Can I Teach You to Love Ironing?

learn to love ironing

Maybe I can; I surely hope I can . . . .

A lot depends upon where your heart is.

Ironing is an art.

I mean, we take the raw material and turn it into a sort of sculpture, don’t we? And it is most beautiful when the shirt is made right, in the first place, so the ironing chore is a joy for the one who irons: The plaids fall naturally into the pleats, the seams fold in the right direction, and the button placket is flat and cooperative.

In that way, ironing is like two artists who’ve worked together to send someone out into the world looking finely sculpted.

I’ll tell you, there is something about a man with a fresh haircut, who has groomed his face, and possesses the wealth of freshly ironed shirts to choose from in his closet, that makes him stand out, not only to his employer, but also to me.

I love giving that to my man. And that is the basis of my love for ironing.

The entire foundation for this love lies in the finished product.

  • I love looking at the shirts all lined up in the closet, ready to indulge in.
  • I love slipping into a smooth and lovely fresh-ironed shirt.
  • I love the way I look in the clothing that must be ironed.
  • I love feeling rich, as I do wearing an ironed shirt.
  • I love that my husband goes to work looking totally sharp every day.
  • I love knowing how to iron, and knowing not everyone does know how.

Ironing is probably very much an elitist, self-gratifying thing with me.

After all, I also love when building a tall lasagna that tastes magnificent because we grew the tomatoes, the onions, and even the eggs for making the pasta.

It’s a sort of self-satisfaction with the doing of it, I suppose. However, it also is totally a self-indulgence, quite a bit like rushing to be the first one to dig into the whipped cream carton…

Does that help?

How did I become so nutty?

It all began with my mother. I can remember watching her iron for hours on end, to make some spare cash for our family. It was something she could do and still be available for her children.

I remember she ironed for a woman who explained in an embarrassed way that she could not do ironing herself, due to arthritis in her hands, which were all gnarly with the devastation. This woman’s husband played an instrument in a dance band in the early 60’s. His white shirts had to be starched and ironed to a specific degree of perfection.

Watching that project taught me a lot about the right and wrong ways to perform with iron in hand.

I remember she also ironed for a woman who worked outside the home as a nurse. Think white uniform dresses, again totally starched and totally in need of perfection in ironing skills.

My mom was exceptionally skilled at the job, and loved knowing how, teaching me how, and devising new ways to improve.

(She tried re-inventing distilled water for her steam iron, by melting down frost from the refrigerator. Didn’t turn out too well, since the clothing then smelled like fish and bell peppers.)

Oh, it helps to know how.

One factor that adds to the pleasure is adding a bit of cooked starch to the last rinse water, and then hanging the shirts to dry.

After that, spritzing with water to iron makes the fabric stay glossy and in place, and makes the work last until you are ready to waste it on yourself.

As I said it is a self-indulgence thing.

And here is the boiled starch recipe: 1/2 cup corn starch stirred into 2 cups of water, then that mixture stirred into 2 quarts of boiling water. It thickens, some, as you stir, and becomes semi-transparent. Add this hot little mess to a half-washer-load of rinse water and then add all the clothing you want to starch, up to about six shirts or so. Agitate and spin on the gentle spin cycle, which leaves a bit more of the liquid in the fabric.

Hang this clothing indoors to dry.

That is the secret, and it is worth it, to me. This method keeps spray starch off the walls, floor, ironing board, iron, and everything else. It’s how we who really iron get that really good-looking shirt.

More about hanging clothing to dry, here.

Starching also adds to the longevity of any article of clothing, adding durability and protecting from body oils. It is truly worth every moment of the time it takes.

One small note before you reject every bit of this post: Try starching and ironing your favorite piece made of rayon.

You will be forever hooked.


Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

8 thoughts on “Can I Teach You to Love Ironing?

  1. I remember learning how to iron in home economics class. I also remember that when it was the fad to wear men’s shirts and I borrowed my brother’s dress shirts, the deal was that I would iron his shirts for him. I didn’t mind as the trade off was worth it to me.
    I have known two women in my life who absolutely adore ironing (like you!). I remember my next door neighbor ironing everything in her home. I thought she was nuts to iron her family’s blue jeans. I also have a dear friend in Canada who loves to iron.
    I’m afraid I take the lazy route and spray my husband’s dress clothes with Downy wrinkle releaser. (I love that stuff!) I will give you that it doesn’t come close to a crisp ironed shirt or slacks. When we lived in Peru, my maid did the ironing. πŸ˜‰

    1. Hi, Camie! πŸ˜‰
      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving this witty comment!
      I think you could say that the trade off is worth it to me, too. I iron my husband’s shirts in return for him looking decent all the time. I consider it a fair trade. Ha.
      I don’t adore ironing, though. It’s more like finding it very nourishing and pleasing to wear ironed clothing, and I don’t have a maid. However, it would put food on someone’s table if I did, wouldn’t it…
      (And until they started dropping heavy hints about it not being in style anymore, I also did iron my family’s jeans. Heehee. But I assure you I am completely sane. πŸ˜€ )
      If they make the Downy stuff in unscented, I would be willing to give it a try.

  2. Love this post. I can’t say that I would love ironing like this again, but it sure brought back memories of my mom and grandmother. Ah, the days when everything from the shirts to the tablecloths were freshly laundered and pressed.

    1. Yay! I totally get that! So glad you commented, as I was beginning to feel a bit crazy, myself, not to mention we recently switched to long-sleeved shirts, so I am somewhat behind! :\

      However! I do love how it warms up that end of the house on a chilly morning!

      To me, it’s as therapeutic as mowing. Love mowing. πŸ™‚

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