Ironing 101

Ironing 101

Learn how to get rid of wrinkles in slacks, sheets and shirts — the right way!

By: Jennifer Lifford

Although ironing may not need to be done as frequently as it used to, basic ironing skills are still important to learn. Follow these tips to get those crisp, wrinkle-free clothes you’re looking for!

Before You Start

1. Check Over Your Clothing
Check over garments for any dirt or stains. Ironing over these will set the stains and make them more difficult to remove.

Make sure to check the laundry tag on your garment to determine the fabric type and to see if there are any specific recommendations listed. Look for the iron symbol and check the temperature and steam settings:

One dot: < 110 C (230 F)
Two dots: < 150 C (300 F)
Three dots: < 200 C (390 F)

Tip: When ironing a blended fabric, choose the lowest temperature setting of the two.

2. Organize Your Items
If you have a variety of items you will be ironing, start with those items requiring lower heat and work your way up to the higher temperature garments. Wool and blend fabrics will require lower temperature settings while 100 percent cotton items can typically be ironed at the hotter settings.

3. Prepare Your Iron
If your iron has a water reservoir, fill this up using distilled or bottled water to help minimize mineral buildup.

Basic Ironing Tips

  • Always iron using an ironing board.
  • If you would like your clothing to be more crisp, spray your clothing with a spray starch just prior to ironing. This will also make it easier to iron and will make clothes more resistant to wrinkles throughout the day.
  • Always keep the iron moving to avoid any fabric burns. For difficult wrinkles, spray lightly with water and iron over it with steam.
  • As you complete each section, move the item away from you to avoid further wrinkling.


  • Pull out the pockets (both front and back) and iron them first. If the pockets are wrinkled and you iron over top, you will make the wrinkles worse.
  • Iron around the waistband by pressing down and lifting the iron up rather than just pushing it along the fabric. If there are any pleats, fold them in place and iron them down (again, by pressing down and then lifting up).

  • Starting at the bottom of your pants, iron up the length of each of the leg. Remember to iron on both sides of each pant leg.
  • To create a crease for dress pants, place a single pant leg on the ironing board ensuring the inseams are directly over each other. Press the iron down at the top and bottom of the leg (at the top of the leg, the crease should end at the bottom of the pockets) and then press in the rest of the crease between these two points.

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  • It is easiest to iron sheets when they are slightly damp.
  • Fold the sheet in half or into quarters depending on the size of the sheet.
  • Place your sheet over the ironing board and iron in a back and forth motion until dry.

Dress Shirts

  • Shirts are easiest to iron if they are slightly damp. If your shirt is not coming directly from the dryer, mist it with a few sprays from a water bottle.
  • Iron the collar first. Turn the collar up and start pressing the underside of the collar from one point to the other. Flip over and repeat on the other side of the collar.
  • Unbutton the shirt cuffs and lay flat on the ironing board to iron. Do not iron over the buttons.

  • To iron the shirt fronts, start on the side that has the buttons and carefully work your iron around the buttons without ironing over them.
  • Sleeves are best ironed using a sleeve board. If you do not have one of these, ensure that both layers of the sleeve are lined up along the seam with no wrinkles before pressing.

Tip: Insert up a rolled up towel in the sleeve before ironing. Start at the top of the sleeve and work your way down toward the cuff.

Do you have any ironing tips that save time? Share them in the comments section below!

Jennifer is the author of the blog Clean & Scentsible, where she shares her passion for organizing, crafting and home décor. She is a mom of two boys and enjoys coming up with fun activities to celebrate the holidays and everyday life with her family.

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Brilliant tips! :-)

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Iron clutz. Anyone know a good steamer? Portable and other? Haven't ironed in a few years and no longer own an iron. I used a portable steamer which is good for 90% of everything but then it kept malfunctioning (spraying hot water everywhere, especially on garmet, etc) and the next one I got worked, used it a few times and probably 6 months later it was going through the same issues. I need to buy a small steamer (maybe backed w/a solid warranty at least) and would love input!

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I enjoy ironing and especially the polished appearance it gives my clothing. Anyone can wear expensive clothes, but to walk around looking like they are dryer rumpled as opposed to fresh, crisp, and perfect. I find a spray bottle better than using the reservoir of my iron for water to sprinkle for wrinkle removing.

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The 'joy' in ironing is in the results...otherwise, I find ironing a chore. I watch TV while is iron, and that helps some..........

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barbjill: i had the same problem - drove me crazy for years! i followed all appropriate instructions & settings, & my clothes still looked kinda wrinkly. i finally splurged (after saving for it for almost a year!) on a terrific Rowenta iron, & it's made all the difference. if you can afford, try a top of the line iron. there's a huge difference!

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