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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
An ironing masterclass
1: Collar: Start with the underside
2: Shoulder yoke: Slip each shoulder over the narrow end of the board and press from shoulder to centre of the back
3: Cuffs: Inside first, then outside
4: Sleeves: Iron cuff opening side first, then the reverse
5: Body: Use wide end of the board, iron front panels first, then the back
6: Voila!: Re-press the collar and hang it up

Prince Harry will have to iron his own clothes at Sandhurst academy, in a particular way instructed by the Army. We could all do with some help, so what are the hot tips?

It's the household chore everyone hates, especially on a Sunday night with a stack of laundry piled high and the work clothes crumpled among them.

Ironing is part of the domestic routine, but few have truly mastered the art, and many are bored by it.

So how to avoid ironing more creases into the clothes? And how to eliminate that slap-dash approach which could render an outfit ruined?


Officer cadet arrives at Sandhurst
Sandhurst cadets get on board
Use a steam iron for better results and get a good ironing board with a wide end.

Start in the middle of the garment and move outwards in up and down strokes.

Follow temperature instructions according to the fabric and if unsure, test on a hidden part of the clothing.


The most commonly ironed item of clothing, the shirt is also one of the hardest because of its many parts. So it's important to pick an ironing sequence and stick to it.

Carol Trout of Flair Laundercare in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, says: "There is no right way, it all depends on individual preference and what people find easier. Personally, I start with the collar, then the neck and back, then the cuffs, then the sleeves, then the front and the body."

Laundry facilities at Caversham Park during the war
Once a chore, always a chore
Picking the moment to iron is important, says John Kelly, owner of Belfast Laundry Company.

"Make sure the shirts are not too dry," he says. "Take them out of the drier within two minutes. If they feel like they're almost dry then that's perfect to iron them and they will be nice and crisp.

"If they're too dry, then the creases will come back and they're difficult to shift. Starch may help but it won't cure it."

Whether to crease the sleeve or not is a question often pondered, and Mr Kelly says business people currently seem to like the crease.

"When I was doing specialised executive shirts a few years ago, the machine didn't do the crease and people liked it. Now they ask for it. It just depends on what the executives are wearing and others copy."

A key tip is to use the wide end of the board so more of the shirt can be ironed before it needs to be rearranged. And use a water spray for stubborn wrinkles.

To avoid shininess, see trouser tips below.


Follow the crease of the trousers and start by doing the pockets.

Turn the trousers inside-out and lay them flat, one leg on top of the other, with the seams aligned. Fold the top leg back and iron the bottom leg. Repeat on the other leg.

Do the outside of each leg in the same way. To set a new crease, use the steam boost.

To avoid getting the horrible shininess common in wool or dark fabrics, Mr Kelly advises using a damp cloth or tea towel to protect the trousers. But a good steam iron at the right temperature should avoid that problem.

Here is a selection of your ironing tips. The debate is now closed.

My wife loves me! Since I left the Army after three years and Sandhurst I cannot bear her ironing my shirts. Its not that she doesnt try and get them right and probably to the lay-ironer they look great but, as Harry will find out, not good enough.
Mark, London

The fire alarm in the hotel may have gone off but after an hour in hot shower steam the shirts had no creases. also no buttons! So my tip for the business men while staying away from home... pay for the shirts to be ironed at the start of the week at the hotel. about 3.95 a shirt
Dan, Milton Keynes

Soap's great for sharp creases in trousers but rots the cloth eventually - very embarassing on the parade ground...
Angus Henney, London

What is Wil Davis talking about? If you iron the front first, it drags on the ground getting creased while you do the rest. For me, the most important thing is to get sleeve creases parallel with any pattern in the material. If you're in a hurry, just do the collar, cuffs and chest area and keep your jacket on et voila.
Rob, London

I don't find ironing a chore anymore- use a simple distraction technique: set aside part of the night when there's a good hour or two of tv or radio programmes, pour out a glass or two of whatever you enjoy, and the ironing just seems to get done- no effort involved. Also, with a good dance beat on you can get down to 3 or 4 minutes a shirt
Basil Long, newark, notts

My husband's Dad was in the Army and taught my husband to (and I quote) iron properly. Therefore, I am never allowed to iron because 'I don't do it correctly'. Who am I to argue? I get well ironed clothes without having to do it myself!
Paula, Belgium (from UK)

Eliza from Bucks is right. I won't let my wife iron my (now civvy) clothes. I do them myself, my mum was the same, creases in the wrong place, dress whites hung out on the line without being turned inside out. Honestly it makes you wonder if they've ever had a Warrant Officer inspect their kit.....

Two tips to avoid ironing: 1) Give clothes a good shake and pull before hanging them out to dry and the worst creases will be gone. It also helps if its windy! 2) Avoid getting a job where you need to wear smartly pressed clothes!
Will, Derby

Ironing order: back, front panels, sleeves collar. Iron shirts inside out - that way the sleeves will have a reverse crease which hangs better on the arms than the normal crease which makes the arm look as if it's been vacuum-sealed in the shirt.
Wil Davis, Nashua, NH, U S of A

Have an old spray bottle (commonly used for bathroom and Kitchen cleaner) filled with water, and spray the mist on any badly creased areas, then its much easier to iron out (and better than the irons in built spray).
Edward, Leeds, Uk

My best ironing tip: don't be too much of a perfectionist! No matter how crisp and perfect my shirt may be when ironed, after sitting on the bus to work for an hour and a half it will always have picked up a few creases.
Ian, Edinburgh, UK

To get razor sharp creases in both shirts and trouser use a brown paper bag (It has to be brown) Iron over the paper bag and presto creases as sharp as you could ever want and would pass any officers inspection.
Dan Mason, Norwich, Norfolk

Marks & Sparks do great non-polish shoes, stay pressed trousers and non-iron shirts. Life is too short
R Grime, manchester

Just stop caring. There are far more important things in life than whether your clothes are perfectly flat. Besides, your body isn't perfectly flat is it? The entire construct is an exercise in absurdity.
Andrew Rodgers, London, UK

If you don't own an ironing board, a folded-up towel on the floor makes a great substitute!! I ironed my clothes that way for years!
K Ulbrich, Dundee

Just put your clothes under your mattress and then go to sleep. Hey presto, in the morning everything is lovely and flat. Little tip acquired at Uni - who says education is a waste?
Emma Stevens, Lymington

Textile companies have spent millions of pounds and thousands of hours developing non-iron fabrics. Who are we to say they shouldn't have bothered? Just don't do it!
June, Birmingham

Tip for Tom of Cardiff; don't go for a quick pint forgetting your shirt in the shower room or you'll end up setting the fire alarms off sparking the evacuation of an entire hotel. Just ask my mate Dan ;-)
Phil G, Warrington, UK

Ironing? Don't do it! Buy non-iron shirts, hang them up from the washing machine, no creases.
Phil, Chelmsford

If you get your clothes out the tumble dryer quick enough and lie them out on a flat surface you can avoid ironing altogether. Yes, I am a student.
Jono Seaton, Southampton

Always iron shirts damp or use a steam generator iron. If they get creased in the wardrobe, hang in the bathroom while you shower and the creases will drop out.
Tom Clarkson, Cardiff, South Wales

Tips to future spouses of soldiers, sailors and airmen/women. Remember they have spent a long time to learn how to iron so they are experts. Should they ask you a mere civvie to iron their uniform, give the creases double tram lines and you will never be asked again. They are also well trained in polishing shoes, I haven't polished one for years!
Eliza, Bucks

To get a good crease on trousers you should rub the inside of the crease from top to bottom with a bar of soap. Turn the trousers the right way out and use a damp but not wet cloth over the crease and a steam iron on high heat. This will provide an excellent stay crease.
mike tomkinson, Bradford

My best tip - there are some great small companies around who will take it all away and bring it back all finished!
Steve, Bedford

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