How to Iron a Man’s Shirt

Ironing a Man’s Shirt

My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men’s shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don’t know how other people do it, but here is our system:
Flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.
Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back.
Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt’s stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. Spraying with water is generally safer than using the shot-of-steam feature on your iron. If do you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!
Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
UPDATE: The very best iron that I have ever owned is this one from Panasonic. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and costs about $30.00 US. I choose the the Japanese over the Germans here, and if given the same choice in cars, I would do the same.
Washing Your Shirts
Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Wet the grimy, sweaty and stained spots and rub them with a bar of Zote Soap (in the absence of Zote, a bar of Octagon will do). Soak them overnight in a small tub of water, then agitate and rinse by hand, preferably. Hang to dry. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. My husband has been treating his shirts this way for decades, and some of them have lasted for twenty years. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt’s fibers. You’d be surprised at how swiftly they dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, shirts are easy to iron. Sending your expensive or custom-made shirts to the cleaners may seem luxurious, but will sound an early death-knell for them. Getting up-close and personal with your shirts will ensure that they enjoy the good, long life that their maker intended.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton; August, 2007

From The Clothes Line: Elegant Survival of Your Clothing

The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006

The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006

Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fiber-loss and shrinkage. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a microfiber cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. I use a microfibre cloth instead of a brush because it is more gentle on the fabric, while strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs. You don’t need a fancy contraption for clothes-drying; a five-dollar investment in a clothesline from Walmart, and a packet of wooden clothespins for about three dollars will do. Having a couple of trees to hold your clothesline at each end is lucky indeed, but in their absence, wooden posts can be installed.

When travelling, pack a small piece of Zote or Octagon bar-soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing.  You might pack a couple of clothes-pins as well.

The sun and Zote soap both act as  fabric-brighteners, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009