I can’t say I like ironing but it’s something I do. I usually find something to watch on TV something which doesn’t require too much concentration and I work my way through the ironing pile, until all is done.

I’ve noticed that different people iron in different ways – I had a boss whose husband insisted he ironed his own shirts and yet I know she was a very practical, organised, meticulous person, a careful person and her own clothes were always immaculate so I imagine she was a practical, organised, meticulous, careful and immaculate ironer.

My iron is just an ordinary one, it has a steam facility but I never use it – fabrics these days are much easier to iron. When I first started ironing properly (I did do it to help mum when I was at home, but only sheets, pillowslips, tea-towels and hankies) the iron was a heavy thing and for some of the clothes, like trousers, I’d use a damp cloth over them to get the right creases and to prevent the material becoming shiny. At that time we used a launderette; one of us would do the washing, the other would do the ironing – and swap the following week.

I notice when I visit friends, they iron differently from me; with shirts lots of people iron the sleeves first, then the collar then the body of the shirt; I do body, collar, sleeves. Some friends iron most of their clothes inside out – well I do for some things, but mainly I iron the ‘right’ side. Some people iron all their bedding, some iron none – I iron duvet covers and pillowslips but not bottom sheets. People think I’m strange for ironing undies – there is a reason for that, they fit in the drawers better! People think I’m very strange for ironing tea-towels; my dad told me to do that – he claimed ironed tea-towels dried better than un-ironed ones… and I think it’s true!

Ironing clothes has been a chore for a long time, centuries – and probable first started in China. There were all sorts of different things used to smooth and flatten clothes, made from stone, wood, glass even as well as iron.The first electric iron was patented in 1882 in the USA. Here’s an interesting article about smoothers, mangles and irons:

As someone once said to Michael Parkinson “Irony, Parky, irony!”

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