How to Iron a Dress Shirt and Dress Pants

By on September 11, 2014

How to Iron a Dress Shirt and Dress PantsI see it time and time again, men are usually wearing stylish clothing and seem well put together except for one thing….their clothing is wrinkled.  I know I struggled with this very same problem for years and when I go shopping I still try to buy everything I can that’s wrinkle free.  At some point in time, though, you will have to master this skill in your life and it will show others that you are well put together and pay attention to the finer details.  If you don’t own a quality dress shirt, then we recommend that you pick up the Van Heusen Men’s regular-fit pincord dress shirt to give you a fresh look.

There are probably excuses running through your head about why this step of clothing maintenance is required and when growing up your mother took care of this for you.  I promise after a couple of shirts you will be a pro and time ironing your shirt will quicken.  If you have a first date lined up, this will make a better first impression and give you a little bit of confidence when you walk out the door.  Let’s take a look at the tools you will need and the steps taken to ensure you look sharp throughout your day!

Tools You Will Need to Iron Your Dress Shirt

It is important to pick up quality tools for the job and skimping in this area could lead to poor results.  We have put together some of the best irons on a budget that won’t let you down and what to look for when purchasing.

Looking for a quality soleplate:

Rowenta DW9280 Steam Force iron with new 400 hole Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1800 Watt, BlueThe soleplate is where it all happens and makes contact with the shirt or clothing that you want to iron.  You will find them usually constructed of a solid steel, cast iron and aluminum, and also titanium coated soleplates.  You want a soleplate that is smooth and easy to clean.  If you are using someone else’s iron then I recommend cleaning the surface of the soleplate first because any dirt or grime will get back into your clothing and usually ruin the fabric.

When looking for a quality iron you want to make sure it produces heat evenly across the entire surface of the soleplate so the fabric you are ironing doesn’t get damaged.  For a couple extra dollars, you can pick up a decent iron, but anything under the 20 dollars may not be for you.

The second part of the iron you are purchasing is how many watts or the power consumption of the iron.  Usually, lower end irons are around 400 watts while higher end irons are over 1600 watts.  The higher the wattage, the faster the iron will heat up and the higher heat is great for cotton or linen fabrics which need a lot of heat to release wrinkles.  Having a higher wattage iron will also cut down on your ironing time because you won’t be stuck in one area of your garment.

Steam is your friend:

If your iron has a good steam delivery system, it will release the toughest wrinkles and put a smile on your face.  The problem I see with cheap irons is that the iron spits out more water then steam.  You want an even delivery system and many of the new models on the market today have focused on this.  You want the best iron for your buck and with a good steam iron, you can use it on delicate fabrics like wools or others indirectly.

Weight and size of the iron:

Weight doesn’t always mean quality nowadays and the heavier the iron, the harder it is to manage.  If you have arthritis then you could greatly be affected.  Newer space-age materials are being used that are lighter weight and offer the same if not better quality results.  This may not affect everyone, but looking at the products weight before a purchase can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Just like weight, the bigger the better is not the case when it comes to ironing.  Newer irons allow you to fill your iron in the sink and are small enough to maneuver in the tightest areas.  It is always good to look at the specs and shape of the soleplate and read user reviews.

Our Top Irons to Getting the Job Done

This list consists of my top three favorite irons on the market,  In no way does that mean that if you select a different iron you won’t achieve different results.  These irons each have their strong points and will last if well taken care of.  If you are using a different iron then please let us know in the comments below of your experience.

Panasonic NI-E300TR U-Shape Titanium Soleplate Steam-Dry Iron

Panasonic NI-E300TR U-Shape Titanium Soleplate Steam-Dry IronNot only does this iron look appealing, it packs a lot of features and is a fantastic iron for the price.  The reason I picked up this iron was from the glowing reviews and safety features.  Sometimes I am forgetful and forget to shut off the iron.  If I leave the iron in the upright position it will automatically shut off after 10 minutes, and if not moved after 1 minute with the soleplate down it will power off as well.

The “U-Shape” steam dry iron circulates the steam to make sure that you get rid of wrinkles quickly.  You get many different settings and a quality titanium soleplate.  Who would have thought I would be this excited about an iron.  Here are all the features you can expect from the Panasonic NI-E300TR:

  • Unique “U-Shape” Steam-Dry Iron with circulating steam, Titanium non-stick Soleplate has a curved soleplate that concentrates pressure at the center of the iron, instead of at the tip, so there is less tugging, snagging and minimal wrinkling when ironing
  • The U-shaped designed helps circulate steam under the soleplate for smoother ironing with up to 25% more steam coverage based on other Panasonic irons
  • Dimensions: 5 5/16″ (H) x 4 7/16″ (W) x 10 11/16″ (D), 3.3 lbs. White w/Clear Lime Green water tank
  • Automatic Retractable Cord Reel for easy storage, Spray Mist allows you to direct extra moisture when needed and an “Adjustable Steam” feature depending on the fabric that is being ironed. Jet-of-Steam / Self-Cleaning feature for cleaning the unit and for a quick burst of steam for those stubborn wrinkles
  • Panasonic’s innovative mercury-free sensor gives you added security by automatically shutting the iron off after 10 minutes if left in the upright position and 1 minute if left unmoved on its soleplate or if tipped over on its side. That is “3-way” protection.

For under 33 bucks at the time of writing this article, this is a fantastic budget iron that gives you great features for the price.  My favorite part is the automatic retractable cord reel so you don’t have a cord you have to wrap around the iron once it cools off.


Rowenta DW8080 Pro Master Steam Iron with 400-Hole Stainless Steel Soleplate 1700 Watt, Blue

Rowenta DW8080 Pro Master Steam Iron with 400 Hole Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1700 Watt, BlueHere is a professional-grade iron by Rowenta.  If you haven’t heard of Rowenta, they are known for making quality irons and offer a 1-year warranty on their products.  Offering a stainless steel soleplate with 400 holes to make sure steam hits every part of the fabric that the sole plate is on.  The iron heats up quickly so you aren’t waiting around to iron your shirt all day.

The Rowenta iron is ergonomically designed and easy to maneuver over clothing.  If you have the extra money then this is worth picking us and is 40 percent off at the time of writing this article.  Here are all the features:

  • Professional-grade 1700-watt steam iron with 3-way automatic shut-off
  • Variable steam, burst of steam, vertical steam, and cool mist spray options; anti-drip and anti-calc systems; self-cleaning
  • Highly polished stainless-steel soleplate with high-precision tip; full metal shield; ergonomic covered handle
  • Extra-large 12.7-ounce water tank; 7-foot electrical cord with 360-degree pivot
  • Made in Germany; 1-year warranty

If you are looking for an iron that is made to last and is a higher wattage than most of the other irons on the market, look no further.  For 74.99, this iron is a deal and you can find the discount from the link below.


SteamFast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam Iron

SteamFast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam IronIf you are on the road a lot like I am then getting a travel iron is a must have.  The best on the market that I have found is the SteamFast SF-717 offering a multitude of different temperature settings.  The best part is, this little iron can heat up in about 15 seconds.  For its size, this iron works wonders and will remove wrinkles out of most fabrics.

This 420-watt mini steam iron is one of the best for its size and I haven’t found a travel iron that competes for the price.  The one-touch steam control system is easy to use and the handle fits perfectly in my hand.  Here are all the features:

  • 420-watt mini steam iron removes wrinkles from almost any fabric
  • 1-2/5-ounce water tank; heats up in 15 seconds; variable temperature settings
  • Non-stick soleplate; 1-touch steam control; dual voltage for travel convenience
  • Heat-resistant travel bag and plastic measuring cup included
  • Measures approximately 5-2/7 by 3 by 3 inches; 1-year limited warranty. Shipping within the US only

If you are on the road constantly and you need to dress professionally, the SteamFast SF-717 is for you.  For under 25 dollars, there are no complaints from me or the other 522 customer reviews.  Click the link below to get a 17 percent discount on this great travel iron.


Time to Get the Ironing Board

Household Essentials Fibertech Mega Wide Top Bronze Finish 4-Leg Ironing Board with Natural Cotton CoverThere are many different types of ironing boards on the market and finding one for a good price at your local thrift store or picking up an extra one at a yard sale could save you some money.  My recommendation is at least getting a scorch resistant cover that is padded like the Kennedy Home Collection cover.  This cover will fit most ironing boards and the fact that it is scorch resistance makes me feel good.

I wouldn’t pick up a cover used and if you are using someone else’s make sure it is clean or it could permanently stain your clothing.  It is worth spending the extra few dollars to get a nice cover.  If you can’t find a decent ironing board then I recommend picking a small ironing board to get you started to like the Presswood table-top ironing board.

Other Items That Might Come In Handy for Ironing

Mary Ellen's Best Press Clear Starch Alternative 16 Ounces-Caribbean BeachA spray bottle is inexpensive and is perfect to have around for those difficult wrinkles to get out.  If your iron doesn’t have a good steam function then you might have to wet the shirt prior to ironing.  Using tap water for your ironing may not be the best idea because it could contain high amounts of magnesium and calcium which could damage your iron and also your clothing.  Drinking water is perfect for ironing because it still contains minerals that act as a wetting agent that assists water in vaporizing.

Having some extra towels around is always handy in case you get excess water on the fabric and you need to soak it up.  If you don’t have an ironing board then you can roll up the towel and craft your own by inserting the towel in the sleeves.

Now the last item on the list is optional and some swear by it.  Using starch is a great way to get that perfect, crisp shirt.  Some things you want to avoid are using too high of a temperature setting which may cause flaking.  Gently spray the shirt with a light mist of starch about a minute in advance before ironing and don’t overdue it.  You can always make your own cornstarch or pick some up in an aerosol can for ease.

It is Time to Iron Your Dress Shirt

The best time to iron your shirt is when you have a block of time to do multiple shirts.  My advice is to not let your shirts dry fully and take them out of the machine while they have a little moisture in them still.  Half the time of ironing is in the prep stage like getting out your ironing board and filling up your iron with water.  Once you get good at ironing it will take a matter of minutes to finish this task.

First steps before ironing:

The first step to take is to be aware of the fabric the shirt is made out of by looking at the tag.  This will give you an idea of which temperature setting to use.  Remember that cotton shirts can withstand higher temperatures than say polyester.  If there is no tag and you are unsure of which temperature to start at, it is always good to start at low heat and then move your way up while not damaging your shirt.

When Ironing A Shirt Backfires

If the shirt you are ironing is dry then it is a good idea to use your spray bottle and dampen the fabric.  This will help you release the wrinkles in your shirt much easier than just relying on steam.  Don’t iron the shirt when they are sopping wet, just moist.  If you have a shirt that is made from either cotton or silk then it is a good idea that you let the pros do it or follow special instructions to handle these fabrics.

Youtube Video on how to iron your shirt:

1. Starting With the Shirt Collar

This is where I like to start ironing and it is one area that will be seen regardless if you are wearing a jacket or suit.  If you are pressed for time and will be wearing a coat over your dress shirt all day then you can get away with ironing just the collar, cuffs, and front of your shirt.

Ironing Dress Shirt Collar

You want to lift the collar up and lay it flat underside on the ironing board making sure there is some moisture in the collar.  Once the collar is flat against the ironing board, you want to iron the collar from one side to another.  If any wrinkles come up, you want to push them to the bottom which will hide them.  After you have finished the underside you will need to flip the collar over and do the top side.

2. Ironing the Front of the Shirt

Lay the side of the shirt with the buttons on it across the board as flat as you can.  Iron the shirt in the middle first around the buttons (make sure not to put the iron on top the buttons!).  After you are done with the center of the shirt, move to the top of the shirt or shoulder area and iron down the shirt.

Ironing The Front Of Your Shirt

On the opposite side of the shirt you want to start with the center and if you have a placket, you want to pay attention to this high visibility area and spend some extra time smoothing out the wrinkles.  Just like the other side of the shirt, you want to iron from the shoulder down and if there is a shirt pocket then after running the iron down the shirt.  Run the iron over the pocket starting from the bottom up to get any extra wrinkles out.

3. Time to Iron the Back of the Shirt

You want to have the shirt laying down on the board with the front and sleeves laying off to the side.  You want to make sure the yoke (shoulder area) of the shirt is flat across the top of the board and you want to make sure you start from the top and work your way down the shirt.  Also, you can move the shirt from side to side across the board if it isn’t wide enough for the entire shirt.

4. Ironing the Cuffs and Sleeves

To iron the cuffs you want to make sure that they are unbuttoned before proceeding.  Start by ironing the inside of the cuff moving all the wrinkles to the edge of the fabric.  After doing the inside of the cuff you want to iron the outside of the cuff avoiding the buttons.  Now it’s time for some fun!

Ironing-the -sleeves

I saved the best for last and the sleeves of the shirt can cause the most trouble.  The most important thing with sleeves is to make sure that they are completely flat on the board.  Remember that you will be ironing two pieces of fabric.  When lining up the sleeve to lay flat make sure you do it by the seam to get the best results.

If you see creases from previous times that the sleeves were ironed, make sure you line those up again so you get a single crease line instead of some new ones.  When ironing make sure you move from the center of the shirt out to the end of the sleeve when ironing.  You want to make sure the fabric of the shirt remains flat and it doesn’t bunch up.

Final Thoughts on Ironing Your Dress Shirts

After you are done with your ironing, inspect the shirt for wrinkles and then hang them up on a hanger.  Once you iron a few shirts you will be a pro, just make sure you are ironing a clean shirt and follow the instructions on the tag so you don’t damage the fabric.  Most of the advice from this article is common sense and if you don’t know, ask in the comments below.

Ironing Your Dress Pants

This article is already long enough, so I have included a video on ironing your pants as well so you can get your ironing done in one shot.  Make sure you always know what fabric your pants are constructed of before changing your temperature settings on your iron.

Youtube Video on how to iron dress pants:

About Nick Dean

I love to go on treks even if it is out in my backyard. If I am not on treks, I am at the office working and trying to keep a good eye out for men's fashion. It is important to me to look sharp while being comfortable and I will share my findings here.

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