Library Blog

Adulting 101: Ironing Your Dress Shirt

Iron and shirt on ironing board

If you are looking to make a good impression, wrinkled clothes are not the way to go.  A clean, ironed outfit conveys positive attributes and a polished image.  Whether you need to look your best for work, a job interview, or a special occasion, learning how to iron is a must have skill.  If you were never taught the proper way to iron, never fear, the library is here to help!   


You will need an iron, water for your steam iron, an ironing board, and a hanger.  Optional items are a spray bottle and spray starch.  If you use spray starch, you must be careful and use it sparingly.  Most people don’t use it anymore.  A spray bottle comes in handy if you don’t have a steam iron, or you have an item that is particularly difficult to iron.   Make sure to use a bottle that has not had harsh chemicals in it.  The leftover particles can damage your clothes.   

Choosing an iron is important.  You need to look for quality, heat capability, steam function, size, and weight.  You can use the Library’s Online Resources to get consumer buying information.  You can also visit these websites for iron ratings: 

Consumer Search Database for Irons 

The Taggy11 Best Steam Irons Consumer Reports: Reviews & Buying Tips 2020 

The Consumer Guide: 10 Best Steam Iron Reviews 2020 

Best Consumer Ratings Best Steam Irons Consumer Report: Reviews & Top Picks  

Ironing a dress shirt: 

Step 1:  Get your shirt ready. 

Always start with a clean garment.  If there is dirt or stains, the heat can set them into the cloth, making them harder to get out later.  Smooth out your shirt.  Unbutton your shirt, collar, and cuffs.  If you are using a spray bottle with water, you can dampen the shirt.   Leave it on a hanger and lightly spray the shirt all over.   

Step 2:  Set up your ironing board.  

If you do not have an ironing board, you can place a towel or towels on a flat surface.  If your surface could be damaged, put a long piece of aluminum foil under your towel. 

Step 3:  Set up the iron.   

Fill your steam iron with water.  Please note that hard water can contain dirt, calcium, and magnesium that can build up in your iron.  The build up can clog the iron and leave stains on your clothes.  It’s best to use filtered water.   

Stand your iron up on the ironing board, and plug it in.  Turn the iron on and turn the dial to your desired temperature setting.  Check the label on your garment to choose the correct setting.  If you are unsure, start with a lower temperature setting and move up as needed.  If you start with an iron that is too hot, you can damage the material.   

Step 4:  You’re ready to Iron! 

Start with the collar.  Open the collar, and iron the inside.  Turn your shirt over and iron the front side.   

Next, iron the yoke.  The yoke is a piece at the top, just under the collar in the back and shoulder area.   

Some suggest to do the sleeves last, but some do the sleeves next.  I choose to do them now.  Lay your sleeve out on the ironing board.  Smooth out all the wrinkles in the top and bottom pieces.  Make sure the cuff is unbuttoned.  Start ironing at the shoulder and work your way down to the cuff.  Once complete, turn the shirt over, re-smooth the sleeve, and iron the back side.  Repeat with the other sleeve.  Take time to place the sleeve so that you only have one crease down the side. 

The sides of the shirt are next.  Start with the side that has the buttons.  Take the shirt and lay the side over the ironing board.  Start at the shoulder and work your way down.  Carefully iron around the buttons.  Do not iron buttons on the cuff or shirt.  This can melt or damage them.  You will need to move the shirt to get all of the fabric towards the bottom.    Once the first side is done, do the other side.   

The back of the shirt is last.  Place the back of the shirt on the ironing board and work from the yoke down, moving the shirt until you have ironed the entire back portion.   

Step 5: Finishing 

Immediately after finishing, hang the shirt on a hanger.  Quickly examine, and if any portion is wrinkled or creased, put it back on the board and iron it smooth.  Once the shirt looks good and is on the hanger, make sure to button the top button and a couple others to keep the collar in shape and to prevent it from falling off.   

More Ironing Resources Online: 

Wiki How to Iron a Shirt 

The Art of ManlinessHow to Properly Iron a Dress Shirt 

Real Men Real Style Ultimate Shirt Ironing Guide: How to Iron Shirts Like A Boss 

LifeHacker: How to Properly Iron Shirts, Pants, and Skirts 

Check out the video below and watch step-by-step directions on proper ironing technique:


Starr Jones has worked as a librarian in Mahoning County for 19 years. She likes to read nonfiction books, especially biographies and books about science, social issues, cooking, and humor. She also likes fiction written by female authors. While she prefers hardcover books, she will read an eBook on occasion and likes to listen to audiobooks while multitasking. Her zen is shooting pool and watching the Great British Baking Show.