Life @ NCP

not everyone needs to go outside to have fun

Painless Ironing

I have had some more practices of ironing because of the industrial training I had to do for this session. I seemed to be able to do it faster and faster each day (practice makes perfect yay!) so I want to share the techniques I found. This is focused on ironing buttoned-shirts, but I’m sure you will be able to use the advice on other type of garments.

Ironing takes a bloody long time, and what’s worse than spending >20 mins to iron one shirt just to find the back part of the shirt wrinkled because you tried to iron the sleeves? It is annoying. I now spend about <5 mins for a shirt, pretty happy about it but hoping to do it even faster if I can. It is not an enjoyable activity after all, but it just has to be done 🙁

I have two techniques: express and standard. The express one will take <3 mins and the standard will be <5 mins on average. Which one to take depends heavily on the type of material and the shape of the shirt.

Some materials with polyester are extremely easy to iron, even before you put the iron on it, it looks kinda smooth already. Higher percentages of polyester will make it even easier. 100% cottoned garment is a pain. It will usually take so much of your time trying to straighten it. After a long time ironing, it still sometime doesn’t look ironed. Sigh sigh sigh!

The shape of the shirt matters as well. Guys’ shirts tend to have straighter lines and less tucks. Girls’ on the other hand have darts/frills here and there which make them harder to iron.

Some rules of thumb to remember:

  • Use iron with steam. Ironing without water is a nightmare. so steam irons are the best. Takes a lot less time than alternatively sprinkling water and ironing. The iron I’m using is Sunbeam with vertical steam technology.
  • Get a proper ironing board, it does increase your ironing productivity as it makes you easier to pull and push the garments around. Board for traveling is ok I suppose, just make sure you have the pointier section on your left. This is very handy on ironing shoulder areas.


handy pointy section

  • Always iron the smallest area first e.g. collar or sleeves. It is the easiest to be taken down first and being small, it is harder to get wrinkled by future movements. Even if it does, the wrinkles will be less likely to be seen when the shirts are worn.
  • Use your left hand a lot (right hand if you are a lefty). You only need to make a locally level area to iron that particular area of the shirt, do not spend a lot of time to make the entire surface that you are ironing smooth first.
  • Do not iron areas that already are smooth. Ironing does not mean that you have to cover every single cotton on the shirt, if it looks smooth already, then stop and go to the next pile of your laundry.
  • Chuck away your perfectionist obsession. No matter how good you managed to iron the shirt, when it is worn, the smaller wrinkles will always show so don’t waste time on trying to remove those. Plus how often do you see girls with messy skirt (because they sat on them) or guys with wrinkled back on their shirts? I am sure that often happened, but have you ever put much attention to them? I highly doubt it.

Express way

You can do this if you are in a hurry or you know you can do it. It is not as tidy as if you do it the usual way so again don’t be too perfectionist otherwise you’ll spend longer using this way than the standard way. Basically express way saves you time because you will end up ironing less area of the shirt by ironing two layers at the same time.

  1. Button up about 3-4 buttons on the shirt, enough for you to lay the shirt in a straight-ish way on the board.
  2. Straighten the left sleeve with your hands. Iron it and then do the back of that sleeve.
  3. Move to the right sleeve and do exactly the same.
  4. Iron the body facing up (collar facing you) from the top to the bottom. See this pic:
  5. Similarly, do it for the left side of the body. iron5.jpg

  6. Once you have finished that, slide the shirt (still buttoned) such way that you can iron just the back layer of the shirt. See pic: iron4.jpg

  7. That should remove the wrinkles at the back because the button at the front would have hindered you from ironing the back properly.

Standard way

If you don’t like the result of the express way, then do the standard way. This is more robust. It works with higher ironing-difficulty shirt =p These are the steps:

  1. Iron the collar first as it is the smallest area of your shirt.
  2. Straightened the left sleeve with your hands. Iron it and then do the back of that sleeve.
  3. Move to the right sleeve and do exactly the same.
  4. Now we are going to do the right shoulder. Arrange it to be like in the pic: iron1.jpg

  5. Smoothen the area as much as you can. Then move the shirt to iron the back part of the shoulder such shown in this pic: iron2.jpg

  6. Again, try to iron the area as much as you can, but the minimal target is to reach the middle line of the back of the shirt.

  7. Do the same for the left shoulder.

  8. By this step you will find that the shoulders are all smooth. Let’s go to the main body part of the shirt.

  9. This is usually the easiest part to do. So start from the left-front body as shown in this pic: iron3.jpg

  10. Follow your own hands until you do a full circle of ironing from the left-front body, to the back, and then to the right-front body. You will find that the whole left-right directions that I provide here provide a movement continuity. You don’t have to follow them but as you do this way more, you will find that these directions minimalise the efforts needed.

Ok, you’ve reached the end of this very very long entry, hopefully you can find it useful. Please let me know if you try it yourself! 😀