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Dirty Secrets: How to Iron a Pleated Skirt


They look so good when you buy them: that apron dress or special pleated skirt with its nice neat pleats that swings as it moves.

Before you’ve got it home you are already swelling with pride at how smart your daughter is going to look. And she does. Until you wash it. That’s when the pleats crumple and the skirt could end up looking like she slept in it.

So what’s the solution to keeping those pleats perfect? Let us share our laundry tips on how to iron pleats with you.  

Getting Started: Tips for Ironing Pleats with Ease

It’s easiest to iron pleats using an ironing board where you can systematically move the garment full circle as you iron until you get back to where you started from.

Slip the pleated skirt or dress over the end of the board, with the board inside the garment, and let it lie as flat and smooth as possible. Check your garment’s care label and set the iron to the appropriate temperature for the fabric.  

Pin Your Pleats

The bad news is that you’re going to have to do this one pleat at a time for the best results. But it will be worth it, we promise. Holding the waistband or top of the garment firmly, pull the bottom of the first pleat until it is straight. Smooth it down then hold it in place with paperclips, a hair slide or bobby pins.

Metal pins are also ok to use if the fabric isn’t too delicate but avoid anything plastic or plastic coated as it could melt. And be careful not to iron over whatever you’re using to hold the pleat in place so you don’t damage it or your clothes.

Repeat until you have enough pleats in place to be just wider than the iron (probably about three-five). This method is much better than using your hand to hold the pleats because it can be hard to keep them in place and also you run the risk of burning yourself.  

How to Iron Pleats

Start at the top of the pleats and iron down towards the bottom, holding them down as you go (without getting the iron too close to your hand). Don’t accidentally iron any of the pleats you aren’t holding in place as you could either set them in an odd position or iron them out altogether. And resist the temptation to move the iron from side to side – that will move the pleats out of place.

Keep turning the skirt or dress round on the ironing board, systematically adding more pleats – and securing them with clips or pins – as you go. Once you get the hang of it, ironing pleats does get quicker. You might even get into a bit of a rhythm. Eventually you WILL make it all the way back round to the first pleat.  

Don’t Ruin All Your Hard Work

After ironing, hang the skirt or dress from the top to keep the pleats hanging straight and if possible try to give pleated clothes a bit of extra space in the wardrobe. It would be a shame for all that hard work to go to waste. And don’t forget to remove all the pins before your daughter wears her pleated skirt!  

A Few Extra Laundry Tips for Ironing Pleats

Some materials (such as viscose and wool) can start to shine a bit when ironed, especially with pleated clothes where you are ironing three layers of cloth at a time. It can cause irregular marks where the cloth is folded underneath. To avoid this, try not to press too hard with the iron.

You could also cover the area you are ironing with a thin damp cloth, or iron the garment inside out (though this is harder as you can’t properly see what you’re doing). If only part of the garment is pleated, iron the flat areas first and the pleats last so that you don’t mess the pleats up after you’ve ironed them.

Likewise, for a pleated skirt, iron the waistband before embarking on the pleats for the same reason. We know it sounds like a lot of work, but after you’ve ironed a new garment once, it gets quicker every time. And, more importantly, your daughter will look super smart each and every time she wears her perfectly pressed pleats.

You will feel very proud and wonder why you ever worried about how to iron a pleated skirt! For more expert laundry tips on taking care of your clothes, head to our washing tips and tricks section.  

What is your trick for a perfectly pleated skirt? Share your secrets on how to iron pleats in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.