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How to Iron Shirts, Pants, and Skirts

Updated on June 18, 2011

How to Properly Iron Shirts, Pants, and Skirts

Ironing clothes is one of those tasks that has always been somewhat of a scary chore for me. Living in New York City, space is at a premium so an ironing board was never a priority in my household. But these days, I find myself like most people, always looking for ways to cut back on spending. Truth be told, learning how to iron is one of the easiest ways to save money. Once you iron with a Rowenta Steam Iron you will understand this concept and before you know it you will never send your clothes to the dry cleaners. It will be like found money in your pocket. Take it from me this is the time for you to learn how to iron like a pro. Interesting to note that a few years ago an iron and an ironing board was a non existent household item in my house and today I would be lost without it.
So if you are anything like me and maybe terrified of the ironing board, worry not, it just seems overly complicated. Here, this once upon a time non iron-er will break it down into the three simplest, most common pieces of clothing;Shirts, pants, and skirts. Just remember that there are some fabrics that might need special attention, but other than that it's all pretty much the same.

How To Iron Your Shirts, Pants and Skirts
How To Iron Your Shirts, Pants and Skirts

What You Will Need

To Iron Like a Pro:

  • A Steel Frame Ironing Board (best if it has an iron rest to hold hot iron securely)
  • Iron (Tip - always use a clean iron without rust or burnt starch, you dont want any of this to be branded into your clothes!) Personally I love my cordless Iron, read on to see why.
  • Water - it is best if you have a spray bottle full of water handy.
  • Optional: If you prefer your shirts with some starch there are lots of starch options that are natural and work like a charm.

The Ironing Board

A Household Essential

I really feel the need to stress the point that an ironing board really is necessary. Sure you could use any flat surface that is clear of anything but honestly there is a good reason that someone came up with the idea of an Ironing board in the first place. Just look at the shape of an Ironing Board and you cant miss the fact that they are specially made to make the pressing wrinkles our of clothes easy. Even more important is that they're wrapped in special material that's not only flame retardant, but also breathable so that steam is able to escape from underneath the item you're ironing. As you can see from the selection of ironing boards shown here the investment is small, and I can promise you the benefits are endless. My top pick of ironing boards is the Tri Leg Ironing Board with polyester felt padding from Woolite. It has a Powder coated iron rest with 4 pressure slip resistant silicone grips and it folds easily for storage. The Rowenta steam iron is a close second and it is a brand of household appliances that is top notch.

Household Tip:When you set up your ironing board make sure it is near a good light source, as you'll need to be able to see what you are ironing. Whether it be near a window or a good reading lamp, just remember that in order to get the best possible ironing done you need to see where the creases are.

T Fal Steam Iron
T Fal Steam Iron

Steam Irons by T-Fal

How To Iron a Man Tailored Shirt
How To Iron a Man Tailored Shirt


T-Fal Easycord Iron

One of the best iron and the easiest is a stream iron. The T Fal line of irons is by a favorite brand of mine. When using a steam iron, essentially what you have is a chamber on the body of the iron that is filled with water. (The T-Fal has 64 steam holes with an option of continuous steam, plus you can blast the material with a burst of steam for the harder wrinkles). Ironing with a cordless iron is the best way to go as one less wire to trip over! It also has a vertical-steam option for the corners and harder to reach spots. Using a steam to iron your clothing is preferable to other methods like direct heat as steam has a fair amount of moisture in it. An iron that has a scratch-resistant non-stick soleplate makes for smooth gliding. Another great feature on the T-Fal steam iron has the Easycord System that keeps the cord out of the way. A 3-way automatic shut-off for safety is what closed the deal for me. If you are looking for a more powerful iron see the Rowenta Steam Iron below for more options.


Ironing shirts is quicker and easier than you might think. You will save money and all it should take you is about 3 minutes. It takes more time to take these same shirts to the dry cleaners. Once you get the hang of the iron gliding along the fabric you will be well on your way to the best way to iron a shirt.

  • Open the buttons on the cuffs and any other buttons like on the collar! So many people get this part wrong. You want the least amount of obstacles in your way and by unbuttoning the cuffs it eases the laying flat of the entire sleeve.
  • So that brings us to the order of what part of the shirt to iron first. The sleeves I think are the best pace to begin, as they will be just fine hanging off the sides of the ironing board while you finish the rest of the shirt. If you were to do the body of the shirt first the sleeves will end up wrinkled so best to start with the 2 arms first.
  • Just like the cuffs make sure that the collar of the shirt is unbuttoned, as you want to open it up and lay it flat as you can. After you iron the collar you then can fold them back in the down position.
  • Make sure to use the tip of the iron to work around buttons and the placket on the sleeves.
  • Then iron the body of the shirt, starting from the shoulders. Make sure you take your time as the iron glides over the fabric.
  • Last is to hang the ironed shirt for a few minutes. This lets the fabric cool down. Remember that ironing heats the material to very high relative temperatures, and during the cool down is the time that the shirt actually sets.

Easy Steps to Iron a Shirt Properly

Ironing Clothes

Starch or No Starch

Starch will make your clothes crisp and also make your job easier because creases and wrinkles respond better to the warmth of the iron once they’ve got some starch sprayed on them. Always remember that when spraying the starch you must keep the nozzle a little distance away from the clothes and spray intermittently. You do not want to saturate the shirt for if you do the shirt will end up smelling awful and the shirt will probably be as stiff as a cardboard box because you didnt listen and out too much starch!

How To Properly Iron Pants

5 Easy Steps

To Iron Wrinkle Free Pants

Make sure to turn the fabric inside out

  1. Iron the Pockets
  2. Iron the seams, the hem and the fly (zipper). Go back and forth smoothing the fabric with a light movement. Before moving on turn the pants back right side out.
  3. Iron the waistband by placing the waist around the tip of the ironing board and rotate the fabric as you move around the entire waist making sure to smooth out any wrinkles.
  4. Iron the Legs by lining the legs up. Place one leg flat on the board and work your way to the crotch. Repeat on the other leg.
  5. Last step is to use the steam to set the creases with steam.

How to Iron a Skirt Like a Pro
How to Iron a Skirt Like a Pro

Ironing a Skirt

For Most skirts, it's as simple as starting at the top and working your way down. There are a few exceptions like a pleated skirt or a skirt that has a flounce where you would start at the bottom of the garment. Then you would steam iron each flounce or pleat on the skirt first, and work your way up toward the waist. The most challenging aspect of ironing a skirt is knowing the fabric and what heat you should use for each category. Clothes have labels with care instructions. Take the minute or 2 to read and familiarize yourself with the different settings on your steam iron and what heat should be used for the fabric at hand.

Tip: Be sure to set the iron to the correct temperature for the fabric that you are ironing (check the label first). Iron corduroy and wool inside out to prevent crushing the corduroy or making the wool look shiny. Steam can help release wrinkles as you iron, especially in cotton and linen.

How To Iron A Skirt

Rowenta Steamers

Rowenta IS9100 Precision Valet Commercial Full Size Garment Steamer with Retractable Cord and Variable Steam 1550 Watt, Grey Purple
Rowenta IS9100 Precision Valet Commercial Full Size Garment Steamer with Retractable Cord and Variable Steam 1550 Watt, Grey Purple
Just use tap water and this Rowenta Steamer heats up in just 60 seconds. Options for controlling steam. All fabrics love to unwrinkle model.

Getting Wrinkles Out in a Pinch

No Time to Iron Get a Fabric Steamer

If time is not on your side there are other options to get the wrinkles out of your clothes. One of the best ways I have gotten a dress ready to go out is that I turn the shower on, close the door and let the steam from the shower do the work. This works well on some fabrics but not all. If you opt to try this make sure that you hang the garment on the back of the door or as far away from the water source as possible.

Another trick it the clothes dryer. This technique is all about timing. The clothes must be removed from the dryer when hot and shaken out immediately and then hung up so that you don't give a wrinkle a chance to set in.

The last quick fix is to purchase a steamer. Some of these steamers can heat up in 45 seconds. Using 1 1/4 quart of water in its tank it can produce up to 45 minutes of steam. This method is easy and fast. The only draw back is that it needs space as these machines tend to be bulky.

Final Tips to Ironing Properly

For Professional Results

  • Always keep your ironing board clean and in tip top condition. If you dont you open up the chance that whatever is on the ironing board will transfer to your garment.
  • Never iron dirty clothes. If there is a stain you will iron it into the fabric and wont be able to remove the stain.
  • When ironing always take your time. This is not something you want to rush. Rushing will create wrinkles and worse you can burn the fabric.
  • Keep a water bottle in a spray close by. This way if you do mess up and make wrinkles you can spray the area and then carefully and slowly iron the crease right out.

Ironing - Its All About the Steam

Rowenta Steam Iron
Rowenta Steam Iron

Pressure Iron & Steamer


This must have iron from Rowenta uses the same secrets that the professional dry cleaners use. In a separate base the water boiler/steam generators in this amazing iron are the key factor to providing endless amounts of steam. The steam is delivered on demand (by a trigger under the handle) and then is distributed to the iron through a 6 foot steam cord.

Rowenta Pressure and Steamer Iron Features:

  • Powerful Vertical Steam this allows the iron to be used upright to remove wrinkles from clothes that are hanging to all your curtains and drapes that can probably use a good overhaul)
  • Stainless Steel Soleplate for excellent glide and non scratch properties
  • Convenient stable iron rest and compact base for easy use and storage.

Panasonic Cordless Steam Iron
Panasonic Cordless Steam Iron

Best Cordless Steam Iron

By Panasonic

This 3-piece cordless steam/dry iron set makes ironing safer and is a breeze to use. This primo iron sits in a sturdy charging base and has a retractable cord to make sure there are no accidents. It is ergonomically the best iron you can use. This iron has a stainless steel soleplate with pushbutton controls. One of my favorite features is the automatic turn off. It has adjustable heat settings with a spray mist when you need to smooth out the toughest wrinkles. Also to make ironing foolproof it has a steam temperature chart so you never will be at a loss in knowing which setting to use.


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