When I was growing up, we had an ironing pile. Once my mother went back to school and became a nurse, ironing was relegated to an as needed chore. We had a small loveseat in the kitchen next to the coat closet. The closet also housed the ironing board. The loveseat held the ironing pile. If I wanted to wear an item located in the ironing pile, I would have to find it, then iron it. I really appreciated the invention of permanent press clothes. I also learned that hanging or folding the clothes right away minimized the ironing.
People have differing opinions about ironing. I have heard of people who still iron their sheets. I don’t think I know anyone personally who irons sheets. While many people love the feel of freshly pressed clothing, most people do not put ironing as one of their top priorities. People who don’t want to iron can delegate pressing shirts to the cleaners.
My friend Cherie earned money in high school by taking in ironing. My friend Janet adjusted the ironing board so that she could iron while sitting. Her mom thought ironing while sitting was cheating although Janet did get points for creativity.
As a young married woman, I was astounded when my sweet frugal mother-in-law confessed that in the early 70s, she had donated her entire ironing pile to charity when they were moving to a new army post. At that time, I thought only about the expense of replacing the clothes. Now as a mom with four children of my own, I totally agree with her logic. Anything that was loved had probably been pulled from the pile and ironed. The stuff in the pile had been there long enough that most of the clothing was probably too small by the time of the move. I don’t have an ironing pile, but my clean laundry pile is nearly to the point where I seriously consider donating all the clean clothes that haven’t made it to someone’s dresser.
My biggest ironing embarrassment happened a few years ago. Most of my clothing doesn’t require ironing. I do have a couple of silk shirts that look better when ironed. So if I wanted to wear one of these beautiful shirts, I would haul out the ironing board (or declutter it if it was already standing), plug in the iron that I had used since my college days, set the iron to silk, and proceed to run the iron over the fabric. This had been going on for weeks? months? years? when I began to notice that the shirts didn’t look that much better when they were ironed, but I didn’t suspect anything wrong. Some time later I was sewing something. Of course, pressing the seams makes the finished garment look so much better. So I hauled out the ironing board, plugged in the iron, set it for cotton, and waited for it to get hot. And waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. That iron never got hot! How long had I been ironing my silk shirts with a dead iron?
What can you learn from my experience? Don’t expect the iron you use during college to be working 25-30 years later. If you use an iron mostly for ironing silks, you should periodically turn up the heat to see if the iron is actually working. And if your silk shirts still look a little wrinkly, your iron might be dead.