Ironing clothes is a thing of the past

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ironing clothes, iron with shirt on ironing board

Apparently, millennials are not buying irons. This means they are either wearing their clothes as is or their parents are ironing clothes for them.

I have nothing against millennials. I delivered three of them. And I taught each and every one of them how to handle an iron, especially my son.

A lost skill?

When he was a teen, my son decided to join the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary organization of the U.S. Air Force. On Tuesday afternoons, he would bring me his uniform shirt and pants and ask me to iron them. Then he stood across from the ironing board, watching every swipe of the iron before holding the article of clothing up to the light and studying it.

“This here,” he said once, pointing to the crease in the pants, “has to be sharp. I’ll lose points if it isn’t perfect.”

So I placed the pants back onto the ironing board and said, “Okay, I’ll just line up the seams like this. See? Then when I press the iron like this, the crease will be perfect. A little spritz of water will help. See how I do this?”

“Yep,” he said.

“Good. Because next week, you are doing this yourself.”

And he did. Every week after that, I would hear the screeching of the iron board as he set it up in the kitchen. He took tremendous pride in his uniform, and I was immensely proud of him.

The nostalgia of ironing clothes

I have no idea if my kids still iron their clothes. Maybe, like other millennials, they spray them with Febreze and blow them with a hair dryer, or they simply toss their clothes into the dryer to fluff the wrinkles out. I confess I use the dryer to iron clothes from time to time.

When I was a child, the iron was a permanent fixture of furniture. I watched my mother ironing clothes in front of daytime TV, and Dad ironed on Sundays because he was never satisfied with the way Mom creased his pants. In fact, it was Dad who taught me how to line up the seams to make the crease straight. As a young teacher, I spent Sunday evenings ironing my clothes for school, five crisp outfits ready to go throughout the week.

Pumping iron . . . or not

There is something satisfying about ironing clothes. You pull them from the basket looking rumpled and forgotten, and you press the hot iron here, a little firmer there, a little longer here until the fabric is smooth and crisp. It is not a job you can rush. But it is obsolete these days, and probably with good reason.

Better alternatives have emerged, such as fabric that doesn’t wrinkle and wrinkle-releasing sprays. The young and resourceful generation has simply made it fashionable to wear clothing wrinkled. So irons are no longer useful, even as wedding gifts. Like newspapers, plastic straws, cable TV and photo albums, irons are becoming one of those things that we never imagined living without but that will soon slip from our memories.

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