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Shortcuts: How to iron a shirt

By Alison Daniels for CNN
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Ironing a shirt is a necessary chore of modern living. But simply setting up the ironing board can be a challenge never mind working out the temperature settings or getting your collar crisp and creases straight. Fortunately the Briefing Room has compiled this handy guide.

The basics.

Start with a clean, damp shirt. Do not be tempted to run an iron over yesterday's shirt. If you iron clothes which are dirty or stained the heat may set the stain.

Your tools

American domestic guru Martha Stewart advises using a heavy iron and an ironing board with a terry toweling cover. Other accessories include a water sprayer.

Check. Next?

Set your iron to the right temperature. That means reading the care label. All your efforts to eliminate creases will be wasted if the first sweep of the iron sees you burning a hole in your shirt.

Does it matter where I start?

On this point the experts disagree. Stewart says start with the cuffs. Others say start with the back. Whatever you do make sure your shirt is placed smoothly over the ironing board and flatten it out with your hand. It doesn't save time to iron in more wrinkles.

The sleeves

The trick here is to avoid creating a second crease down the length of the arm beside the original one. Nothing looks more amateurish. Turn the shirt inside out and use the tip of the iron to follow the line of the seam.

The collar

The hardest part. If you've left this bit until last make sure it's still damp. Spritz with your water sprayer then stretch tight. Iron on both sides. Next fold the collar down and -- don't rush this bit -- press carefully along the seam.

Hang up!

For goodness sake make sure you have a hanger to hand. There is absolutely no point in dangling your pressed shirt over an armchair or off a door handle. Hang on a hanger (wooden please) and fasten the top button to ensure the shirt hangs straight.

Any suggestions for making the task less dull?

Yes. If it's thrills you're after how about joining the (minority) sport of Extreme Ironing. Invented in Britain the "sport" involves ironing in the wilderness, up a mountain or even while parachuting from a plane.

Mmm ... I'm not very sporty.

Never mind. There are a number of machines on the market that claim to do the job for you. Check out a new Spanish invention, the "Driron." Simply hang your washed shirts on hangers inside the wardrobe-like machine and switch on. Two hours later your shirts are dry and wrinkle free. Or how about the Dressman by Siemens? This works by inflating your shirt, forcing out all the wrinkles.



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