COVID-19

No ironing required

I did something on Saturday that I did often before COVID-19, but haven’t done at all since: I ironed my shirts.

I haven’t found a shirt for sale in the US in 20 years that didn’t swear its fabric requires no ironing. Yet they all look at least slightly rumpled fresh from the dryer. I prefer to look crisp. So I iron.

I sort of enjoy ironing, for much the same reason I sort of enjoy washing dishes. There’s a quiet meditativeness to these simple, menial tasks.

When I’m out in the world, when I spend my days in the office, I like to look good. I dress a little nicer than the situation requires. I take care in choosing my clothes, and I take good care of the clothes I choose.

I’ve felt differently about it while I’ve worked from home. In my videoconference meetings, people see me only from about the chest up. When I’m not in meetings, the only people who see me are my family on their way to the kitchen. I don’t see the point in wearing clothes I’ll have to iron.

All summer I wore untucked polos and shorts. Now that it’s getting cold, I’ve been buying rugby shirts and crewneck sweaters to wear with jeans.

However, about ten shirts still needed to be ironed from before the pandemic. And a half-dozen more shirts needed to be ironed from date nights with my wife. It felt like old times on Saturday when I broke out the ironing board and my good German iron.

Old times aren’t coming back. We can’t predict yet how things will be different in the post-pandemic world, but different they will be. But when this is all over, I hope I’ll need to wear my nice, crisp, button-down shirts again.

Last updated on 5 October 2020 by Jim Grey

Standard

23 thoughts on “No ironing required

  1. My dress shirts are all cotton and require ironing. Which is why they are sent out. They come back all pressed and starched.

    Everything else has never nor will ever seen an iron. My alternate method is to take them out of the dryer after about 5-10 minutes of tumbling in the dryer with no heat, then put them on hangars to dry.

    Yes, our basement dehumidifier runs a lot.

    • I’ve sent my shirts out a few times. For what it costs, it feels more cost effective for me to just get out the iron for an hour a week. But it is sort of nice to not have to do it, and to have the shirts so well pressed.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    When I moved to Indianapolis, I was appalled that they had such poor shirt service and that it was so pricey! We grew up poor in Chicago and even my Dad had his cotton shirts cleaned and starched because the cost was nominal! I basically have been having my shirts professionally cleaned since I’ve been dressing for work. I went to one of the “oldest” cleaners in Indy and they tore the hell out of my shirts and charged me more than 3 bucks a shirt!

    Finally found Classic Cleaners, at Traders Point and in Zionsville (and more locations). They have modern high-end machines (that don’t tear up the shirts) at their main plant, where they send all the shirts, and the “modern shirt mangle” they have does NOT leave the mangle clip marks on the bottom, so if you’re cleaning a “camp style” flat hem shirt, or wearing your tails out, there are no mangle clip marks. Tuesday is “discount day” for shirts, altho still high.

    I was glad to get back to Milwaukee and go back to my old service, cleaned, starched, and perfectly flat, for $1.80 a shirt, and free button replacement! I’m not washing and ironing a shirt to save $1.80, even in semi-retirement!

    • I’m no fan of those mangle marks either. I used to use Deering Cleaners in Broad Ripple and they left those marks. And they never come out.

      The one thing I wasn’t crazy about with sending my shirts out is that the colors faded a lot faster with that laundering. I wash my stuff in cold, and use detergents that promise to retain color longer.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Yep, “pro” laundry service is a lot harder on your shirts than doing them your self! Also virtually all shirts have such bad thread on the buttons now, that your buttons start falling off pretty fast. My Mom, who was an excellent seamstress, used to tell me that most of the cheap thread rots off now pretty easily. The gals at Classic Cleaners were telling me that even the expensive Brooks Brothers shirts were now shedding buttons. I wore Land’s End Hyde Park heavy duty shirts for a long, long time; no button problems, and no longer available, now they have “sail cloth” shirts that are the thick cotton duck now. My brother washes his work shirts all at once, dries them for ten minutes and hangs them up still damp, and then touches the one he’s going to wear that day with an iron. No matter how good an ironer you are tho,nothing looks like a professionally laundered shirt!

        • Lands End isn’t what it used to be. I had a couple Hyde Park shirts and they were amazing. I have a couple of the sail cloth shirts now and they’re merely good, better than most of the similarly-priced competition, but in no way amazing.

          I might try Classic Cleaners out of curiosity – they have a store literally across the street from my subdivision.

  3. I don’t activate my camera for WebEx or Zoom sessions; my audio and video are disabled by default. I activate the audio only if I need to speak. I wear whatever I want.

    All my shirts and dress pants are Lands End “No Iron”. They look good through a full 50 washes. I don’t enjoy mindless activities so I don’t iron my clothes. When the “No Iron” clothes need it, I drop off at the cleaners.

    No starch. It’s uncomfortable and itches. Starch also damages the cotton fibres and reduces the lifespan of clothing. The Dry-cleaning and Laundry Institute ran its own tests and concluded that starch makes it about 20% more likely for fibers to be damaged by flex abrasion.

    https://www.dlionline.org/starchshirt-relationship

    • We are required to activate cameras in meetings where I work. But even if we weren’t I’d want to dress reasonably nicely as it helps me feel like I’m in work mode.

      I’m not impressed with the No Iron shirts from Lands End, at least related to whether they need ironing. They always do, to me. But their shirts are the best fitting of any I’ve tried.

  4. tbm3fan says:

    All my dress shirts are 100% cotton in both oxford button down or pima broadcloth from Land’s End over the last 42 years. They are never sent out. I simply wash them on delicate, hand dry to avoid heat induced damage, and then iron each and every one of them. That means I have ironed my dress shirts at around 10,000 times using my trusted 1972 GE iron. I can get a shirt to last from between 5-8 years this way.

    • Wow, hand dry. I don’t have room or energy for that. I wash on cold in regular and tumble dry medium. Still, my good shirts last years that way.

      Ah, an old GE iron. Built to last. My good German irons last about 7 years now. And those are among the best you can get today.

  5. tbm3fan says:

    I meant hang dry. My GE steam iron is backed up by a NOS in the box never used 1974 Sunbeam steam iron. They are built to last as some of todays steam irons start leaking before a year is up.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I can totally relate. I can’t wait to get back to the office, (whenever that may be) and start wearing my dress shirts again. While it is comfortable to dress down while wfh, I do miss dressing up for work.

  7. Jim I had to wonder whether you would only bother to iron the top half of shirts for Zoom/Teams meetings, so the lower part off camera was still crumpled.

    The only thing I iron are work shirts and trousers. But now I work only two days in the office each week and the rest at home it’s much less ironing, and if I hang the shirts on a hangar while they’re still slightly damp the creases fall out well enough anyway.

    A colleague of mine until fairly recently had her husband and three grown boys under one roof, and she ironed ALL their work shirts for them. Cannot imagine how much time she spent every week…

    • That reminds me of Linda Ellerbee, a former US news anchor, who famously wore jeans topped with a blouse and blazer, because nobody saw her from about the solar plexus down while on camera.

      I long ago gave up on ironing my slacks. They’ve improved the materials so much over the last 30 years that they look good enough right out of the dryer. That wasn’t the case in the 90s.

      My mom is a staunch ironer and used to iron everything but socks and underwear for me, my brother, and my father. So I know exactly how much time that takes every week!

  8. DougD says:

    Yes I find occasional ironing to be enjoyable, during my first year of working and living alone I would get ironing critiques from the receptionist at work. I got better, and faster.

    I’ve had good luck with LL Bean no iron shirts, and I can order the right size for my long skinny arms 😄

    • Hey, thanks for the tip on LL Bean no-iron shirts, as I too am in the long, skinny arms club. Seriously, sleeve length is the bane of my existence. There is this wonderful line of shirts at a particular department store here, right up my alley in style — and I can wear none of them. They size them S M L XL. The M is perfect in the torso but the sleeves are 1.5 inches too short. In L the sleeves are right but the torso is baggy.

  9. Ric Bell says:

    Try hanging them still damp from the dryer after being pulled smooth or hand smoothed. I find this acceptable for me although might not be as crisp as you’re wanting.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.