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Best Inexpensive Steam Iron (Or Please, Can’t Someone Make a Decent Steam Iron?!)

I just asked Siri*, “How do most people relax?” She rattled off a list of activities including, “nosh on chocolate,” “rub your feet over a golf ball,” “count backward,” “meditate” and “drip cold water on your wrists.”

Siri completely missed my favorite way to relax. I iron (not to be confused with I pump iron, which I do not).

No really. There’s something soothing and instantly gratifying about a good steam iron with a heft of heat and steam gliding back and forth over wrinkled fabric.

steam iron on ironing board unironed shirt

That’s why I was excited to get another request, this time from Marianne, “I need a new iron. I’ve searched the Internet trying to find the best steam iron for the best price and all I get is terribly confused! Any suggestions?”

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How to Clean Steam Irons and Granite Countertops—Cheap and Easy!

These days its nearly certain that there’s a pricey product available to clean just about anything. But why spend the money when you can make your own homemade products that perform just as well from ingredients you may have already in your cupboards and pantry? I’m talking cheaper, faster and quite possibly better!

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What is the best and most effective way to clean a steam iron?

You need to clean both the inside and the sole plate of a steam iron regularly to keep it in tip-top condition. Before you proceed with my cleaning suggestions, make sure you read the owner manual that came with your iron to make sure there are no instructions or cautions that might preclude the following.

INSIDE: To remove build-up from the inside of the iron, which over time can really clog things up, pour equal amounts of white vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber up to the maximum fill line. Turn the iron on to “steam” setting and iron a soft clean cloth to clean out the steam ports. 

Depending on how clogged up the iron is, it make take several attempts for the steam to bust through. It’s the vinegar that will break down all of that hard-water scale and buildup inside the iron. Read more

How to Remove Icky Sticky Stuff, Home Chef Feedback, and Best Inexpensive™ Steam Iron

I harbor a little-known secret. I only know a lot of the stuff I know because I’ve learned it from my kind and sharing readers. And the longer I do this thing I do, the more I learn.

The wealth of knowledge I have gained from you in nearly three decades of this relationship is awesome. And every day, it seems, I learn something new.

Dear Mary: I highly recommend De-Solv-It. It is a citrus oil-based degreaser and sticker remover that I have used over the past several years. It is non-toxic. Here is a recent example, I purchased a used softcover library book at Half Price Books (a wonderful chain, by the way) which had tape covering the spine and on the cover. I put a small amount on the edges of the tape and allowed it to seep in overnight. The next morning I was able to peel it over pretty easily with no discernible damage to the cover. Thank you for all of the good advice over the years. Ted

Dear Ted: I raced to get me a small spray bottle of De-Solv-It to test before mentioning this find to my dear readers. Wow! You are right about how well De-Solv-It works to remove all kinds of icky sticky stuff (not that I have a houseful of icky stuff needing removal or anything, ha!) I should have opted for the better-value 12-oz. size De-Solv-It from the get-go. This is exactly the kind of product I need in my arsenal of home rescue products. Thanks for this great recommendation.

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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.

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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.