On ironing and why it empowers me

Oct. 3, 2018, 2:00 a.m.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m a college student who irons her own clothes. Over the past two years at Stanford, I’ve realized that we are few and far between. There aren’t many students who both own an iron and know how to use it. And I’m almost positive no one on campus uses an iron as frequently as I do. Most simply buy clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily; others just let wet laundry dry flat and hope for the best. Some may even invest in a garment steamer (the iron’s fancy cousin).

If you’re familiar with “Full House,” I come from a long line of female Danny Tanners. My grandmother has vacuumed everything from the driveway to her bedspread. She taught her daughter well because my mom dedicates two full days each week to cleaning the upstairs and downstairs of my house. Between the two of them, they could probably run every cleaning company in Philadelphia out of business. While I haven’t memorized the hundreds of uses of Pine-Sol, I have learned a trick or two about ironing my clothes without burning them.

I purchased (or rather, my mom purchased) my first iron during the classic freshman move-in shopping trip prior to NSO. When we found the stockpile of irons in Bed Bath & Beyond, my mom sifted through the various brands and models available. She eventually found one that she deemed “a reliable starter iron” until I need an upgrade later on in life. Apparently, taking care of professional attire requires a more quality iron than the one I use on my American Eagle jeans. Nonetheless, my iron has been a trusty pal over the past two years (except for *the incident that shall not be named*).

My iron has been a source of personal productivity and academic procrastination. My roommate cleans her room to avoid work, but I tackle the pile of yesterday’s laundry on my desk that needs to be ironed desperately. Sometimes I even let my clean clothes sit in my laundry basket overnight, so I have a necessary task to finish before anything else. Even though I wouldn’t call my habit of avoiding work empowering, the actual action of ironing away the wrinkles in my clothing is so much more satisfying than you’d think.

Last quarter I managed to convert one of my friends into an ironing fanatic. After letting her borrow my iron, she almost immediately bought a full-sized ironing board and biked with it under one arm from west to east campus. That’s what I call dedication, ladies and gents. And she hasn’t looked back since because ironing is what you make it. You can put on some mellow beach jams, turn on the string lights and relax into the gentle back-and-forth movements of the iron. Or you can turn on an episode of “Friends,” open a bag of tortilla chips and eat 20 of them every time you finish a ironing a shirt like I do every Friday afternoon.

All it takes to start ironing is a look on Free & For Sale or a trip to Target. I’d be happy to give you a lesson on ironing and how to avoid burning a hole in the dress you were about to wear on a first date.


Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Login or create an account