside up and iron it smooth. Iron it carefully around the buttons, try this on the inside too and see what works better for you. Finally, repeat the process for the other side.
It is best to keep your shirts hanging up. Alternatively, you can always iron your shirts one after the other and have them prepared, or only iron them when you need to.
So, there you have it, our top tips and 5 steps on how to iron a white shirt; or any coloured shirt for that matter.
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