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How to Fold a Dress Shirt: A Step By Step Guide

Whether you are folding a button up dress shirt for yourself or your spouse, there is a right and wrong way to fold and store your shirts. To keep your shirts wrinkle free, you should take the time to learn how to fold a dress shirt.

There are a few different ways that you can learn to fold a shirt for no wrinkles to occur. However, sometimes wrinkles will happen so we will go over some tips and tricks to help fight wrinkles when you are on a time crunch.

Why Should you Fold your Dress Shirts

To fold or to hang, that is the question. Is there really a best way to put up your dress shirts? The answer is simply no.

Hanging up your shirts is a good option to keep wrinkles and creases away. While hanging up is the ideal way to put away your dress shirts, sometimes space and circumstances don’t always allow it.

Folding is just as good of an option for keeping your shirts stored and in good condition. If you take care of your shirts by ironing them before, then folding is just as good.

You may also need to fold your dress shirts if you are packing to go away on a trip. We have a separate article on this topic, and its important to read this if you’ll be packing up your clothes on your next trip.

No matter the circumstances, sometimes dress shirts will have to be folded. If you know the proper way to fold them, then you can help keep wrinkles at bay.

dry clean clothes before ironing

How to Fold a Dress Shirt

There are a few different methods you can use when it comes to learning how to fold a dress shirt. While learning about these methods, take time to figure out which one will work best for you.

There is no difference between learning how to fold a man’s dress shirt and a woman’s dress shirt. You can use the same methods on both, the only difference between the two is fit and size, neither will disrupt the folding techniques.

You may prefer to fold your shirts and put them away at home – try out both the folding and rolling technique and see which one works best for your shirtsl. Some folds may cause less wrinkles and creases to occur than others.

1. Prepare for Folding

Before you fold your shirts, you will most likely wash them. For best results, wash and dry your dress shirts according to the instructions on the tag.

You can dry clean your shirts, however this is harder on dress shirts long term and doesn’t really get them clean. It is not as effective at cleaning sweat stains, especially underarms.

If you want to starch your shirts, then this will help them retain their crispness after folding. The best way to starch your shirts is by dipping them completely in a liquid starch solution. After starching, wring out your shirts and hand them up to dry.

Next you will want to iron your shirt while it is still damp. If your shirt dries before you can iron it, then mist it with water to re-dampen it before you iron.

You do not have to starch your shirts before you fold, but it is a really good idea to at least iron them first. This will help fend off any wrinkles while your shirts are folded and kept in the drawer.

While ironing will not guarantee a wrinkle free shirt, it will can make folding easier. When your shirt is flat and without wrinkles, then you can make the folds more precise.

While it is tempting to work quickly to get the folding task over with, instead take your time. When you go a little slower, you will be more thorough in your work and it will help keep the creases clean. The same goes for folding your short sleeved shirts at home.

2. Find a Flat Surface

Make sure that you have a clean flat surface to work on. A laundry room table or wiped off kitchen table will do. It is important to have a large surface to work on so that you can lay the shirt out and straighten it.

If you are lacking a large table to use, you can use the floor. Lay down a blanket or towel to fold on, then sit on your knees so that you are able to move and maneuver as needed to fold.

When you are ready to start folding, no matter which method you choose, button up your shirt and lay it face down. The best way when you are learning how to neatly fold a shirt is to lay it straight and make sure there are no wrinkles or bunching.

Also stretch out the arms, this way you can ensure they are without wrinkles and are laying straight.

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3. Folding your Dress Shirt

This simple fold is the most universal one that is used. It ensures the least amount of creases in the body of the shirt and sleeves, while keeping the shirt protected from wrinkles.

how to fold a dress shirt
  1. One at a time, you will fold in the sleeves along with about an inch of the shirt. It is important to fold sleeves then dress shirt, so that the sleeves are tucked in and protected from being loose and at risk for wrinkles.
  2. Take the first sleeve and pull it straight across, keeping in line with the other sleeve. This fold may resemble an arm being laid across the shoulder of a friend.
  3. Smooth down the folded edge, making sure to follow the folded edge down to the bottom of the shirt. This will help you make sure that the fold is not crooked, so that you can adjust it if need be.
  4. Then take that same sleeve and bring it up into the air. This will give you the best angle for folding the sleeve down along the body of the shirt. Bring the sleeve down and run it against the folded line on the outside that you just made, just like you would a long sleeved shirt. Make sure that you keep the sleeve inside of the shirt, not letting it veer outside because this will allow possible wrinkles or odd folds on your sleeve.
  5. The sleeve will have a diagonal fold in the top corner. It is important to keep an even alignment when you learn how to fold a dress shirt sleeves.
  6. Repeat this step with the second sleeve. Make sure that you don’t fold too fast, you want to keep the shirt straight at all times and make sure the fold lines are crisp.
  7. Finally take the bottom of the shirt and fold it up to the tip of the collar. Keep a grip on the sleeves so they do not slide out.
  8. If you need to pack for a smaller space then you can add one more fold in the shirt by folding the torso in half again. This will shorten the length of the folded shirt for smaller drawers or for a suitcase.
  9. Once folded, turn your shirt over and you are done. Take a moment to look over the shirt to make sure everything looks straight and that nothing is awkward or sticking out.

4. Rolling your Dress Shirt

The second method is learning how to roll a dress shirt. This can be effective in fighting off wrinkles, if you do it correctly. It also makes your shirts much easier to pack in a small drawer or overnight bag.

how to roll shirts
  1. With your shirt buttoned and laying face down, take one sleeve and fold it over to the other sleeve. This is meant to fold your shirt in half, so make sure that you pull over the chest and torso areas.
  2. Once you complete the fold, take a moment to smooth down the creases with your hand to make sure they are even.
  3. Next you will take the two sleeves together and bring them back across the shirt and then at a 90 degree angel down. The sleeves should be even with the length of the shirt. Make adjustments as needed to keep the sleeve in a straight line with the shirt’s torso fold.
  4. Finally, starting at the bottom of the shirt, begin to roll it upward. Do this as you would a towel or a ​washcloth. Keep your rolling even and tight. If the roll begins to favor one side too much then pull it back and roll again. You will want to keep it centered to avoid any wrinkles occurring.
  5. Once it is rolled, pack it in your suitcase. Don’t add any rubber bands or objects to keep it together, as this can cause extra wrinkling where it is secured around the fabric. Other packed clothes will keep your shirt from unrolling.

The folds above are written out for those who need to know how to fold a long sleeve dress shirt. If you are folding a short sleeve dress shirt, then you can follow the same steps, however the sleeves will just be folded in once.

When you fold in the sleeves of a short sleeved dress shirt, fold each sleeve in. Remember to pull in about an inch of the torso with the fold. Then following the same technique, fold in the second sleeve. Finish by folding the torso in half and turning the shirt over.

How to Fight Off Wrinkles if they do Happen

At the end of the day, no matter how well you iron, starch, fold or hang your clothes to steam, wrinkles will happen. Try to give yourself extra time when you are getting ready incase you pull out your shirt and find wrinkles.

You may not always have time to pull out and heat up the iron when you are rushing to work, or you may not currently own a iron. Here are some tips to help you fight off unexpected wrinkles when they occur.

  1. If you are short on time, you can use the steam from your morning shower to help loosen the wrinkles.
  2. Toss your shirt in the hot dryer for a few minutes. This will warm up your shirt and shake out wrinkles. You can also add a few damp dryer sheets to boost the wrinkle releasing power. This will have the same effect on it as a garment steamer or an iron for taking out those lines.
  3. There are also wrinkle removing sprays that you can purchase at the store such as Downy Wrinkle Releaser. This all in one spray removes wrinkles, static and odors. It is safe on clothes, curtains, tablecloths and sheets.
  4. You can use a pot from the kitchen, make sure the bottom is clean and boil water on the stove for a few moments. When you are ready, toss out the water and use the bottom of the pot to run over your clothes and get rid of wrinkles.
  5. If you have a few small wrinkles on your hems, sleeves or collar then use a hair flat iron. Just make sure you wipe it off before use to make sure there is no hari product residue on the plates. While a flat iron is perfect for small touchups, it is not recommended to use it for all over ironing.
  6. Finally you can use vinegar to beat wrinkles on your dress shirts. Simply hang up your dress shirt, mist it with one part white vinegar to three parts water. Then let it air dry. Use only white vinegar on your clothes to ensure no discoloring or possible staining. Vinegar is also a very gentle product for your clothes and is a great addition to your laundry room.
  7. If you are traveling then most hotels will have an iron and board available for you to use. You can also be proactive and pack a small travel spray bottle or a travel garment steamer. When you arrive at your hotel, hang your shirts up. If any have wrinkles, then spritz them with water. Most non severe wrinkles will straighten out with this quick trick.

While wrinkles are a frustration to deal with, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there are easy solutions to help you overcome wrinkles on your dress shirt. 

Be Proactive

Learning how to properly fold a dress shirt is something that everyone should know how to do. Being able to fold dress shirts can transfer over into knowing how to fold other shirts, blouses and even dresses. This will help you cut down wrinkles in your daily wardrobe and will also save you on closet space.