My secret obsession: ironing clothes

By Mike Turnlund
Reader Contributor

This is a weird article to write, because who really cares? I mean, of all the things to be obsessed about. Maybe it’s further evidence of a sheltered life. 

I don’t know why I like to iron clothes. I do enjoy donning immediately a freshly ironed shirt — nice and hot on a cold winter morning! But the most likely reason for my obsession is that I detest wrinkles, and as my wardrobe is nothing but cottons and cotton blends, ironing becomes part of my daily routine. Even on my days off. Even my work clothes.

There’s something about taking a pair of jeans or a cotton shirt and steaming away those awful twists and folds in the fabric. Puckered pockets, curled collars, and waves of creases disappear with a few sweeps of hot metal and the strategic blast of hot steam. It’s glorious!

I wasn’t always this way, and I didn’t go on my anti-wrinkle crusade until I was an adult. I can’t blame my mother. She was a practical person, and having a large brood of children, she outfitted us in only polyesters. I don’t remember mom ironing anything. Did we even have an iron? I can’t recall. 

I do remember Mrs. Kolb, our next-door neighbor in the Minneapolis suburb where I was raised. She actually ironed all day long, or at least seemed to. People would bring her baskets of freshly-washed clothes, and then she’d iron them up. She had two ironing boards standing in her front room. And she always seemed to be ironing. To this day I associate the sound of a hot iron steaming with that lady. She seemed to enjoy it; I never heard her complain. And I know she didn’t do it for the money, as her husband operated a successful fabrication shop. They had the newest car on the block and a very nice home. Maybe she was like me, out to rid the world of wrinkled clothes, although her reach was far greater than my own. 

But not for a lack of trying. I, too, iron clothes for other people. I iron for my wife and even, on occasion, for my daughter-in-law. I used to iron all of my children’s clothes, too, as needed. I even ironed for fellow students at the college dorm. But now I pretty much just fly solo, hot iron in hand. 

My wife used to tease me about my obsession. Not anymore. Now she just takes advantage of the situation and hands me an outfit with nary a word. Sometimes she’ll just put on whatever, wrinkles and all, and not care a wit! Or she’ll rock my world with a “wrinkles are my friend” or other such comment. But mostly she is sensitive to my obsession and lets me straighten out her world, or at least her wrinkles. 

I know, I know, I could moderate this madness by wearing clothes that, by design, are wrinkle free. But I don’t. The only items I wear made out of polyester are my suspenders. And, yes, on occasion I iron them too. But only if needed.

There could be worse things to be obsessed about. Like TV soap operas or painting with acrylics. But I like my obsession. It costs nothing, helps people out, and makes the world a better place. Sort of. 

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