How to Stiffen a Shirt

by Kimberly Johnson

Soft, slightly wrinkled shirts are typically acceptable for casual wear, but the same is not true for work clothes or formal wear. For a polished appearance, stiffen your shirt with a spray starch in one of several grades from light to heavy. The stiffness depends primarily on your personal preference. However, heavily starched shirts are stiff enough to hold sharp creases along the arms and withstand most unsightly wrinkles that occur as you sit or wear jackets.

Open an ironing board and plug in an iron to begin heating up. Locate and read the fabric care label on your shirt to determine the appropriate heat setting.

Unbutton the shirt and lay the front buttons towards the ironing board. Spray a thin layer of starch over all surfaces of the shirt. Set the starch aside and roll up the shirt. Let it sit for one to two minutes to allow the starch to soak into the fabric.

Lay the shirt face down on the ironing board with the front flaps hanging over the sides. Place the iron on the back of the collar and apply firm pressure to all surfaces of it.

Reposition the shirt so the left arm lays along the ironing board. Iron the sleeve starting at the shoulder and working your way down to the cuff. Repeat the process on the right sleeve. To prevent wrinkles, ensure the fabric contains no folds or ripples.

Iron the right front of the shirt thoroughly to remove all wrinkles. Repeat with the left front of the shirt.

Flip the shirt over to iron the back of the shirt.

Hang the shirt up immediately and place it in a location where it can air dry completely. Do not place it into the closet, since other clothing may crowd it and cause wrinkles in the still damp fabric.

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Items you will need

  • Ironing board
  • Iron
  • Heavy spray starch
  • Hanger
  • Liquid starch (optional)
  • Lint-free cloth (optional)


  • In addition to a stiffer shirt, starch repels stains, making laundering easier.


  • If you notice white flakes during ironing, you did not allow the starch to fully soak into the fabric before applying heat. Wipe the flakes off using short, firm strokes and a lint-free cloth. Turn the shirt inside out and iron from that side to prevent additional flaking.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

Photo Credits

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