For the Love of a Good Steam Iron

While it’s true that life is uncertain, there’s at least one thing of which I am very sure: I will never be held hostage for refusing to iron.

Unlike Mrs. Tyrrell whose son Robert, according to police, held her at gunpoint for six hours because she refused to iron his clothes (reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), I love to iron with a good steam iron. I’m not saying that I would be that thrilled to do it for a 29-year old son who refused to leave home, but I would do it.

35347873 - white collar shirt and iron on ironing board

 

I know that my love for ironing is a little odd. It’s just that I find the process to be soul soothing. It gives me instant gratification. I love the sound of a good surge of steam over an ample ironing board that is positioned in good, natural light. More than that, l love ironing for the fact that it helped me get out of debt. I’m not kidding.

Years ago when I came to terms with the fact that I have a serious shopping problem, I sat down one day to analyze it. I figured out that I just love the emotional sensation of buying stuff. And being able to get the feeling even though I didn’t have any money (buying stuff on credit made me feel like I had money) was a kind of emotional high that defied description. I loved the feeling and I wanted to repeat it as often as possible.

I’m no therapist, but I figured that if I could find something less damaging that would produce a feeling at least equal to my shopping rush—and was easily accessible on a moment’s notice—maybe I could use it to modify my behavior. I knew in a heartbeat what that action would be. Ironing.

Giving myself permission to iron whenever I got a sudden urge to respond to an infomercial or head for the mall (this was somewhat prior to the advent of online shopping) was like giving a kid the key to a candy store. And you wonder why I didn’t tell a soul about this for so many years? Because I feared they would think I’m nuts the way you’re thinking right now.

My secret plan worked. And better than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t realize how quickly my urge to spend would vanish once I could successfully distract myself.

Over the years my ironing has taken on a more serious tone. I have possibly the world’s finest home ironing system for which I make no apologies. It was pricey, granted. But compared to multiple sessions with a therapist, untold thousands in credit card debt or the heartbreak of divorce, my venerable and rather noisy IronMaven* has turned out to be quite a  bargain.

The fringe benefits are myriad. I have all but eliminated dry cleaning bills from my life. I realized that I can hand wash just about anything that would normally be dry cleaned. What I was paying for in the past was the professional press. I can do that myself now and I get to enjoy doing it, too. My husband’s clothes, even his jeans, are always freshly ironed. Guests in my home sleep on fine, ironed linens.

There are some who might believe I’ve just traded one obsession for another. Could be. But I’m happy with the results.

And I never fear being held hostage for lack of a good iron.

*While my old IronMaven is no longer available, in a recent column I responded to a reader asking for the best inexpensive steam iron out there. I responded with three options  here together with my brief reviews.

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5 replies
  1. Mary Proctor
    Mary Proctor says:

    And I love to iron too. But what about that ironing board? You cannot iron that ain t flat. Yus herd of “flat a board”?? Now I know on what side my bread is buttered and I opt for a Silex! A Proctor Silex iron! It’s the iron of choice in my household. But insure the board dont get warped! get a Proctor Silex and steam und Press!

    Reply
  2. donnafreedman
    donnafreedman says:

    My life partner *loves* to iron. He even uses starch! And here’s the best part: We have enough FREE starch to last us for a couple of years, probably, thanks to the “re-use store” at the city transfer station. People can leave partially used (or never-opened) household cleaning supplies and other chemicals they’d like to keep out of the landfill.

    We’ve also gotten free paint, solid-color stain, Miracle Gro, shoe polish, Comet cleanser, Febreze, shoe spray, English Oil (which our tables really need up here in super-dry southcentral Alaska) and all-natural fungicide (which came in handy when one of our greenhouse tomato plants showed signs of fungus). What a pleasant surprise not to have to buy those things! I highly recommend that people ask if these setups operate in their own cities.

    Reply
  3. lhlady517
    lhlady517 says:

    Do you have a recommendation for a dependable ironing board. I need something sturdy, yet easy to set up by myself.

    Reply
  4. Mary Johnston
    Mary Johnston says:

    Oh my, I am also an ironer! I love to iron, I learned to iron as a child. I ironed pillow cases, sheet, dresser scarves and my dad’s boxer shorts. As a teenager, I earned extra money by ironing for a neighbor. The hardest thing I ever ironed were the old Levis that were dried on the metal stretcher to keep retain their shape. That was before steam irons, when we used the coke bottle with the sprinkler cap. My daughters do not iron, but their husbands do, and it is not unusual to find them at my ironing station when they are at my house, they mostly iron as they go.
    I enjoyed your article. Do you do your own tablecloths? That is the only thing I don’t iron myself, they need to be ironed damp!

    Reply
  5. Pat
    Pat says:

    I love this article. Brings back so many memories. I grew up on base in Germany while my father was in the military. He retired over there so us kids of course stayed there with our folks. I worked for the military as a civilian and after I had my daughter I needed extra money and a place of my own. I worked for a military college and the dean had me ironing his shirts for extra money. he could have sent them to the dry cleaners like everybody else but he wanted to help me I think. He would leave them in his office and I would pick them up and take them home to iron and drop them off the next day on my way to my office. One morning he walked in on me crying in the break room, not sure if he knew or not because I never turned around to face him but he did send me flowers that day. Nobody knew they were from him so everybody was talking in the office wanting to know who would send me flowers. It did really make my day. The reason I was crying was cause I had car problems on the way to work (again) and the school mechanics just kept telling me that I couldn’t afford to have a car but they did fix it over and over again. LOL. Dean Ostertag was one specail man. When I was studying for my final in my office (this was before people had home computers) and typing up my reports my daughter was playing in the office and he would always have her come down to talk to him and they always talked about his huge fish tank. I think he has passed away but I have never forgotten his generosity over the years.

    Reply

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