How to Iron Your Clothes Like a Pro

Get tips for ironing different types of clothes so you can feel neat and confident in everything you wear.

Updated September 23, 2020
Man Ironing Shirt At Home

There's no doubt that ironing your clothes makes you look a little more put-together. Whether you're planning your outfit for a job interview, attending an event that's a little more formal than usual, or you just want to look neat and clean in whatever you wear, find out how to iron various types of clothing. With these tips in your back pocket, you'll feel more confident than ever in your ironing abilities.

How to Iron Clothes Properly

Ironing clothes can be intimidating, with plenty of horror stories of burnt clothes and ruined fabrics. Keeping your clothing neatly pressed and burn-free is simple when you keep a few things in mind.

  • Every fabric has a specific ironing setting. Ironing everything on max heat will not get the chore done faster, but it will give you that charred shirt look.
  • Smooth, straight strokes get the job done. Wiggling around might stretch the material.
  • Don't keep the iron in one spot too long. Go back to it if it still looks wrinkled.
  • Ironing clothes inside out can help you hide errors.
  • Make use of the whole board. You have it for a reason, use it.
  • Vinegar in a spray bottle is great for fixing mistakes. Spray and dab with a white cloth to remove scorching or shine on ironed clothes. It will also help clean a scorched iron.
  • Give the clothes time to set in a closet or on a hanger before wearing them.
  • If your iron has steam, use it. This will help to remove wrinkles faster and set the fabric.
  • Use a spray bottle of water to wet the fabric a little before starting. This can make ironing much quicker.

With the basics down, it's time to dive into individual clothes. Remember ironing is much like yoga: technique is everything.

Woman ironing cloth in house

What You Need

You might not be a mechanic, but getting your ironing done to perfection is going to require some tools.

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Water bottle
  • Pins

Quick Chart for Setting Your Iron

Every fabric has its own perfect iron setting. Getting your iron on the right setting is the first step to creating perfectly ironed clothes. Fortunately, most irons offer you a quick guide to know what setting to use on what fabrics. And this might vary based on the iron. However, you can use this chart to give you a basic guideline.

Fabric Iron Setting Ironing Tips
Acetate & acrylic 1 Press while still damp. Avoid steam.
Nylon & silk 2 Flip the fabric inside out for best results. Avoid steam.
Polyester, rayon, satin 3 Flip the fabric inside out and iron while still damp. Avoid steam.
Synthetic blends 4 Press flipped inside out.
Cotton 5 Pressing inside out avoids shine.
Linen 6 Iron clothes will still damp. Flip inside out to avoid shine.

Can You Iron All Clothing?

Unless it is specified in the laundry tag that the clothing should not be ironed, you can iron all clothing. However, you need to check to make sure you are using the appropriate setting for your fabric. For example, acetate takes a lower heat than linen.

How to Iron a Shirt

There aren't too many people out there that iron their t-shirts. But having wrinkle-free dress shirts is a must for most professionals. Keep your shirts looking spiffy by following these simple ironing steps.

  1. Start with the sleeves. If there are cuffs, open them.
  2. Flatten out the cuff and using the heel of the iron, press it in a smooth motion.
  3. Flatten out the sleeve and run a smooth stoke up to the shoulder. If you get it flat, you only need to press one side. Additionally, if you stop right before the edge, you'll avoid a crease in your sleeve.
  4. Duplicate those steps for the other sleeve.
  5. Move on to the collar and flatten it on to the board. Again, use the heel of the iron to avoid creases and press down the length.
  6. Button the collar and slide the shirt on to the board so the collar is at the point.
  7. Starting with the front of one side, work your way to around the shirt using fluid strokes from the bottom up.
  8. When you get to the buttons, go in between them, not over them.
  9. Pull your shirt off the ironing board and let it hang.

How to Iron Pants

When it comes to dress pants, you want to use a gentle touch and press the iron on the fabric, not rub. This way you can avoid getting that dreaded shine in your pants. Another important part of perfectly ironed pants is steam. If you don't have steam function on your iron, make use of the water spray bottle. And if you are still scared, use a towel or fabric between the iron and your clothes. Now it's time to get ironing.

  1. Start at the top of the waistband of the pants.
  2. Pull them over the pointy part of the ironing board.
  3. Pull the pockets inside out and flatten them out before pressing any pleats and creases into the top of the pants.
  4. Pull the pants off and lay the legs down on the ironing board one at a time.
  5. Following the crease, press the leg of the pants stopping about six inches from the waist.
  6. Go on to the other leg and you're done.

No crease is no problem. It is simple to create the crease again.

  1. Line up the seam of one leg.
  2. Flatten them out and add the seam at the far end of the fabric.
  3. Set the bottom then the top, press the crease in up the entire leg of the pants.

How to Iron Skirts

Skirts can be really easy or a bit on the tricky side depending on the type of skirt that you have. If you have a straight or pencil skirt, this is very similar to the directions for pants. Simply slide the skirt over the ironing board and commence wrinkle removal using a pressing rather than a pushing motion. Pleated skirts will take a bit of finessing.

  1. Pull the skirt over the ironing board.
  2. Starting at the waist, reform the pleats down to the hem.
  3. Pin the pleats in place.
  4. Press the pleats back into place down the length of the skirt.
  5. Remove the pin before pressing that area.
  6. Continue all the way around the skirt, reforming and pressing.

How to Iron Dresses

Dresses are pretty simple, because it's like a shirt and skirt put together. Start with the top and follow the instructions for a dress shirt. You can then move on to skirt following the straight or pleated instructions. You'll want to avoid ironing over delicate embroidery and buttons or iron the dress inside out. With dresses, especially those made of delicate materials, you want to be cautious by following these tips.

  • Be ready to use lots of steam and double check your settings.
  • If you have a blended material, always go for the lower setting.
  • Use a towel or cloth between the iron and dress to avoid scorching.

How to Iron Clothes Fast

Are you in a hurry? There are a few ironing tips that can cut your time in half. Faster is always better, especially when it comes to ironing.

Man Ironing Shirt At Home

The Aluminum Foil Trick

While it might seem strange, take the cover off your board and wrap it in aluminum foil. Put the cover back on and start ironing your garments. The reflective aluminum will put the heat into the underside of your clothing, ironing both sides with one swipe. This will definitely up your ironing game.

Keep Clothes Damp

Damp clothes are actually easier to iron than clothes that are fully dry. You can either pull them out of the dryer a little too soon or give them a nice coat with your spray bottle. You'll be amazed at how quickly your clothes become wrinkle free and stay that way. You can even skip the dryer altogether and iron them right out of the washer cutting ironing time and saving money. Who doesn't like that?

Only Iron What People See

If you are going to be wearing a jacket over your shirt, only iron your collar, cuffs and front. What's the point in diving into the sleeves and back of the shirt when no one will see them anyway!

ironing shirt collar

How to Iron Clothes Without an Iron

While an iron is the best way to get wrinkles out of your clothes, there are few ways that you can de-wrinkle when ironing isn't an option.

  • Hang the clothes up while you shower.
  • Throw a few ice cubes in the dryer with your clothes and dry for 15 minutes.
  • Throw a wet sock in with your wrinkled outfit and let it dry for 15-20 minutes.
  • Spray water on the wrinkles and toss it in the dryer.
  • Use your flat iron to iron out your collar and cuffs.
  • Wet the wrinkles and blow them dry as you're drying your hair.
Textile In Laundry Machine

Ironing Clothes for a Wrinkle Free Finish

Ironing is an art form that can be scary, especially for beginners. Always make sure to follow the material settings and a few simple steps to get a flawless look. Before you know it, you'll be an ironing master. And if not, wrinkle free clothing is always an option.

How to Iron Your Clothes Like a Pro