There are not many people who look forward to doing the ironing: especially the shirts. Some lucky tykes have a domestic cleaner, who swooshes in and does the ironing for them. The rest of us just have to battle – or iron – on.
The industry knows how unsuccessful ironing can be and has bent over backwards help. Sturdy tables replaced wobbling, flimsy ironing boards. These days, boards keep the chord away from the iron; there are a wonderful few that have a socket attached.
Steam irons and a plethora of products mean the once arduous job can now fly by, but absolutely you still have to actually do the ironing – like it or not!
So, how do you iron a shirt? Well, you'd think it would go without saying, but you need an iron – and to be in a well-lit area. Cleaners set their ironing boards up near a socket, with the wide end under your dominant hand (wide to the left if you're left-handed, to the right if you're right-handed). The board levels most comfortably at your waist.
It's best to iron as soon as possible after washing, but this is not always practical. A little 'cleaner's tip': for really crumpled tops spray on a little water and leave it in a plastic bag for 30 minutes or so. This will release the wrinkles a little and the slight damp will make ironing easier.
Nothing beats a steam iron for getting a shirt perfect. Pour filtered or distilled water up to the 'max' line of the iron's reservoir. Calcified water will jam up your iron, preventing the steamer working properly. Even worse, a calked iron drags rusty stains over your clean clothes.
First, plug in the iron (right back to basics!) And let it heat up to the right temperature for your shirt – check the label! Enjoy some cleaner's wisdom: if you have several shirts to iron, heat the iron to the coolest level needed first (the synthetic shirts), and increase the heat as you go. Cotton shirts need the hottest temperature.
Unbutton each shirt and turn dark shirts inside out – ironing on the outside will make the shiny.
Assume the position: the wide part of the board and your iron next to your writing-hand.
Most professional cleaners that count ironing among their tasks, start from the top of the shirt and work down.
Lay the collar on the board, inside facing up. Iron from the points to the center; do the same on the other side. Fold down the collar, in the line that you wear it, and press – so it will snuggle comfortably to your neck.
The shoulder yoke comes next – the fabric that stretches over your shoulders! – iron in from the tip of the shoulder to the middle of the back; flip over the shirt and press the other shoulder.
First iron the inside of the cuff, then the outside.
Follow the seam to guide you and smooth the sleeve down as straight as you can with your hand before you run the iron over it. Work from the cuff opening, up the sleeve, pressing out the creases as you go, using your hand to flatten it before the iron gets there – being careful to not iron your hand!
With one side of the sleeve ironed, the other side is much easier. Turn it over and repeat. Iron right into the shoulder seams. If you want a crease, and you're ironing the outside of a light shirt, glide the iron along the fold in a smooth moment.
Do the same with the other sleeve.
Almost finished now – go you!
Lay one front panel over the narrow end of the ironing board. If you have pockets, sort them out first. Although you're almost finished, do not start to rush – rushed ironing will result in new creases, which are harder to get out.
Start from the bottom of the shirt and work up to the collar, making sure you press right into the seams. Detail around the buttons before moving to the other front panel.
In a flurry of delight, woosh your shirt up and lay the biggest, last part of the shirt – the back – out on the board, keeping any other parts of the shirt away. Do not go ironing in a massive crease simply because you wanted to finish.
Again, push right into the seams and cover the whole of the back area.
There you go, all done. Stick it on a hanger and hang it in the wardrobe if you're not wearing it right away. It makes a lot more sense to do all of your shirts in one hit, so you do not have to set the board up and heat the iron up every day.When you get good at it, you'll even be able to watch the TV – some domestic cleaners even considering doing the ironing as a break!