How to Iron

Wrinkled clothes make you look disheveled and unprofessional. Get 5 tips on how to iron from the Domestic CEO.

Amanda Thomas
6-minute read
Episode #58

How to Iron a Dress Shirt


As you can probably imagine, I loved Home Economics classes when I was in school. Learning how to set a table, sew a button, and cook basic meals was heaven for me. But of all the lessons I learned in Home Ec class, my absolute favorite was ironing. I remember learning the basics in school, then going home and pulling out all my dad’s handkerchiefs to iron them flat. There was just something therapeutic about making all the wrinkles disappear and I fell in love with the “chore.”

I recently got an email from a Domestic CEO reader and listener named Amy. She asks:

“Can you please provide some tips for ironing? My ironing seems to take far longer than it should, and my clothes end up getting wrinkled shortly after.”

Well, if you are like Amy, and are confused about ironing, today’s episode is for you. I’ll be giving some basics on how to iron, and in the coming weeks I’ll be posting updates on how to iron specific types of clothing, like dress shirts and dress pants, as well as more advanced ironing techniques for tough to iron styles like pleats, layers, and pockets.

Today, we are going to start with 5 basic tips for successful ironing:


Tip #1: Check Your Fabric

Before attempting to iron anything, you want to make sure that it is safe to iron. Some fabrics will literally melt or burn if you touch a hot iron to them, so do your due diligence and check the tags. If you see a little symbol that looks like an iron with an X through it, or if it says “Do not iron” on the tag, don’t even try putting a hot iron to the fabric. These tend to be clothes made of silk, angora, chenille, and other super smooth or super furry materials.

To get wrinkles out of clothes that can’t be ironed, try steaming them. You can also use a water bottle to simply spritz the item with a mist of water, then stretch and rub the wrinkles out. This won’t give the item a crisp look, so if you need the items to look pressed and pristine, take them to a dry cleaner.

Tip #2: Avoid Non-Fabrics

The next thing you should know when learning how to iron is that you need to avoid anything that is not a fabric. This includes buttons (which can break because of the heat and force of the iron), screen printing (which will melt and smear all over the rest of the clothing), sequins (which can melt or deform), and metal (which will burn the dickens out of your hand if you accidently touch it after the iron has passed over it).

You can maneuver the iron around the buttons and metal snaps using the pointy end of the iron, but those other materials may be harder to avoid. If you have a shirt that is completely covered in screen printing or sequins, it’s hard to avoid it all. In this case, you can turn the shirt inside out, or you can cover it with a thin piece of fabric (a thin dish cloth works well) and iron on top of that to avoid melting the rubbery print. If the printing or sequins are only on the front, you can leave the shirt right side out, but lay the patterned side down on the ironing board and iron it from the back only. That way, there are 2 layers of fabric between the hot iron and the delicate plastic.

Tip #3: Getting Started

As you begin with your pile of clothes to be ironed, start with the ones that require a lower temperature. If you do them first, you can ensure that the iron is set to the right temperature from the beginning. If you do them last, you won’t really know how long you need to wait for the iron to cool off enough to be at the right temperature. As you go along, you can continue to increase the iron’s temperature until you get to your sturdy cotton clothes.

Some materials are recommended to be ironed inside out. Corduroy, for example, may get a shine to it if you iron on the furry side. I personally don’t iron many items inside out (I feel like it takes too much time to flip them inside out, then back right side out again), but I also live in the Arizona desert and don’t wear a lot of corduroy or velour. If you want to test whether or not a material can handle direct heat, test an inconspicuous area first before going over the entire thing with your iron and potentially ruining the clothes.