Step 1: Wash Correctly
As we mentioned, your dress shirts deserve the proper care. So start by washing them on warm on a gentle cycle. A batch of whites can be washed in a hot cycle for extra cleaning power. The addition of a color enhancer like Oxy Clean can also help keep those whites extra bright. If you’re dealing with stained collars and pits, pre-treat them with a bit of laundry soap for about 30 minutes before hand. Don’t forget to remove those collar stays too. After the cycle, pull them out and hang them up, you’ll want to press while they are still damp but not soaking wet.
Step 2: Prep for Pressing
Heat up your iron on the cotton setting, and make sure your shirts are damp from the wash but not soaking. Since you’re ironing your shirts while damp, steam or water is unnecessary. If you’re ironing a dry shirt, use the steam setting or a few quick sprays of water on each section before you press, the steam and moisture will help release stubborn wrinkles. Make sure the metal plate of your iron is clean and free of rust and build up. Maybe this goes without saying, but that iron is damn hot so unless you’re making grilled cheese sandwiches with it, be aware.
Step 3: Iron Properly
You want to use a fair amount of pressure and multiple glides over the surface to release all the wrinkles. The damp fabric will create natural steam and help release the wrinkles and create a crisp feel and finish. Once you’re done pressing hang your shirt up and let it dry completely over night.
Start With The Collar
Flip the collar up and place it facedown on the board. Start ironing the collar from the center to the out to avoid creasing. For a sharp collar edge, evenly fold the collar back over and firmly press down and glide the iron across the top of the collar.
Lay one shoulder over the narrow end of the board and iron the shoulder piece. Repeat on the other side. Don’t neglect this section where the shoulder section of fabric joins the back panel and get all the small corners.
This is part where you always ask yourself the question, “does it really matter?” Unless you don’t plan on taking off your jacket at all or are in a huge rush, the answer is “yes”, it’s still important to follow thru on every step. For the back, simply drape the shirt over the board aligning the side steam with the edge of the board and glide the iron evenly from top to bottom. Switch over to the opposite side and repeat the same steps. Make sure to look out for any pleating or box pleating on the back of your shirt, you want to maintain those creases.
Sleeves and Cuffs
You’re almost done, let’s keep it professional and make sure to pay attention to the details. Simply unbutton the sleeves lay flat and iron. Give an extra press to the cuffs and make sure you don’t put too much pressure on the buttons, the heat and steam can crack them.
Finish With The Front
Start by laying the front of your shirt across the board, and align the side seam with the edge of the board and get to work. Pull the shirt over and press between the buttons (not over them) and give extra attention to the placket on the opposite side. Next, pull the shirt off and push the top of the ironing board into the armhole to get a good angle on those nooks and crannies. By making the front of your shirt the last step you will decrease the chances of your shirt get wrinkled before you get a chance to wear it.
Now take a step back, admire your handiwork, and pat yourself on the back (you probably deserve a beer too), you deserve a congratulations. You're officially on the road to self sufficiency, sharp presentation, and some sweet savings.