Don’t Press Me!: The Debate About Ironing

Don’t Press Me!: The Debate About Ironing, Continued

by Cate

Since the last time I posted about ironing, a few people have asked me for advice about how to iron their clothes using a 19th-century sadiron. I couldn’t tell if they were being sarcastic or not, but in case anyone is interested and doesn’t mind getting a few second-degree burns, here is a step-by-step guide. The whole process is actually easier than you think! (Though I’m assuming here that you think it is really, really, really hard.)

  1. Before you start heating up your sadiron, make sure it is clean and sanded. You’ll know it wasn’t clean enough if it catches on fire.
  1. Heat your sadiron on a bed of hot coals. Put out fires as necessary. D.J. insists that I put out fires “the Slow Laundry way,” which he says means dumping a bucket of sand on it. (I end up getting a lot of the sand on the floor, which is why ironing sort of reminds me of a day at the beach. A horrible, horrible day at the beach.)
  1. If your sadiron has a metal handle, you’ll need to use an oven mitt to pick it up. If your skin starts to blister, then you should consider using two oven mitts.
  1. The sadiron will need to be hot enough to get wrinkles out, but not so hot that it burns your clothes. You’ll get the hang of it eventually, and you will also burn a lot of clothes. On the plus side, this means there will be fewer clothes to iron.
  1. After a minute or two, your sadiron will cool off, so you have to put it back on the coals and wait for it to heat up. This is a good time to sweep up all of the clothes-ashes and sand you’ve spilled. I’ve found that a good way to make sweeping more fun is to have a glass of wine while you sweep.
  1. At this point, it is normal to start fantasizing about packing a suitcase of wrinkle-free clothes and moving to a new city, adopting a new name, and starting a new life away from the oppressive burdens of ironing.
  1. Oh no, while you were daydreaming your kitchen caught on fire! Don’t panic—this happens all the time. My kitchen is actually on fire as I type this! Ha ha. No, really–but it’s a pretty small fire.


    For Christmas I am hoping to get an iron with a wooden handle.


Don’t Press Me!: The Debate About Ironing

by Cate

Antique charcoal iron

Do you know why they call this is a “sadiron”? It’s because it was invented by Henry G. Sad.

Within the Slow Laundry movement, there is a lot of disagreement on the subject of ironing. Some people, like my husband D.J., think that ironing is an integral part of the seventeen-stage laundry process and should be done using traditional tools like “sadirons” or a well-trained musk-ox.

Other, smarter people believe that ironing is frivolous and that your time could be better spent…well actually, any way you spend time is better than ironing with a sadiron. Except maybe ironing with two sadirons.

This is actually a minor point of contention within our household. I mean, it’s not like D.J. and I are going to get divorced over it (ha ha!). But we have been attending weekly marriage-counseling sessions to help resolve the issue. (Incidentally, it is surprisingly difficult to find a marriage counselor who doesn’t say “just iron your clothes with a regular iron to avoid this fight altogether.” So the guy we’re seeing isn’t technically a marriage counselor so much as he is a butcher. Well, “charcutier,” actually. Sorry, Jerry.)

Personally, I believe that the only way to allow your clothing to fulfill its destiny is to let it be itself. If that means being wrinkled, then you should let it be wrinkled! And as it turns out, pretty much all clothing wants to be wrinkled.

Just to be clear, my position on ironing has nothing to do with the fact that this chore takes me fourteen hours a week and causes over 90% of our kitchen fires. I just want my clothing to achieve self-actualization.

Pressed shirt

You can tell this shirt hates itself.

D.J., on other hand, thinks my anti-ironing position is extremist—like those Slow Laundry Fundamentalists who don’t believe in doing laundry at all, and instead just wear their clothing out in the rain once in a while. He works in an office where people are expected to wear clothing that has been forced into an unnaturally crisp and flat state (although this doesn’t explain why he insists that I also iron his underwear, or why he will only wear socks that are made out of silk.

How has your household handled the age-old ironing debate? D.J. and I have managed to reach a compromise, in which I don’t iron his clothes, and he tries to stay in constant motion when people are looking at him.