What You’ll Need:

A clean iron

An ironing board

Water in a spray bottle

A pressing cloth

Some light starch if you like to use it

Ironing board or valeting table really is necessary. “Any old flat surface” can do in a pinch, but that’s more of an emergency measure than anything else. Ironing boards are specially made to make the job easier, but more than that, they’re wrapped in special material that’s not only flame retardant, but also breathable so that steam is able to escape from underneath the item you’re ironing. Butlers, Valets or Ladies Maids will often have a valeting table which will have a soft padding (old blanket) the covered in a white cloth (old bed sheet).


It’s best to start with the back then sleeves, since the sleeves will be just fine hanging off the sides of the ironing board while you finish the rest of the shirt. Doing it the other way around, and leaving the sleeves for last, will end up causing wrinkles in other parts of the shirt that you’ve already ironed.

Open the cuffs and press the hidden side if double cuffs press flat and do not press in the fold! This is something that many ironing newcomers get wrong all the time.

When doing the collar of the shirt, make sure you open it up and lay it flat and start pressing the underside. Just like the cuffs, people tend to think that this is opposite of what they should do, since they’re used to seeing the collar in the down position at all times so press it folded.

Afterwards, let the shirt hang for a few minutes to fully cool down. Ironing heats the fabric to a very high relative temperature, and the “flatness” actually sets in during the cool-down phase, so wearing it immediately could negate some of the hard work you just put into ironing it in the first place.


To avoid damage and unpleasant shine use a pressing cloth if unsure if your iron plate coating is not protected.

There’s a reason people say “press” instead of “iron” for trousers. Even though you’ll still be using an iron, it’s gentle pressure and steam that are going to do the work, not so much the motion and heat of the iron itself.

If you’ve lost your main crease, finding it again is easy. Just lay the trousers flat on the ironing board or valeting table, and line up the seams of the leg to match. The crease is as far from those seams as the fabric goes.

The crease should go all the way up the leg, stopping at about six inches below the waist. If there are pleats, then the crease can go all the way to the pleat. Always set the front crease first.

If you’ve pressed in a crease, the pants should hang by the waistband for at least an hour or two to set. If you don’t put creases in your trousers, don’t worry about it! Just give them a few minutes to cool.


To avoid damage and unpleasant shine use a pressing cloth if unsure if your iron plate coating is not protected.

For most skirts, it’s as simple as starting at the top and working your way down. An exception would be for skirts that flare out suddenly at the bottom, with what are called “flounces.” For flounced skirts, you’d want to start at the bottom, and iron each flounce first, then work your way up toward the waist. Basically, skirts are just plain easy—you just need to be careful about the fabric.

Use the Right Heat for the Right Fabrics

Fabrics like silk and polyester both need special attention, because it doesn’t take much to ruin them with an iron. For either one, make sure you’re always using the lowest setting your iron has. Though it’s not required, you should also use a barrier cloth made of linen (something like baking paper also works pretty well). Linen is used instead of cotton because it doesn’t shed lint, and it’s very breathable—which allows steam to pass through it.

Use the medium setting for wool and rayon, while keeping the iron set to high heat for cotton and linen. If you’re unsure about the fabric type you’re about to iron, go one step below just to be safe. If the wrinkles aren’t coming out, then you can try lightly ironing on a higher setting.

Cleaning the Iron

Always empty the iron of any water after use to avoid the elements and working parts inside corroding, if not there is a possibility of dirty steam which may stain the clothes next time you start pressing.