Heading Out on Your Own — Day 23: How to Iron a Dress Shirt

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 23, 2012 · 27 Comments

in Heading Out On Your Own, Visual Guides

For a text article on the subject, see here.

Next Week: How to Iron Pants

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JonEdanger August 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Back in the day before I realized taking my shirts to the cleaners was a better deal…
I always ironed the sleeves before the body of the shirt. Seemed to make more sense doing the front last.

2 Steve August 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Don’t forget to let each ironed area cool off for a minute or two before mussing it up!

3 Aaron Brame August 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Ironing shirts is a damnable, dreaded, but necessary chore. Unless you have enough disposable income to fritter away on dry cleaning, you’d better learn how to do this yourself.

Thanks for the pointers.

4 Kevin August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I always thought it was better to turn the shirt inside out, iron the inside in case you get any slight burn marks or calcium deposits from impure water on it.

5 Erik D. Kennedy August 24, 2012 at 2:07 am

Whenever I don’t feel like ironing, I watch this video… and almost consider a career movie.


Seriously: so zen.

6 Simon August 24, 2012 at 4:41 am

this article came exactly at the right time, and probably saved a shirt from being burnt. this week was the first week of 12th grade where the dress code requires a dress shirt. and my mother’s away for another week, but i’ve got nothing to wear. right, off i go. doesn’t look too hard.

7 Darren August 24, 2012 at 5:18 am

One thing you forgot in your instructions – the last thing you should do is fold the collar over and iron it flat. That way it will sit neatly when either wearing a tie (or not as the case may be). And always hang your freshly ironed shirt on a WOODEN hanger – never plastic or metal – with the top two buttons buttoned. That way it will hang neatly in your closet.

8 Jimmy August 24, 2012 at 7:14 am

Don’t really agree with this.
I think its better to iron inside out and start with the sleeves. Also don’t wash your shirt with the collar tabs still in!

9 Jason August 24, 2012 at 8:03 am

Ironing a dress shirt is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it; however I rarely wash & iron my own dress shirts for two reasons.

First, I don’t dry them in the dryer. I hang them because I am wary of them shrinking. Second, I don’t have time between wears to wait the for them to dry on the clothesline.

So, I might wash, hang dry & iron the shirt I wear with my suit; since I rarely have to wear it.

I take the shirts I wear to work to the cleaners and have them washed & pressed for a buck each.

I say do what’s best for you.

10 Jeremy August 24, 2012 at 9:36 am

Kevin, ironing inside out is also great for dark shirts that seem to get flaky or shiny when you iron them.

11 g August 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

I was taught to iron in this order…collar, cuffs, sleeves, one side of the shirt front, the back then the other side of the shirt front….ironing the shirt so the main part starts of hanging in front of you on the ironing board then ironing so it progresses to the opposite end of the ironing board (in contrast to the illustrated pics) that way you don’t accidently lean against the ironed part of the shirt

My stepfather taught me this…and I think this along with how to tie a tie are the only useful pieces of information he ever gave me!

12 Daveareeno August 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

This is not correct. It should be small parts to larger parts. Collar, yoke, sleeves, then front panel with the buttons. move shirt around board to 1/2 of back panel, other half of back panel, then finishing up with front panel with the flat part where the buttons come through. The smaller parts are less likely to get or show wrinkles while the larger parts are ironed.

13 Daveareeno August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

You can test your iron on a towel to be sure there is no scum that will come off on your clothes. Turn printed tees inside-out to preserve the prints. Also, before washing turn anything inside-out that may get pricked (sweaters, synthetics, etc.).

14 Anders August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

The order should rather be:
Collar, sleeves, back, front.

If the shirt is made from some shiny blended fabric I would iron it inside out to avoid burn marks.

Also, never never put a dress shirt in the dryer, but leave to dry on a hanger. It protects the shape/size and makes the ironing easier.

15 Tim August 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

Seriously, you want to argue about order of ironing a shirt? It is a very good article for those who have never ironed a shirt. wish I had of read this when I joined the Navy, I have ironed a LOT of uniform shirts, some odd Navy Jumpers but most regular cut dungaree and dress shirts.

My only suggestion, I never put water in the iron. I always use a spray bottle. Irons would spit rust and calcium stains on my white dress shirt

Thanks Brett
Good primer article


16 Coop August 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I was literally just thinking about how I didn’t have a clue how to properly iron.

Last week I threw away all my ratty old t-shirts so I desperately needed this as I’m ironing almost every day.


17 Josh August 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Protip: after you iron the collar (before you iron the main body of the shirt), fasten the top button. This will not only hold the collar folds in place as the fabric cools, but provide a nice loop to anchor around the point of your ironing board. Always hang your shirts with the top button fastened (top 2 is even better), to maintain correct collar shape, even if you plan on wearing it without a tie.

Protip #2: Don’t iron the fold in your collar unless it’s being a bit unruly. A *slight* roll on the collar fold looks awesome, with a tie or without (subject to opinion, of course – and this is mine). However, do always iron the collar fold at the back of the neck, as you never need a roll there, and it will help the collar lie where it’s supposed to.

18 TimJ August 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Although my order of ironing differs from this one, I love ironing dress shirts. One beer for every two shirts, pretty soon you have a dozen ironed shirts (although the later ones may require some retouching later).

19 peter August 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

i always do collar, then work around the shoulders (with the sleeves top end on the end of the board) then sleeves + cuffs, then work round from the button side round the main part of the shirt. it takes a bit longer but it means all parts are covered

20 CraigB August 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm

If you wear a suit to work, just iron the collar and front of your dress shirt. Lazy? Yes. Effective? Very.

Then again, if you wear a suit every day, you can probably afford the $1.50 to get your shirt laundered and pressed.

Because I’m extra cheap, I always wear undershirts and, if the weather isn’t too garbage, I can get a good 2-3 wears from a dress shirt before they fail the sniff-test.

21 Thomas September 3, 2012 at 6:31 am

It’s a good idea to invest in that special non-mineral water made specially for irons. Prevents calcium buildup so you won’t have any more of that “crusty” stuff coming out.
In college I was too cheap and lazy to go out and get it (costs next to nothing), and in the end, my iron had so much build up that it CAUGHT ON FIRE. Point is, be careful.

22 Alex September 14, 2012 at 9:35 am

There is a cool application for android with animated instruction on how to iron, check it out.
link to Google Play http://goo.gl/iAAxm

23 John Ritchie September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I learnt how to iron whilst I was a soldier in the Australian Army. For the 18 years I was a soldier I would never let anyone else iron my uniforms or day to day clothes. I am still like that 7 years after I left.

24 myname March 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

You forgotten something. When you iron collar, there is a trick.
God thing to do is after you finish collar, while it is still hot, hold it like it should be on your neck, for fiew seconds untill it cools down.

If it cools down in wierd position, probobly it will be in wierd postition on your neck.

25 Chris September 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

To keep clothes wrinkle free longer during wear and provide a stain barrier remember to use starch. You can dampen with spray starch as shown in step 1 if you aren’t accustomed to starching in your washing machine. With a variety of spray starch finishes available you can have the exact finish you desire.

26 Don October 31, 2013 at 9:48 am

Excellent article idea. I’ve never found a laundry that does a good job on shirts.

The only fault I find with these instructions (I’ve been doing it for well over 50 years) is that it’s better to iron the shirt yoke and sleeves before starting on one side of the front and working all the way around to the other side. BTW don’t for get the pleat on the back.

Works best for me anyway.

27 Andy October 31, 2013 at 10:10 am

I’m hoping to blow your mind with this trick. Learned it in the Marines 20 years ago and it radically changed the way I iron my dress shirts.

Here’s the gist of it: Most people use their ironing board all wrong. The way it is pictured in the diagram above is not the best way to use an ironing board. It’s true.

When ironing a dress shirt, use the fat, flat end (the butt of the ironing board), not the narrow, pointy end. What you will find is that it allows you to snug up your dress shirt and get a really nice, broad ironing surface. You’ll save time as you won’t have to reposition the shirt to iron different parts of the front.

Hope this helps.

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