There are a few things in life that divide us: political allegiances, Marmite, whether McDonald’s is better than Burger King (or if Subway is simply better than them both – which it is), snickers or mars bars, or whether you should put milk in your tea before or after you add the water.
Some people seem to think that ironing is one such division. They say that you either love it or hate it, but I’m sorry, I’ve not yet met anyone that can say they enjoy doing the ironing – especially when it comes to shirts. I bloody hate ironing my shirts, but as an exceedingly image conscious young man, getting rid of all those tiny, irritating, God awful, hateful creases that would otherwise blight my carefully considered outfit is nothing less than a necessity.
After many discussions with the oracle of ironing (my Mum) and a fair bit of practice, I have found a method that gets it done quickly and efficiently with good results. Even if you don’t currently iron your own shirts (lucky buggers), you will probably have to do it at some point in your life, so it’s worth getting in the practice now.
Get Your Gear
Here are the essentials you need:
- The Iron – of course, you’re going to want one of these. You want to be looking for a nice heavy steam iron. As with pretty much everything in life, spend a bit more and you won’t regret it. It baffles me how many guys will drop hundreds of pounds curating a collection of beautiful formal and casual shirts, and then ironing them with a discount $pound;5 iron from their local supermarket.
- Ironing Board – unless you can air iron, you need an ironing board. The wider the board, the quicker your ironing will be. Get one with a mesh base, a layer of foam and a decent cover. Make sure you keep the foam and cover in good condition, as any stains, marks or bits of the frame sticking through all have the potential to ruin your shirts.
- Spray Bottle – if you have left your shirts to dry out for a while before you iron them, being able to re-introduce a little moisture will make the whole process much easier. By misting water on the shirt and letting it soak in for a couple of minutes you loosen up the fibres, which will make it easier for the iron to remove the creases. Some irons already have a spray function built into them; just make sure you keep the reservoir topped up.
- Starch Spray – should you prefer your formal shirts to be a bit more rigid, spray them with starch spray. Just make sure you don’t go overboard as they can become uncomfortable and will crease more easily.
- Bosch Tda4632gb Steam Iron
- Tefal Maestro Premium Steam Iron Fv3770
- Morphy Richards Turbosteam Ceramic Iron 40698
- Bosch Tda7640gb Premier Power Iron
- Philips Azur Gc4860/02 Steam Iron 2600 Watt Dark Blue
- Rowenta Dw6010 Eco Focus Steam Iron
- Dylon Spray Starch 300ml
- Fabric Magic Spray Starch – 300ml
- Spray Starch
Note: This method can be used on both formal and casual shirts, but in the case of casual shirts I think it is always worth considering whether you actually need to iron them – they may actually benefit from being left a little creased and worn.
Start by setting up your ironing board at around waist height; make sure you are near enough to a plug socket for it not to be a stretch, fill up your water reservoir and set the iron to the correct temperature. Too hot and you risk damaging the fabric, too cold and it won’t remove the creases.
Make sure your shirts are fresh and clean, and ensure you let the water you spray onto your shirt soak in. It doesn’t have to be dripping wet, just moist. Now brace yourself for the most boring, tedious and uninspiring few minutes of your life:
Start with the sleeves first. Undo all the buttons and flatten out the cuff, you can then move onto the sleeve. If you can get the whole sleeve completely flat then you only need to iron one side – this will make the whole process quicker whilst helping you avoid ironing in more small creases on the side you’ve just done.
Whilst ironing the sleeve, work from the seam up rather than from the top down, this will help you keep the sleeve straight and true. If you don’t want a crease down the centre of your sleeve, stop just short of the top edge of the sleeve. Long, slow strokes are better than short, sharp ones.
*Top Tip – always press down on the heel of your iron, not the tip. Pressing down on the tip causes those annoying ripples and small creases that are so difficult to get out.*
Next you can iron the Yoke. Push the tapered end of your ironing board into the sleeves so that the yoke is flat across the point. Pull the sleeves down to open up the seams and keep the shirt flatter.
You can then move onto the collar. Spread it out flat, give it a steam or spray so that the fibres are softer, stretch it out and then simply run the iron along it, making sure that you are pressing on the heel of the iron.
You don’t want a hard crease around the collar when it’s folded back in place, so just press the iron on the centre back of the collar to help it keep its natural shape.
When it comes to the main body of the shirt you can make the whole task much easier by doing up the collar. This will hold the shirt in place when it is pulled over the tapered end of the board and helps to keep the point nudged into the sleeve.
Iron the placket first – pull at the collar whilst running the iron backwards, this will open up the seams and keep it smooth. Slowly work your way around the rest of the body of the shirt, making sure that you are constantly steaming and pulling the seams to keep the fibres relaxed and the shirt tensioned – thereby avoiding ironing in more creases.
*Top Tip – Don’t wear your shirt straight away, let it cool down and dry out for a few minutes before you pull it on*
Finally, when storing your shirts, make sure you leave them enough room to hang correctly – you don’t want to have to re-iron a shirt because it’s been crushed in your wardrobe. Do up a couple of the buttons to help it keep its shape.
Current Shirt Picks
Whilst we are on the subject of ironing, it would be rude not to showcase some of my recommended shirt picks available on the market now:
- Asos Oxford Shirt With Overdye
- Allsaints Grosvenor Shirt
- Bellerose Navy Polka Dot Salini Shirt
- Allsaints Ernesto Shirt
- Allsaints Corunna Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Green Micro Plaid Custom Fit Shirt
- Topman Light Blue Washed Oxford Shirt
- Reiss Boston Wide Stripe Collar Bar Shirt Blue
- American Apparel Striped Long Sleeve Button Down Shirt
- Burberry London Gingham Check Cotton Shirt
- Gucci Slim-fit Cotton Shirt
- Reiss Explorer Classic Fit Plain Shirt Pink
So there we have my personal guide to ironing your shirts. This is the method I use and I’ve found it works well for me, but this is only one way of doing it; now I want to know whether you guys have any tips or tricks to make one of life’s most boring tasks that little bit swifter.
I hope this helps and I’ll be back next week.