Ironing anything — shirts, ties, table linens, curtains — brings me so much satisfaction. Attacking the noxious wrinkles with a steam wand or heavy German steam iron stirs up a feeling of gratifying satisfaction and completes with a sense of primitive accomplishment that I feel like I can conquer the world.
For me, it’s in the same category as fastidious bed making and a delightful vacuum across the carpet. Everything I can’t control in the world suddenly subsides for a moment, and I can focus on the present task. And implementing the right tools is everything and only enhances the euphoria.
Tools of the Trade
Steam & Moisture
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A consistent and even flow of hot-as-heck steam is what you need to get started. The reason I love the Jiffy is the basic ergonomics of the hose and hand, and easy maintenance and slim profile. It also heats up in less than two minutes when you’re on the run.
It’s the go-to tool for steaming out just about every article of clothing you own. Beyond the obvious shirts, blouses, skirts, etc., I love to steam out the wool which tend to hold musty odors and lose their durability after a few wears. Break out the sweaters, overcoats and scarves. In 15 seconds you’ll be done.
My technique: grab the bottom of the garment, pull toward you and steam from the inside, starting far and pulling in. This way you can pull the fabric taut and keep the metal plat touching during the entire pass. You will burn yourself once or twice and never do it again. This is why I hold the very bottom.
Pocket squares, silk scarves and ties are so much fun, too, and usually can be done with the steam head attached in the resting position.
Heat & Starch
I must say, I rarely use the traditional iron anymore for clothing. However, sometimes shirts and collars need a stiff boost and that’s when we reach for the ironing board.
By the way, I orient the board backwards, flat side left (I’m right-handed). The pointed end, I find, is useless.
I don’t spray, iron, spray, iron, etc. I just spray the entire shirt and let it sit for a second while the starch absorbs. Then, I tackle the entire shirt slowly and deliberately until it feels like paper. It’s joyous.
Graduate beyond garments
Here’s a few more ways you can feed your need to grab that iron:
This problem happens within just a few hours of letting furniture sit atop a carpet. The ice cube approach gives me no satisfaction. My trick is to place a damp cloth over the dents, then run the steamer over it. After thirty seconds or so, the fibers will begin to release, using your fingers or very gently with a brush.
Wood Repair: Dents & Heat Stains
It’s just as easy to remove dents in wood floors or furniture using this technique. Wet the dent, and then place a dampened paper towel over it. Set the iron or steamer over it, making a circular motion over the dent for a couple of minutes, checking every so often to see if the dent has decreased. It should begin to slowly rise back. Remember that not all finishes react the same way to steam; be sure to test this method in an inconspicuous area first.
Wood heat stains work the same way. Place a tea towel down on the stain and circle the iron or steamer over the area. Lift off the tea towel and rub the table with a cloth quickly. The stains will vanish before your eyes.
Remove candle wax from textiles and carpets
If you’re a fan of candlelit dinners, then you’ve probably spilled a little hot wax onto your carpets or tablecloths a time or two. Luckily, an iron can provide an easy fix. First, let the wax dry completely, then scrape as much off as possible with a dull butter knife. Lay a paper towel over the wax area, and simply run an iron on low heat to gently coax the wax from the fabric and onto the paper towel.
Keep Whites Fresh and White
This one I had to look up. It seems if you sprinkle baby powder on your clothes before ironing — particularly the areas that tend to discolor like armpits — it will keep the fabric smelling fresh and prevent the sweat marks from forming. Sprinkle and iron!
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