Chinos are predominantly used for more casual settings and occasions. As such, wrinkles aren’t often as big of a deal when compared with dress pants, for instance. However, knowing how to iron chinos is still crucial for looking sharp at all times.
Regular chinos should generally be ironed without a crease as they often don’t come designed with creases. However, the more “formal” pairs of chinos do sometimes come with creases, and ironing can be used to accentuate these. Being made from cotton twill, they can usually tolerate higher temperatures than wool pants.
What you’re going to learn in this article is exactly how to do it. First we’ll talk through how to do it without a crease (the most common), and then how to do it with creases.
Although you should generally avoid ironing a crease into a pair of chinos that doesn’t already come with one, there are men who do prefer this look. That’s why it’s still worth discussing here.
Either way, as you’ll soon find, it isn’t rocket science.
I’ll finish off by talking through some frequently asked questions on the topic to really hone in.
Let’s get to it.
How To Iron Chinos Without A Crease In 5 Steps
Here’s what you’ll need:
- An iron
- An ironing board
- Distilled water
Here’s what you don’t need – A tailor’s ham, a sleeveboard, a pressing cloth.
Remember, it’s best not to overcomplicate things when it comes to chinos. Let’s talk through how to do it in the most effective, yet simplest way possible.
1. Prepare The Iron
A clean iron is important prior to starting, particularly when ironing light and easily-stained chino pants.
To test out your device, iron over a white rag and see if it leaves any marks or stains.
If you feel as though your iron needs a clean, fill it with a mixture of distilled water and vinegar and simply steam it through. This will remove dirt from the soleplate (the surface that comes into contact with the pants).
Once you’re satisfied you’ve got a clean iron, it’s time to prep it for the task at hand.
You’ll want to make sure it’s filled with distilled water. Using non-distilled water will lead to limescale build-up which actually gets deposited onto your clothes as you iron.
Although it’s pretty old-fashioned, you may have a dry iron as opposed to a steam iron. In which case, have a spray bottle of distilled water ready for when you start ironing.
Finally, set the heat setting of your iron. As I mentioned, cotton can tolerate higher temperatures than wool. If your chinos are 100% cotton twill, they’ll be absolutely fine with this.
However, if you’ve got a cotton-synthetic blend, you’ll want to start a little lower and work your way up if necessary.
Check the care label of your pants to check if it has specific heat instructions.
2. Ensure Your Chinos Are Clean
Clean chinos are crucial when you iron. The heat will reinforce any stains. In light-colored chinos, this can be a nightmare.
The cotton is durable enough to tolerate a machine wash and potentially even a tumble dry. However, hanging them to dry is generally better practice.
Ironing chinos when a little damp also leads to better results, as the moisture helps to iron out difficult wrinkles.
3. Iron The Pocket Linings First
This may seem over the top, but it takes barely any time at all and is worth doing. Wrinkled pocket linings can scrunch up and leave an impression through your pants.
Although this is more of an issue with wool slacks, they can still show through with lightweight and closer-fitting chinos.
So, pull out the pocket linings from the inside (front and back) and iron them. Once you’ve done that, simply push them back in.
4. Iron The Top Of The Chinos
This refers to the waist and the rise of the pants. Basically, the areas above the legs.
Pull the chino pants over the narrower edge of the ironing board so that it lays much flatter and more evenly. This will keep the surface in place and allow you to iron freely.
Pull out the pocket linings so that you don’t create unnecessary creases in them while ironing.
Start ironing the top of the pants.
Cotton pants like chinos aren’t as sensitive as wool pants. For lighter colored chinos, you can simply slide the iron back and forth (push and slide) freely.
However, with darker colored chinos, you’ll want to make small movements or even simply press down and lift or else you risk leaving a sheen.
Press the front of the pants, being careful around pleats (although these would be rare in chinos).
Shift your attention to the seat (back) of the chinos and repeat. Remember, pull out the back pocket linings before doing this.
Spray distilled water over areas with difficult creases.
When ironing the waistband itself, be extra careful around any buttons and belt loops. Use the tip of the iron to handle these narrow areas.
Flip the chinos over (still pulled over the ironing board) and do the same on the other side.
5. Iron Each Leg Individually
Ironing the chino legs without a crease is pretty straightforward. When ironing flat front chinos you don’t need to worry about aligning the seams to press the crease in the correct position.
Simply place each chino leg flat on the ironing board individually and start ironing.
Keep the inner and outer seams of each leg on the edges to prevent unnecessary crease formation.
Remember, small motions or press and lift for darker colored chinos. If you’ve got lighter colored chinos, it’s for you to push and slide, back and forth.
ProTip: You don’t need to iron both sides of the same leg. Ironing one side should be enough.
How To Iron A Crease Into Chinos
When ironing creases into chinos, you’ll need to make sure the creases are symmetrical between legs and are centered correctly in the front and back.
As I mentioned earlier, there shouldn’t generally be any need to iron a crease into chinos that didn’t originally come with creases. This doesn’t usually look very natural.
If they did come with creases, ironing is a good way to accentuate them or get them back. Cotton isn’t as good as wool when it comes to preserving and maintaining creases.
Having said that, the method you’re about to learn will also work if you’re looking to actually iron a crease into chinos that didn’t originally come with them.
1. Prepare And Iron The Top Of The Chinos
To cut a long story short, simply follow steps 1 to 4 of the tutorial above. These steps are exactly the same regardless of whether you’re looking to get those creases in or not.
The difference comes in when it’s time to work the legs.
2. Align The Creases And Iron Them In
As you did before, you’ll be working on one leg at a time.
The more layers you try to iron simultaneously, the worse the result. This is the case no matter what item of clothing you’re ironing.
Fold one leg over the other and place them flat on the ironing board. Then, flip the leg you’re not working on over the end of the board.
The most crucial step here is to align the seams of the chino leg exactly in the middle before you iron.
If your chinos already have creases that you’re looking to accentuate, keeping these creases on the edges is a good way to make sure the positioning is correct.
Once you’re happy, start ironing the edges being sure to keep them nice and crisp. What you’re ironing here are the creases.
Although some men do prefer to iron the bottom, the top, and then the middle of the creases, I generally find this to be a waste of time.
Simply iron from the bottom to the top. Use small movements or the press-and-lift technique for darker colored chinos, or simply push-and-slide if you’ve got lighter-colored chinos.
You don’t want the creases to be sharp all the way to the waistband. It’s usually best to stop ironing the creases at around the point where you reach your pockets.
If you’re being extra fancy, you could use a clapper to really fix those creases nice and sharp. Here’s one you can check out on Amazon.
3. Iron The Centre Of The Leg
Once you’re happy you’ve got nice, crisp creases, iron out the centre of the leg using the same motion you feel is most appropriate for your chinos.
Use this opportunity to iron out any wrinkles you see to really get a great finish.
Once you’ve done this, repeat the exact same process with the other leg.
What you should be left with are two well-centred and symmetrical creases on each leg of your chinos.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions I wanted to answer to give you as complete of an understanding as possible.
Should You Iron Chinos Or Not?
You should iron chinos if they’re being worn for semi-casual or business casual purposes. Although chinos aren’t generally as wrinkle prone as wool slacks, ironing them will generally lead to a noticeably neater finish.
Having said that, they are also often worn for purely casual purposes.
In these cases, lightly straightening them out and hanging them to dry immediately after a machine wash should prevent significant crease formation. For casual purposes, this is often good enough.
To sum that up, for semi-casual or business casual settings and occasions, iron your chinos. For truly casual settings, it isn’t entirely necessary.
Should You Iron Chinos Inside Out?
It isn’t usually necessary to iron chinos inside out. This is because the cotton twill is more resilient than wool and is able to tolerate higher temperatures without getting damaged.
With wool slacks, consistently high temperatures can disintegrate the wool molecules themselves. This leads to a discolored appearance and an awful-looking sheen.
Fortunately, the cotton of chino cloth is less prone to this effect.
If you wanted to be extra careful, however, turning them inside out would give you some additional protection.
An alternative would be using a pressing cloth to act as a barrier between the soleplate of the iron and the chino cloth.
But again, this is more useful and necessary for wool slacks than for chinos.
Chinos are more straightforward and don’t require as much focus and delicate care when maintaining them. Look after them, but don’t obsess over the small stuff.
Can You Get Non-Iron Chinos?
You can indeed get non-iron chinos and it’s a great option for men who genuinely hate ironing or are simply short for time.
Let’s face it – it isn’t the most stimulating or interesting task in the world.
Interestingly, cotton-synthetic blends are naturally more wrinkle resistant than pure cotton because they don’t absorb water as well. That’s why almost all non-iron chinos are made from synthetic blends.
Non-iron chinos receive a treatment where the cloth is chemically saturated, resulting in the cotton fibers bonding closer to each other. This makes them much more resistant to wrinkles.
The process isn’t the most environmentally-friendly, which is why they get a pretty mixed reception, overall.
However, the fact of the matter is that they’re convenient and very popular.
Here’s a pair of non-iron chinos you can check out on Amazon. As you’ll see, they’re made from cotton and polyester blend.
Buying clothes is one thing, and knowing how to care for and maintain them is another. Ironing may not seem complicated, but knowing how to do so effectively and safely is a crucial aspect of men’s fashion.
A well-ironed pair of chinos can look fantastic, particularly when paired with semi-casual or business casual ensembles where you kind of want to impress.
Be aware that some chino pants were meant to have a crease, whereas with others, it really wasn’t meant to be. Following the advice in this article should help you decide.
Be patient with it but don’t overcomplicate it. Enjoy.