Shirt collars, silk and filmy trousers: a beginner’s guide to perfect ironing

José Mourinho has said that he does not know how to iron, and when it comes to ironing correctly, he is not alone. This is how the experts do it

José Mourinho brought style to the Premier League. “Every man should have a white shirt in his wardrobe,” he once proclaimed. “Sooner or later you will need it.”

It always seemed that his perfectionism made him the type of man who, despite his wealth, would take charge of his own wardrobe. There he would be, relaxing in front of the Game of the Day, methodically folding his charcoal cashmere jumpers and starching his blue shirts.

But when explaining why he chose to live in a hotel while he was Manchester United manager, he revealed himself as lacking in the domestic department: “I would have to iron, I don’t know how.” None of us do, right? Lynsey Crombie, aka Queen of Clean, answers some pressing questions.

How are shirts ironed?
Always start with the collar – start in the middle and work your way out because if you iron it straight it can cause lumps and bumps. I don’t use starch. These days it’s not necessary, as many shirts have gussets at the neck. Next, make the yoke, the part that goes across the upper back and shoulders, then the sleeves, cuffs, and main body. As soon as you have ironed it, place it on a hanger and hang it with space around it.

What about iron fitted sheets?
I iron fitted sheets so they fit perfectly in the closet. If you don’t iron them, you tend to screw them in and tuck them in. The trick here is to fold the sheet in half and then in a quarter. I don’t bother ironing the elastic parts separately; I fold it up, so the sheet is square, then iron it.

Should you use linen spray?
I don’t, but if I’m out without an iron, I do a spray with white wine vinegar diluted with warm water. Spray garment, then pull to remove wrinkles.

When do you change the settings of your iron?
I separate my ironing pile. I wash my delicates on the lowest setting first, then work my way to the items that need the hottest setting.

What fabrics should you not iron?
I iron everything. Silk is the only one you have to be careful with; I put a kitchen towel on top to prevent damage. Be careful with lace or mesh on the garments; iron them inside out or place a slightly damp cloth over the top. You may not need to iron it anyway.

Should I iron handkerchiefs and kitchen towels?
It is personal preference. I think an ironed handkerchief looks better. Sometimes I iron tea towels, because then they fit very well in the drawer.

How about a pleated skirt?
Do. Put it on your ironing board and turn it over, pressing each fold once.

And pants?
No. I used to have an ironing business and people would give me their pants to iron, and it was disgusting. But it is a personal choice. If you want hot, steamy pants, iron them.

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