Ironing Tips for My Husband's Pants

Updated on August 22, 2008
J.R. asks from Lewisville, TX
19 answers

I have to be honest and say that I really don't know how to properly iron clothing, especially men's pants. My husband wears mostly 100% cotton pants to work-he really loves khaki tones too. I'm really trying to avoid paying to take them to the cleaners b/c I do have the time, but just not the expertise. I'm only lucky enough to have about 1-2 pairs of them come straight out of the dryer ready to wear. Is that my first problem?? My mom put almost everything in the dryer, so that's what I do too...low heat, but still in the dryer. Would it help at all to hang them to dry after they have been washed?? I hope no one is laughing out there...I'm very good at doing laundry, but ironing pants is a problem.
I have about 5 pairs of his pants...they are washed and dried and hanging in our bedroom right now. First I iron them inside out?? I've gotten white marks on them at times. Use starch, steam or both?? I just need some basic good tips on ironing these pants and some of them are more stiff naturally than others. Again, they are 100% cotton-Docker/Ralph Lauren type.
Thanks so much!!!

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answers from Lubbock on

Have you tried using Faultless PREMIUM Professional Starch? I iron a dress shirt and/or a pair of dress pants for my husband daily, and I've had consistent good luck with this product. It's a little higher than regular spray starch, but it's worth it to avoid annoying starch flakes. Happy ironing!



answers from Wichita Falls on

I use a clothes line - but those hangers with the clips would work just as well. I match up the seams (creasing front and back) and hang upside down - one leg to each line (hanger). My husband wears cargo pants - like solid black military camo - they're stiff, perfectly creased.. all I have to do is touch up the pockets. And sometimes I don't do that.


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answers from Dallas on

I was laughing as I read your post, only because I could have written it myself!!! It is a very legitimate post and I applaud you for posting it and the others for their fantastic responses. I do want to add that my mom and dad both wear Docker-type pants and she has the timing of the dryer down to a science. SHE NEVER HAS TO IRON THEM!!! She pops them in the dryer on low for 10 min. (no more than 10) and pulls them out, "whips" them in the air (does that make sense?) then hangs them by the ankles from those clippy hangers. She never has to iron, unless she misses her 10 minute window of opportunity with the dryer. Good luck, and thanks for posting!!!

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answers from Dallas on

First thing Use your Steam Iron, Put the Top of the Pants on the ironing board ,Iron the top, then take the Pants and find each seam on the leg, Put the seams together, Put the pants long ways of the ironing board. Press the pants on top and on the second leg that is turned up. Turn them over and do the same ,legs together and seams togather,while holding them straight. Iron the same as you did the top before you turned them over.
Hope this helps you.



answers from Jacksonville on

1st tip is that Martha Stuart has great ones for you.

2nd I like to use both starch and steam. A thin cotton baby blanket or a thin smooth towel can help with a dirty iron or one that leaves things on clothes. I like to get an ironing pad that is metallic because it keeps the heat between it and the iron and cuts down on the time it takes to iron. It's a must to line up the inseam and the outer seam together and completely smooth out all of the wrinkles on the top and bottom of the leg. I can't stress that enough. When there are no line to deal with, spray a light layer of starch and rub your hand over it once, put the towel on, then start at the bottom of the pant leg and pressing down with some muscle on the iron. I put the iron up against the inseam and press slightly towards it going slowly up the leg while pressing the steam button. Then I go back to the bottom and start again with the same side and move the iron in a wiggle pattern with the top of the iron but I keep the bottom of the iron kind of in a straight line making sure to get the rest of the pant leg on that side. Then I go to the back of the leg and turn over, do the inside of the other leg and then I fold the pant legs together and go over the outside of the pants. Making sure to smooth out all of the wrinkles before touching the iron to the pants (Every time). I really hopes this helps.

And I would never laugh at someone trying to learn how to do things for themselves, No one should. I look up how to fold napkins and make things myself all the time. My favorite was a seashell wind chime that eventually broke, but I loved it.



answers from Tyler on

See if you can find some more just like the ones that come out of the dryer not needing ironing.

I HATE to iron and told my hubby a long time ago that I would NOT be ironing PERIOD. I am too much of a perfectionist and it takes me 3X as long as any "normal" person. My mom was a seamstress and could whip something out (ironed) in NO TIME.

If you look, you can find some that actually say on the sales tag that they do not need ironing. Whatever you do, do NOT hang them to dry; this only makes it worse. Also do NOT iron inside out; it makes the creases wrong. As for the starch, hold it a little farther away when spraying and move your hand QUICKLY down the pants leg (you can always add more, but you CAN'T take it back once sprayed).

Good luck! :o)


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answers from Dallas on

Like you, I am quite good at keeping up with laundry, house, etc but ironing is NOT my thing. I never had to iron when I was growing up so I never learned how to iron properly. My hubby has custom made pants/shirts and he is picky. It is one of the chores in our house that I just don't do. If something needs touched up he will do it himself.

I use Bibbentuckers Dry Cleaners and they come to my house twice a week for pick up and drop off.

My time is valuable and the costs of the dry cleaner is worth it to us. I don't have to worry about driving across town to drop off/pickup and use about an hour of my time running that errand. I can make that hour saved a lot more profitable doing something else. Also, since my hubby is on the road weekly, I have all of his shirts folded for easier packing.

Good luck!



answers from Tyler on

Hey -
Everyone is telling you how to iron, but they aren't telling you about your iron. The white marks you are getting are more than likely mineral build up inside the tank of your iron. You need to clean your iron - read the directions that came with your iron. If you don't have the directions, you can download some directions for other irons at Also, also put your iron on the mark for the clothing that you are ironing (ie. on cotton for cotton).

Definitely read through your directions on your iron - you will be amazed at the good tips you get out of the manual. Further, if you have an old iron, I highly recommend getting a good new one with the teflon coating or some coating on the bottom. You will be amazed at the difference (if you currently have an old iron). Iron's are expensive, so you will probably get sticker shock if you choose to go to the store and get one.




answers from Abilene on

Take them to the cleaners one time and ask for heavy starch, then after that, just pull them from the dryer, and they should be ready to wear. This helps get your first good crease, then it is easy to follow the lines if they need a touch up. Make sure you use de-mineralized water in your iron, that will help with the white stripes. Hope this helps, you are doing a great job, go super mom/wife!!!



answers from Dallas on

I no longer iron much; but, my mother taught me to iron as a young child and I learned from a master. To iron a cotton pair of pants: Steam & starch is best. Iron should be set on med-high -- not the "cotton" setting. That setting can scorch -- it's just too hot. (The post regarding quality of iron is correct. I, too, am picky about my irons and I have a Rowenta. But, the heavy-duty Sunbeam is an excellent iron for a good price.). Ok, back to the task -- first turn the pants inside out and iron the pockets flat. Then turn the pants right side out. Begin at the top of the pant. Put the waistband of the pant, down to the "seat" on the end of the ironing board. Begin pressing out the wrinkles from the top down. Continue around until you completed the circle. Then, remove the pants from the board. Match the inseam of the pants legs together. Put the pants length wise down the ironing board. Lift one leg back over the top of the pants out of the way. Press the inside of the pant leg. Turn the pants over and press the outside of the pant leg. Repeat with the other leg. You may need to touch-up the legs together with some types of cotton. Once you get the hang of it, it goes so fast you won't believe it. Oh yeah, about the white spots with starch. Spray the starch lightly and keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe away any white spots that might appear.




answers from Dallas on

You've received excellent suggestions. I avoid ironing the majority of the time, but I do know how to do it. For a SPEEDY alternative that gets the job mostly done, just be sure to pair up the seams and then go for it - no need to put the pants inside out. The biggest thing you MUST do is use distilled water in the iron. All those ugly streaks, etc. come from the water in the iron.



answers from Dallas on

I am no pro at ironing but my grandmother is-I always have problems too so I will share with you what she has shared with me. You shouldn't have to iron them inside out but the white marks are from the starch-do not hold the can close to the pants and don't let it dry completely, meaning only spray it as you go along. Also, with them being 100% cotton do not put the iron on high heat-go lower and it helps a ton. The last thing she told me about pants was to do the top first and then iron the legs and then iron them(legs) together-does that make sense? Sorry I couldn't be more help I HTH. P.S. I have just started line drying some clothes and it does make them stiffer-it may help, I don't know b/c I haven't ironed anything that I've line dried. I applaud your trying to do this.



answers from Dallas on

My husband wears the same thing and very rarely do I take them to the cleaners. I wash and dry mine and then fold them along the front creases- (then mine sit on the dryer for a few days before I get to them). I iron on steam and use spray starch. (I have never ironed them inside out) As for the white marks- what I do is spray one whole leg at a time then let it sit for about 30 seconds- to kind of absorb. I keep a washcloth handy and lightly run it over the starch and that is what prevents the white marks. Im not a pro but my husband never complains. I also am very picky about my iron. I dont like the new up to date plastic ones. I have an old style, heavy duty metal iron. Bought recently at Lowes for 29.99. It really does make a difference to have the right kind of iron. Let me know if you have any other questions- good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I'm not very good at ironing myself, but when I had an iron that cost $50, it was much easier. It was heavier and had a button you could press for steam, then the dog chewed the cord. Another thing I used to do to make it really easy is use downy wrinkle release instead of starch. It doesn't make the pants stiff, so if you like that you will want to stick with starch, but the wrinkle release makes the wrinkles iron out faster and won't leave the white marks. My problem with ironing is that I just want to do it fast, so these helped me accomplish that. Right now, we use the cleaners, or wear jeans!




answers from Dallas on

Hi J.. My hubby bought me one of those steamers from Bed Bath & Beyond (romantic, huh?). It is a Conair brand (way cheaper than the Tobi on TV). I love this thing!! Seriously, it is great. I keep it hung in my laundry room at all times. I wash my hubby's pants in Woolite (cold, delicate cycle) and then hang them dry. This, of course, leaves them nice and wrinkly so I have to steam them when they are dry. It is way easier and faster than ironing, and washing them in Woolite makes them less likely to fade or get worn out. Like your mom, my mom also put everything in the dryer. I started hanging most of my clothes to dry. They look newer longer. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

J., we are not laughing at you, but with you. I used to iron my husband's jeans but after we had our daughter, we were in such a small house, ironing in the living room I think, it freaked me out because the kid never really slept and I had this vision of the iron coming down on her even if I was uber careful to put it on the stove with the cord up. So the jeans started going to the cleaners.

I never learned to iron from being taught. My mother was a big believer in permanent press and we had very little that was 100% cotton growing up. My mother grew up on a farm so jeans were work clothes and ironing them totally foreign to her. I taught myself and never got very good at it.

My big contribution to the great advice you have gotten and the people I will call when I need ironing, lol, is to keep a spray bottle of water around the house. I am a big fan of getting the stuff out of the dryer immediately and I have a recliner that is rarely without at least a load of laundry smoothed out waiting to be hung or folded. But occasionally when the kids are involved with the laundry, the system fails. I also use this when I just want to shrink up the butt of my jeans. Spritz it and put it back in the dryer.

When they basically aren't wrinkled, all you really need to do is briefly run the iron over the pants to reinforce the crease. One of the ways to help you with the crease is to take them to the cleaners once or periodically to have a really good crease put in them. Then Helen Keller can pretty much keep up with it after that! Spray starch is also a fabulous thing.

And do follow the advice about cleaning your iron and make sure you always used distilled rather than tap water. And if the iron is really bad, I would chunk it and buy a new one, like $20 would be worth starting all over again and not letting it get gunky to begin with.



answers from Dallas on

1st suggstions- dry clean- lol
If you are getting marks- iron inside out and an old trick- pop them inthe freezer a bit before ironing - dont know what it does but my mother in law is an ironing freak and says it works
Everytime she visit I have clothes in the spare freezer-lol
And dont forget- spray starch and only distilled water in the iron



answers from Amarillo on

You shouldn't have to turn them inside out at all if you want a crease in them . Iron the top part seperate draped over the ironing board, and when doing the legs, lay one leg at a time flat on the ironing board and feel around and line up the inside and outside seams together and then iron out from each side and it should make a nice crease down the front of the pants, and make them look sharpe and crisp. As for wash and wear,I'd put in dryer, as I think they would wrinkle more on the line, unless you buy pants streachers, which i don't even know if you can get them anymore. I hang other stuff on the line, as I like the fresh air and save on electricity, but for the pants, I'd put them in the dryer, and I don't think that kind of material may need starch. good luck.



answers from Amarillo on

Hi J.,
I iron alot, so let me give you some tips.
1. If he really likes starch, buy the liquid starch and put it in with the rinse cycle. I also really like the dry starch, I cook it with water on the stove (follow the package directions) then put it in the rinse cycle with warm water. (Actually, most rinse cycles are now cold only, so I turn it to the wash cycle to fill, let it agitate with the starch, then let it spin out, stopping before the rinse cycle.) You can do really heavy starch, or fairly light starch. My local grocery ordered a full case for me -- about 20 boxes. They last me about 2 years.

2. Hang them until they are about half dry, then iron them dry. If you don't have time to iron them immediately, roll them up and put them in a plastic sack (like a Wal-Mart sack) and put them in the refrigerator until you have time to iron. I hate to admit this, but sometimes when I really get behind I have put them into the freezer, so the damp clothes won't sour in my refrigerator.

3. Setting the creases. If you can see a natural crease, then follow it. It will show if you try to change it. If not, match the leg seams and make a crease. You'll need to press one leg at a time, both top and bottom. Ask if he likes the creases to go clear up to his waist (mainly in the back) or if he wants them to end at his leg/hip joint.

4. Iron until the fabric is dry -- I like to get books on tape or CD and listen while I iron. It makes the time go faster. Our public library has great choices -- check out yours.

5. Hang the up and let them cool/dry/set overnight. Don't iron, then put on, they haven't cooled and set up yet. You'll be far happier with the product.

6. If you just cannot give up that spray starch, then spray the starch on, let it soak in a few minutes, then iron. Those white marks are dried spray starch. I have a few t-shirts that I spray starch, I spray them all, roll them up in a plastic sack, then iron them one at a time.

Best wishes, and pay attention to the brands that are easier to iron. Some kakhis are miserable to iron, some aren't so hard. I do iron some really tough ones inside out first, but be careful of setting creases inside out.

If you have any more questions, e-mail me at [email protected] wishes,

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