Most people hate ironing, but I admit to finding a strange pleasure in it. There’s something gratifying about passing a hot iron over cloth, and seeing a wrinkled mess transform back into a smooth, familiar garment. It is, however, a chore, and like all chores, there are better and worse ways of doing things. Over the years, I’ve picked up ten practices that I think not only help speed the process, but also improve the results.
Dampen your shirts. Most irons are terrible at giving off steam, so before your start ironing, dampen your shirt with some water from a spray bottle (set it on mist, not stream). This will help soften up the fibers.
Put damp shirts in a plastic bag. Let the water soak in and evenly distribute by rolling up your damp shirts and putting them in a plastic bag. This will also prevent the water from evaporating. I typically spray down three shirts at a time, and let them soak while I work on the others.
Press down. Get the job done faster by actually pressing down on the iron. Do this to the back though, not the front, otherwise you risk pushing in new wrinkles.
Don’t crease the sleeves. Unless you’re in the military, sleeves shouldn’t be creased to the edge. So, iron right up to the edge and stop. You can also use sleeve boards.
Iron the thick parts first. To avoid having to do touch-ups, iron things such as the collar, placket, and cuffs first. They’re less likely to wrinkle than the thinner, larger areas such as your shirt’s back.
Gently iron around buttons, snaps, and hooks. Don’t iron over them, as they can crack or melt.
Don’t flatten the collar. Iron your collar so that it’s flat and smooth, but don’t use your iron to fold it down entirely. Instead, iron just the back of the fold, where the collar would touch the back of your neck, then use your hands to fold down the rest of the collar.
Get a good ironing board.Countertop ones are small, but they don’t give you enough space to work. Foldable, four-legged ones are the business. I like ones with slightly narrower, pointy ends, so I can get to tough-to-reach places on my shirt.
Avoid over-ironing. Remember this bit from Seinfeld? Yes, something can be too dry. Iron up to the point where the last bit of moisture can evaporate after five minutes of hanging. Otherwise, you risk making the cloth shiny, brittle, or even a bit yellow with time.
Button everything up. If you iron in batches, button your shirts all the way up before hanging them. This will help you avoid that wavy, bacon-like placket that can result from a shirt hanging too long in your closet.