The Basics of Ironing Clothing and Linens

Antique Bed LinensIroning chores around the home don't have to be difficult. With a few proper techniques and the right materials, you can achieve professional results in a short period of time.

Ironing Flat Linen Items

Embroidered monograms and embellishments on fine linens look best when they pop up crisply from the polished cloth around them. Here are a few techniques to properly iron flat linen items, like pillowcases and tablecloths. For best results, use a heavy iron with steam and steam-surge functions and a sturdy ironing board.

Lightly spritz the linen until damp, and set it in a laundry basket lined with towels. To keep embroidery looking sharp and distinct, put the monogram face down on a towel, and iron it from behind; if the embroidery is particularly elaborate, iron it on a double thickness of towel.

Then turn the linen over and iron the area around the monogram from the front of the embroidered design. If your linen has a delicate fringe, comb through it with a natural-bristle brush to untangle any knots. Fold into thirds, making sure the monogram is in the center fold.

Ironing a Shirt

Ironing a shirt is one of those jobs that few people enjoy. Trying to guide an iron around buttons, while fussing with sleeves can sometimes result in the shirt becoming even more wrinkled. The task can leave you feeling discouraged and turning to the dry cleaner each time you need a dress shirt to look pristine. But ironing a shirt isn't a difficult objective to achieve. Here are some tips for ironing a shirt that can make the job more bearable.


Well-washed, damp shirtSpray bottle filled with waterTerry-cloth towelSpray sizingHeavy steam ironHeavy-duty ironing boardDirections:Start with a well-washed, damp shirt. Make sure that cotton and linen shirts are almost wet when ironing. If necessary, spritz the shirt with water, gather the shirt into a loose mound and wrap it in a terry-cloth towel.Remove the shirt from the towel. Lightly spray the shirt with spray sizing. Sizing, unlike starch, will give you a more polished look without the stiffness of starch. Allow the shirt to sit for a few minutes to absorb the sizing before continuing.Set the iron to high. Cover an ironing board with a single layer of terry-cloth towels. Iron the inside of the cuffs, followed by the front of the sleeves and tabs on the sleeves.Turn the shirt face down on the ironing board and iron over the buttons and pockets of the shirt from the back of the shirt. The terry-cloth towel will prevent the buttons from melting from the heat of the iron and the pockets will not be wrinkled.Iron the outside of the sleeves and the outside of the cuffs.Slip the shirt over the end of the ironing board, and iron the yoke of the shirt. (The yoke is the part of the shirt that covers your shoulders.)Move to the back of the shirt and iron smooth. Iron the outside of the yoke.Iron around the buttons on the two fronts of the shirt.Spray the collar of the shirt lightly with sizing, stretch the collar slightly and iron over each side of the collar. Fold under the collar and iron along the seam of the collar. Hang the shirt on a plastic or wooden hanger, buttoning only the top button to hold the shirt upright.You can find high quality ironing boards, irons and other items available at your local department or housewares stores. With these techniques at your fingertips, your fine linens and shirts will always look their best when in use or in storage.