Fashion & Beauty

Ironing? Really?

iStock photo.

THE WASHINGTON POST just yesterday confirmed what we all think we know but weren’t sure: People are not ironing as much as they used to. Some of it is thanks to wrinkle-free garments, of which there are more and more. And some of it is the casual dress codes we all seem to have adopted, which allow lots and lots of knitted, not woven, fabrics. And Lycra—let’s not forget Lycra! A little bit of stretch makes those shirts snap to attention, right?

No surprise then that sales of irons are down, though it seems that most people keep one around, just in case.

And yet. There are a few things the Post article, written by veteran design and lifestyle reporter Jura Koncius, points out that have taken the place of irons and ironing. Steamers, for one. And sprays that sorta kinda smooth woven fabrics. We list a few below.

But what about you? Do you still iron? Shirts and blouses? Tablecloths and napkins? Bedsheets? (Now there’s a cumbersome chore, best left to commercial outfits that wash, iron and fold your sheets into blessed stacks of smooth, wrinkle-free cotton or linen. What a pleasure to sleep on. What a pleasure not to iron them yourself.)

We’ve gathered comments from some of the LittleBirds, below, but we want to hear from you as well. Do you iron? Do you avoid it? Do you send stuff to the dry cleaner just so you won’t have to iron? (Aha! That’s why dry-cleaning is such a big part of your budget.) Do you still even own an ironing board? An iron??? Bare your souls, we want to have a group hug.

—MyLittleBird staff

Here are some products mentioned in the Post and a few we added. And to avoid the ironing problem for once and all, we show some non-iron shirts.

LEFT: In a pinch, many time-pressed people swear by Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It’s $5.79 for the 16.9-ounce bottle at Walgreens. The product also comes in a 3-ounce spray bottle, terrific for relaxing wrinkles at the office or while traveling. It’s $1.59 at Target.Rowenta IXEO All-in-One Iron and Steamer Solution

CENTER: LittleBird Mary bought a small Esteam steamer years ago for travel and finds it great for wool sweaters that have gotten scrunched in the suitcase. This new little Ovo iron and steamer is cute and portable and can be found at Bed Bath and Beyond for $49.99.

RIGHT: From Rowenta comes IXEO, released in the United States this spring, which allows ironing and steaming with one lightweight steam-iron and a board that holds three positions for comfort. The water tank holds a lot and is portable for refilling. This just may deserve a corner of your bedroom. It’s $249.99 on Amazon.

If steaming is all you want to do, Rowenta’s Commercial Garment Steamer may do the trick. The water tank is large and allows for a whole hour of steam. It’s $88.99 at Target.


LEFT: In the old days we called this a mangle. But mangles weren’t quite as sharp-looking (or probably as expensive) as the Miele Rotary Iron, $2,049 at AJ Madison Electronics. 

RIGHT: Leave it to Miele to create the Lamborghini of ironing/steaming products. The Miele FashionMaster does both and folds away for storage. It’s $2,499 at AJ Madison Electronics. There’s a less-expensive model, $1,999 at AJ Madison Electronics, that doesn’t have the separate hand-held steamer attachment.


LEFT: This Ruffle Dolman T-shirt from Jones New York is a knit and probably doesn’t need ironing. But if there are wrinkles they’ll just become part of the fabric’s pattern. It’s $39.50 at Lord & Taylor.

RIGHT: This cute gingham-check sleeveless shirt from Foxcroft is 100% cotton treated to be non-iron. It comes in four colorways and is $79 at

LEFT: Foxcroft’s Lilith shirt with its scalloped hem comes in an array of colors and is blessedly non-iron. It’s $98 at

CENTER: From Coldwater Creek comes this Anytime No-Iron Tunic, available in white and several colors. It’s on sale for $69.95 for misses and petites, $89.95 in plus sizes.

RIGHT: Here’s how to look crisp on the hottest summer day. It’s the Taylor sleeveless shirt from Foxcroft. It’s non-iron and comes in a dozen colors. It’s $79.


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3 thoughts on “Ironing? Really?

  1. Jared Smith says:

    Ironing will take you longer and handling an ironing board would be a hassle. Using a garment steamer is faster and easier but the results will not be as sharp and crisp. This is also a reason why some people buy both for their home.

  2. Carol says:

    Oh my. So many memories of my mom ironing, and I had a child-size ironing board and iron so would be right beside her… I wish I had pictures. She would dampen the shirts, roll them up and put in plastic before spray starch. She also had a mangle, which she loved, even took lessons on how to iron my Dad’s shirts! Not sure how long that lasted, but as a teenager she took his shirts to the laundry. I iron much, much less, thank goodness, more in the summer with cotton shorts and tops (winter is about sweaters, jeans and turtlenecks).
    Never got the point of ironing sheets.
    Thank you, Little Birds

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Carol, I don’t know what happened to me, but I loved ironing as a kid! Even now there’s a (grudging) satisfaction in hanging up a nicely ironed blouse. Now, as for ironed sheets, I don’t want to start you off on an expensive luxury, but if you have 100% cotton or linen sheets, just try it once. Ironing seems to make the fibers lie flatter and smoother and the feeling is really, really nice! –LittleBird Nancy

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