How to Professionally Steam Press a Shirt

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Bringing your shirts to the dry cleaner every time you need them pressed can be very expensive. For many people though, the prospect of steam pressing a dress shirt at home is a very daunting task. However, it doesn't have to be. With the right equipment, some patience and time, you can steam press your shirts to perfection at home. There are many elements to consider when steam pressing a shirt, but if you begin with a clean, damp shirt and follow the steps below, you will be able to steam press your shirt like a professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Spray starch
  • Cool distilled water in a spray bottle
  • Electrical outlet
  • Towel
  • Clothes hanger
  • Spray the shirt lighlty with distilled water, roll it up and wrap it inside a clean towel.

  • Allow the shirt to remain in the towel for 5 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute evenly throughout. You want the shirt to be slightly damp when you begin to press it.

  • Orient the ironing board so that the widest side is closest to your dominant hand.

  • Plug in the iron and set the temperature according to the instructions on your shirt's label. When the iron is at the desired temperature, turn on the steam function.

  • Unroll the damp shirt and place it on the ironing board, with the back of the collar (the part seen from the back when you wear the shirt) facing upward.

  • Press the iron along the collar, beginning at the corners working your way to the middle of the collar. Pull the fabric gently with your hand as you press, so that all wrinkles are removed. Flip the shirt over and do the same to the inside of the collar (the part of the shirt that touches your neck when you wear it).

  • Unbutton the cuff on the right sleeve, spread it out along the wide part of the ironing board and begin to press it, working from the outside corners towards the middle. Repeat on the other sleeve.

  • Slide the right sleeve of the shirt onto the narrow part of the ironing board so that the yoke (shoulder) is flat against the board. Adding some more distilled water, begin to press the shoulders, getting rid of any wrinkles. Add enough water to keep the shirt damp but not wet. Repeat on the left side.

  • Place the arm of the right sleeve flat on the ironing board and begin to press it, moving your iron around the perimeter and then working your way to the middle. Take your time and be sure to smooth out all wrinkles. Once one side of the right sleeve is pressed, flip the sleeve over and press the other side in the same way. Repeat on the left sleeve.

  • Slide the back of the shirt over the large end of the ironing board and begin to press the back of the shirt, paying special attention to seams.

  • Turn the shirt over and lay the front right side of the shirt on the ironing board. If the shirt has dried, spray it lightly with the distilled water. Begin to press the front of the shirt, beginning from the collar and working your way down. Be sure to pay special attention to the placket where the buttons are located, going around each button with the tip of your iron. Repeat on the left side.

  • Place the shirt on the hanger and allow it to dry completely before wearing it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use extra steam and pressure when ironing seams and the button placket; if these parts don't look smooth, the entire shirt will look wrinkly.
  • Use spray starch for extra crispness around the collar and the cuffs.
  • Be sure to keep the iron moving throughout the process; leaving an iron on the same area of fabric can burn the shirt.
  • Never steam press a shirt that has not been recently laundered. Heat steaming can set in stains that haven't yet been washed out.

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