Une femme recommends…

Darling, where have you been all my life???

Le monsieur likes his button-front shirts. He’s a wear-em-once-and-wash-em kind of homme. A Domestic Goddess I am not, and as neither of us has time to iron shirts (especially as quickly as he goes through them), for years it’s been hi-ho, hi-ho, off to the cleaners they’d go for a wash and press. But lately those laundry elves must have developed a taste for Cristal and caviar, as the per-shirt price has almost tripled in the last year or so. We tried cheaper laundries, but the shirts came back with broken or missing buttons, and an overabundance of starch. Add in those “dry clean only” items that really don’t need to be cleaned, just pressed, and I was hitting the wall with the escalating and unnecessary costs.

Karen had recommended this Jiffy steamer a while back, and I finally succumbed to its industrial charms. It arrived this weekend, required a minimal amount of easy assembly, and within 20 minutes I was off and steaming a two-week pile of home-laundered shirts. The instructions say to let it heat up for a couple of minutes; I found it hit optimum steam after about 5 minutes.

I will say that if you demand razor sharp, stand-at-attention-crisp shirts, you will probably be underwhelmed. But if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make cotton shirts and other items you’d normally iron look presentable, it’s just the ticket. Once I got the hang of it, pressing a shirt with this steamer took under 2 minutes, probably about 1/3 the time it would take (me) to iron.

And as mentioned above, it’s great for those “dry clean” pieces that just need a little pressing to freshen. It’s easier on fabrics than ironing, leaves no iron sheen, and there’s no risk of scorching. It stores easily in a broom closet fully assembled, or you could probably take the rack apart to store in a smaller space. With what we’ll save on cleaning costs, I anticipate I’ll recoup the cost within a couple of months.

How to you handle pressing clothes?  Do you iron, steam, or buy only “no iron” clothing?
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23 Comments

  1. January 31, 2012 / 1:41 pm

    I’m an ironer, but I’m not very good. When the kids were still at home, they always asked dear hubby to iron their clothes! (I credit the US Army for teaching him.) I’ve never tried a steamer. I hope it works well for you.

  2. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 / 2:27 pm

    I bought a steamer a couple of years ago and love it! I use it most often for my cardigans and blazers that don’t really get dirty, but get those wrinkles at the inside elbow area on the sleaves or on the back when I’m sitting in my chair at work. Just a couple of swipes with the steamer and they look freshly dry cleaned. I also use if for delicate blouses. My husband is an ironer and hasn’t tried the steamer yet, but I think he really likes his crisply ironed shirt look. Great post and I am enjoying your blog!

  3. Tara
    January 31, 2012 / 2:36 pm

    I iron…everything. I’m convinced it’s a sickness, I have a small portable steamer but the iron is my friend. I think it started when our housekeeper used to let me iron my Dad’s hankys. There was something very gratifying about laying that wrinkled mess on the ironing board, then with a few passes of the iron it was a vision of smooth white cloth. There should be a support group for this.

    The Rowenta I have can, when held upright, send a blast of steam across the room, makes a pretty good steamer when needed.

  4. January 31, 2012 / 3:08 pm

    I rarely iron, but this does have appeal! Sometimes a quick steam would do the trick.

  5. January 31, 2012 / 3:15 pm

    May I suggest hiring someone to iron le monsieur’s shirts? Because I had time, and needed some extra money, I ironed for a friend’s hubby. He owned his own business and needed to look “sharp”, something the dry cleaners wasn’t providing with their method of pressing. It worked out for all of us for more than a decade. I’d still be doing it for her/him but I have since moved. There are lots of people who could use this sort of job, especially if it’s done from their home.

    • metscan
      January 31, 2012 / 6:05 pm

      What a great idea. Everyone could do with some extra money, and going back and forth to the laundry is time consuming and expensive.

  6. January 31, 2012 / 3:20 pm

    Another way to do it – except for the finest of shirts – is to remove the shirt from the washer before it is dry. Not sopping wet, but still some water in it to pull out the wrinkles. Put it on a hanger and smooth the collar, the cuffs, the placket, and the pocket. Button it. Pull out the seams. Let it dry. It will dry almost wrinkle free.

    My husband the engineer who hates to iron but likes button-down shirts taught me this trick. I hadn’t ironed in years when I met him, except for the time the Moroccan Millionaire asked me to iron his shirt and I said yes. I can’t believe I did that. He didn’t even pay for my ticket to Paris!

  7. January 31, 2012 / 4:00 pm

    I send Mr. HB’s shirts out, he’s very fussy and a partner in an architectural firm and needs to keep up his appearance. That steamer is a great solution to the rising costs of the laundry service.
    My next washer and dryer will be a steam set and I am told they work like a charm.

  8. January 31, 2012 / 5:42 pm

    I like to iron (and learned to do it properly in the Marine Corps). Also have a steamer I inherited from my mother, though I have not used it yet due to laziness and lack of an instruction book. I really should learn to use it.

  9. January 31, 2012 / 6:28 pm

    How did we get a generation of guys who associate “iron” with golf?

    Le Duc rarely needs a dress shirt, but if he did I’d adopt a variant on Ruth’s solution, one that a friend uses. He hires his cleaning lady to iron as well, cheaper and more convenient than taking them to the cleaner’s- and much easier on his shirts. I actually like to iron, it’s clean, meditative work- but hardly need to do it. (Also use shower trick but figure your steamer will deliver more concentrated blasts.)

  10. January 31, 2012 / 7:01 pm

    I LOVE my steamer! I rarely iron, and steaming my clothing gets most wrinkles out and freshens them up! Great investment!

  11. fmcgmccllc
    January 31, 2012 / 12:10 pm

    Brooks Brothers no iron shirts. I taught my son to iron a shirt, how to do laundry and hang and fluff. I have had steamers for years, sometimes yes and usually they just don’t hold up over time. I certainly am rooting for yours to give you years of pleasure.

  12. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 / 8:46 pm

    I must admit I can’t find my iron. Perhaps I no longer own one. I choose clothes that don’t wrinkle and I have started to buy the shirts that don’t wrinkle. They even have a seam that is permanently pressed in. The clothing that does go to the cleaners are likely to be the type that goes once a year. Spring, fall, winter coats and jackets.

    Then again the only demanding male in my life is a siamese. And, he is extremely demanding of what he wants to eat and when. I learned to iron when I started to get particular about my clothing. My Mother turned the job over to me and to my sister and brother when they turned particular. My Dad – well, he wasn’t particular and had to be coaxed to dress nicely.

  13. Paula
    January 31, 2012 / 1:21 pm

    The ladies from The Laundress have been recommending steamers and now they even sell your steamer via their website.
    If only I lived in the U.S.

    My home-made solution is hot showers: while I and Mr Paula take showers in the morning, I hang the “to be steamed” item in the bathroom.
    Works perfect for merino and cashmere sweaters, cool wool skirts etc.

    The nasty thing about ironing is not the ironing per se but unfolding and folding the ironing-board and storing it where it was in the first place after the ironing. I guess I miss 1 room in my apartment. 🙂

    If you ever feel like it I would be so happy to see a video how you use the steamer!

  14. kathy peck
    January 31, 2012 / 2:15 pm

    I have convinced my husband, after years of a daily button front shirts getting tossed into the laundry bin, that he looks far better in a tee-shirt and sweater. Good luck with the steamer.

  15. metscan
    January 31, 2012 / 2:21 pm

    I iron too. The shirts, T-shirts, whatever- about as soon as there is something to iron. Not liking it, but someone has to do it ( ;.

  16. January 31, 2012 / 11:33 pm

    My husband is a an attorney and wears crisp shirts every day. For YEARS, I ironed/starched them all, then relied on the cleaners to do this for me. We are slowly changing over to the Brooks Brothers no iron shirts (which I quickly touch up with an iron) and he is happy. By the way, the Brooks Brothers shirts should NOT go to the cleaners as it damages the finish, so I have been told.

  17. Gretchen
    January 31, 2012 / 4:26 pm

    Oh, wow, this is perfect! I’ve wanted a steamer for years and thought I was merely being obsessive (and lazy, since I iron with a grimace, not with resolution!). This may show up in my laundry room pretty quickly. Please keep us updated on whether it helps to take the smell out of suits, etc, as I hate that dry cleaners smell…even my organic cleaner leaves that processed odor. Yuk!

  18. February 1, 2012 / 7:17 am

    I enjoy ironing, although I don’t have a lot of it to do, mostly my husband’s linen shirts. I have a Panasonic cordless iron (bought last week to replace the twelve-year old same model which had had one spectacular bounce too many) and made an ironing table (padding and ticking) from an attractive curly-legged old console table: it stays up all the time just outside the laundry and is useful for folding and wrapping as well as ironing – sitting! I haven’t used a dry cleaner in years.

  19. February 1, 2012 / 2:43 pm

    As a lover of vintage, my Jiffy steamer is in constant use. Also great for hats!

  20. Kitty
    February 1, 2012 / 10:03 am

    I got a steamer late last year and I LOVE it for both keeping my suits fresh / reducing the number of times they need dry cleaning and smoothing out shirt wrinkles. I wish I’d bought one years ago.

  21. Susan Tiner
    February 1, 2012 / 11:35 pm

    I love ironing. There’s something about it that makes me feel very peaceful. If I lived closer I’d be happy to iron shirts for you :).

  22. February 4, 2012 / 5:33 am

    My fiancee bought me a steamer back when we were first dating because he knows how obsessive I am about wrinkle-free curtains. It’s also good for freshening up woolens that aren’t quite ready for the dry cleaner. (Love the steamer. Love him more.)I use my iron for just about everything else, but I do have a lazy-girl tip for when I just don’t feel like dragging out the ironing board. I wet a washcloth and wring it out until it’s just slightly damp. Then I toss it, and the offending garment, into the dryer on the regular cycle for about five minutes. No more wrinkles!

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