Why I like to iron, but don’t do it.

I dress more for comfort than style, you might say. Unless you are my daughter, and then you might say that I never dress for style. But I maintain I do have a style, and it is called, comfort.

One of the things I like about my particular style, is that it requires little to no ironing. Wash, dry, fold or hang-up and my clothes are ready to wear. There are one or two exceptions for special occasions, like Christmas.

I wanted to wear a light-weight wool sweater today for the family party we are hosting. It is a rich cranberry color and mostly I save it for the holidays. I washed it, dried it flat, and it is not ready to wear. Iron on a warm setting, the tag informs me.

So I pull my rickety ironing board out of the closet, unwrap the iron’s cord from the handy shelf/bracket I installed in my closet five years ago expressly for that purpose, and plug my iron in.

My mother taught me how to iron.

In fact, when I was young, I loved to iron. My mom would save my father’s hankies, and all the pillowcases for me to iron. In those days she didn’t have a steam iron. She dampened the things that needed to be ironed, which I suspect were most things in those days before the miracle of permanent press happened.

Mom had a shaker bottle that she filled with water. She would lay the clothing or household article flat on the table or ironing board, and sprinkle it with water. Then she rolled it up and placed it on its end in the laundry basket to wait its turn. I can remember it as clear as if it happened yesterday.

I would unroll the damp pillowcases and go to work on them with the iron, transforming the wrinkled and damp to dry and smooth. I folded the pillowcases as I worked. I folded each one into thirds lengthwise, making a long narrow, neat column that I would fold in half and again into fourths, pressing each section as I went and ending with a nice neat little square that stacked perfectly in the linen closet.

I can’t remember the last time I ironed a pillowcase.

I liked doing my dad’s hankies even more. They were quick and sweet and made a nice little square when folded in half eight times.

I still have one of my dad’s hankies. I stuck it in my pocket when we cleaned out his room in the nursing home the night he died. I took it with me to the cemetery at his funeral where I dampened it with my own tears and pressed it between my fingers.

Maybe I’d still enjoy ironing pillowcases and hankies today if I took the time to do it.

17 thoughts on “Why I like to iron, but don’t do it.”

  1. ” But I maintain I do have a style, and it is called, comfort.”-I’m with you on that one! I find it interesting how certain mundane tasks provide such comfort. I feel that way when I do dishes by hand.

  2. I did all my ironing when in the Air Force, cotton fatigues and khakis. It’s funny you mention hankies. I remember my Mom ironing my Dad’s hankies …AND underwear. I always thought that was strange. She must have liked ironing too. ;o) She also had only a wringer washer, no drier, but sheets and clothes smelled SO good after being dried on the line. They were tough in those days. While we’re reliving earlier days. I remember being pulled around on a towel to buff the floors after application of Johnson paste wax. I could go on but won’t bore you more.

    1. Me either, mostly. Mark used to iron his shirts, but now he takes them to the cleaners. As long as I’m not involved, it’s all good. Have a peaceful holiday, William.

  3. I remember ironing hankies, too. My mom used a special brush, dipped in water, to sprinkle the clothes. Sometimes she would store the dampened clothes in an old refrigerator in the basement until she could get to the ironing. Merry Christmas, Christine.

    1. Now that you mention it, I had forgotten about the refrigerator part. I think my mom did that at times too. I love thinking about the way lifestyles have changed, although sometimes I find it a bit sad.

      1. Some parts are sad, especially when I think of all the conveniences we have now, and how hard life was for them.

    1. I’d hoped it might bring back memories for at least some. Merry Christmas to you too. I look forward to seeing what you do with your photography next year.

  4. Good post, Christine. My mom taught me to iron shirts too: collar, cuffs, sleeves, yoke, sides, back. I don’t iron much these days unless I’m making a quilt but I still love the comforting smell of a hot iron on cotton.


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