In Defense of Ironing

I learned to sew when I was 14 years old. I learned to iron when I was about 8. I learned to hate ironing five minutes after that. I will pull wet things out of the dryer and smooth them out as much as possible before I hang them up to dry, just to avoid ironing. I tell myself that no one will notice, and they probably don’t. But no longer. If you want nice things, you have to iron.

A year ago, I bought some cotton beverage napkins on sale. The colors were lovely, and cloth bev naps just said “luxury” to me. During Christmas, I put them out with the appetizers. Then I washed them. They came clean, even though they were used to dab up artichoke dip. They are cotton, so I hung them up to dry. (Otherwise they would end up as cloth coasters.) I folded them and started to put them away. They looked like this.

Not nice. Messy. Careless. Thoughtless. And I didn’t want to use them like that.

I work hard. You work hard. We deserve nice things, and we deserve to use nice things. The good china with mac ‘n cheese, Champagne or Prosecco in a nice flute on a Thursday evening, and a crisp cloth beverage napkin with a snack. So I ironed it. The results ….

Wrinkled vs. Ironed

It wasn’t enough – that’s not how they came out of the package. They were crisp and flat when they were brand new. The ironed napkin looks good, but a wine glass would still wobble precariously. So I pulled out the spray starch. Oh, yes, I did. I hated the results ….

Ironed vs. Starched

It looks crisp, flat, high-class. Damn.

But I’m worth it. The effort to keep things nice and looking gorgeous is worth it, because we are all worth it. So I will iron, and so should you.




  1. Pretty napkins, Marty. I can see why you’d want to iron them.

    I pulled my iron out to use on a boy’s shirt for prom last spring. “Wow Mom. Do you know even know how to use that?” he asked.

    For a second I thought he was being a smart mouth and I was all prepared with an irritable retort. Then I realized that for most of his life, they’ve worn knit polo shirts and sweaters, etc for semi-dress up occasions. I’ve ironed their dad’s shirts for job interviews and funerals, but, otherwise, he prefers flannel, sweaters, and so forth.

  2. I think Gregs mom passed an iron down to me for my sewing, but I have yet to use it because it looks like its from the 50’s and I dont have an ironing board. One of these days I will take your advice because that napkin looks really damn good!

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