Saturday, August 30, 2008


It must be the testosterone inhibiter I'm taking. I feel like doing posts on crocheting doilies! Man, hormones are really powerful! Oh well, here's another post on clothing. It's about ironing sheets, of all things! Pity me! I can't help myself!

OK, here's a question for ironing worth it? I mean, why not buy wash and wear clothes and save the trouble? Me, I don't like ironing so I'll try to buy clothes that don't need it. Sheets though, that's another thing.

No good hotel offers anything but starched and ironed sheets, and it's easy to see why. Slipping into crisp, starched sheets is one of life's really intense pleasures. If the bed is well made, with everything pulled tight, that's even better. And if the sheets are sun-dried and smelling fresh and outdoorsy well, that's the best of all.

Hospitals starch and iron their sheets and change them frequently. That's obviously for for hygiene, but I'll bet there's another reason. Crispy sheets are cheery. They give a patient a feeling of being fussed over and cared about, and of being in competent hands. Surely that makes the effort worthwhile. And what goes for hospitals goes for homes.

You can buy steam sheet ironers for the home. Connair has one (above) that's less than a hundred bucks, but I've never seen it. There's another kind that they make for hotels and laundries. That one has rollers and probably costs more.

I get the feeling that someone who does this only once in a while would be better off ironing in the traditional way. If you don't deliberately iron in folds, it should go pretty fast. You iron while the sheets are still damp with a really hot steam iron. The starch is added in liquid form in the washing machine. Just be sure to get good quality, cotton sheets that aren't too light. Sun drying discolors some kinds, why I don't know.

Sigh! I need to get off these anti-testosterone pills! Only a few more days and I'm a free man!


Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Barely any woman in my family irons anymore, except for things that really need it, or on special occasions. Pants, shirts, sweaters, etc usually go on clothes hangers to dry, after having been in the drying machine for only a little while. If you then hang them in your closet, or fold them nicely and tightly, no-one will ever know the difference. By the time you've left the house and have people see you, your clothes will already have some wrinkling anyway, ironed or not. And not ironing is just so much faster and easier.

trevor said...

Right on. I can dig it.

- trevor.

Dan C said...

My mother always taught me the following order of ironing: Collar, cuffs, yoke (the bit on top of the shoulders), sleeves, then the body of the shirt. Having a system makes it so much more enjoyable. I've never owned an ironing board that didn't make my back ache though. And I think I draw the line at ironing sheets.

oppo said...

Wow, Eddie... your low testosterone levels must really be getting to you now.

But still, good points. Firm sheets have an air of professionalism about them, not like the loose sheets I sleepi in at home.

Lester Hunt said...

"If we can bring about a big improvement in the quality of life for a minimum of effort, then why not do it?"

Ah, these are wise words! Alas, though I realize there must be some such difference as this between the sheets at the Palmer House and those at Motel 6, I was not sensitive enough to perceive them last time I was actually there. But I'm with you as far as the basic principle is concerned!

Michael Sporn said...

Excellent post. I love ironing, though. The slightly browning smell of the iron against moist cotton is fabulous.

There are a couple of nice shots of laundry hanging in Lady and the Tramp. Particularly, one beautiful multiplane shot right after the meatball scene. It's nice scene when they use the image in animated films. Though, maybe it's outdated.

Anonymous said...

Hospitals don't starch.

Vincent Waller said...

If someone else is doing it, Ironing is great!

I.D.R.C. said...

I've never seen a hospital make a particular effort to look like it cared. Except where rich people go.

Cedars-Sainai and Central DuPage outside Chicago are fabulous. I intend to do all my sickness in one of them.

Laundries are the unsung heroes of the west. Laundries built the 20th century. They built it by providing the basis of great and galvanizing imagery.

The 20th Century was full of images of people looking great in their clothes and uniforms. This is the direct result of starch.

A great society is a well-dressed society. The pinnacle of progress and dress was perhaps around the war years and after.

Let's face it --most people would dress great every day if a box of fresh folded and ironed shirts showed up at your door every week. That's how it used to be. That's how my grampa rolled --and he was just a doorman!

So you can be sure that the more well-to-do didn't burden their lazy wives with hot chores. They had a servant class for that.

The uniformed servant class has largely disappeared from the American landscape unless you have a country club membership, and they took their influence on a mannered and polite society with them. We should have paid them better.

I love rayon, so I know exactly why you have to iron.

cwyatt said...

Eddie, I'm so loving these posts!
Frankly, I love ironing. It is one of those zen moments that I rarely have time for.
Benjamin: Men can iron too. I've seen it at the dry cleaner.
Just a comment about your photo of hanging laundry over the canals in Venice...
When I was there years ago, I couldn't find a place to wash my clothes. So the hotel desk clerk offered to have his good ole Italian Mama wash my clothes. Days went by and I asked when my clothes would be ready.
He told me it all depended on the weather. That my clothes were some of those very clothes hanging over the canals and it had been rainy, so they were still damp.
I got them back before I left Venice.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Dan: A system!? Fascinating!

Oppo: The low testosterone IS getting to me! I'm going to post on knitting next!

Lester: Maybe some hotels iron the sheets without washing them sometimes. Just kidding, I'm sure they all wash them!

Michael: I know that scene. It's beautiful but full of crawling dust and lint.

Anon; My Dad had starched sheets last time I saw him in a hospital, but that was years ago. Maybe things have changed.

IDRC: I think you're on to something. On one level it's silly and wasteful for everybody to overdress, but on another level it's a sign that ordinary people look to the upper class for social guidance, which is commendable in some ways.

Cwatt: Interesting story! The Italians used to have a knack for making hanging wash look like medieval banners.

Anonymous said...

Laurel and Hardy's characters, near hobos they might be, dressed better than the typical CEO these days.

I'd almost like to see the hat make a comeback, but it will not, because of Hat Head Hair. In the days of Hats, we had emogut Wildroot Cream Oil to keep our locks impervious to hats. Or else, we just cut away the offending bits.

It would be interesting to find the oldest existing photo of hat head hair.

These days, I dress down because I do not want to upstage my superiors, or ruin my better clothes. Its sort of an Arnold Palmer world at this point.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the lint and smudges on that "Lady and the Tramp" vertical pan inspired Disney to install their ultra anti-dust vacuum system used in making "101 Dalmatians" a short time later. This apparatus included a veritable sucking seam that sounded as one walked into the camera room, where finished cels awaited shooting. You'll notice a darned near perfect lack of lint and dust throughout that film. Disney would've ironed the cels if it would have helped. There is something to such a polished measure of corporate anal retention.

Frank Macchia said...

haha you speak the truth eddie

its funny though...i totally agree with you about how slipping into starched and pressed sheets is one of those heavenly moments in life

BUT...slipping into a starched and pressed SHIRT...i hate feel so confined and rigid like a shirt made of card board...maybe i use too much starch haha

i always wondered that though...

i love starched and pressed sheets
hate strached and pressed clothes

interesting post cause you got me thinking about all those unconvetional things in life that bring me joy and satisfaction haha

starched sheets...the sound gravel makes when you walk on it...the first time you put a new pair of socks on...stuff like that...haha

hang in there eddie...when youre off the hormone depressants, are your levels gonna go right back to normal? or you think youre gonna have a sudden boom in testosterone production...haha the results could be interesting

all jokin aside, have a good one eddie! fun post, i enjoyed it as usual

Carol wyatt said...

I actually do have an animation comment that related to all these laundry posts...
Have you noticed in cartoons, even those made today, there is always a nostalgic telephone that rings, a matronly woman ironing, laundry lines hanging in back yards, old-fashioned string mops, old-fashioned stoves in kitchens, 50s refrigerators, etc...
There are no tiny cell phones, dry cleaners, washing machines and dryers, modern mops, fancy modern stoves or refrigerators. No one uses the clapper to turn on a light.
Is it easier to communicate a joke using nastalgic props? Or is it that that's what we grew up with?

Phantom Spitter said...

Eddie, I figured out the difference between posts you did while you were high on testosterone and while you were low on testosterone! When you had high testosterone, you didn't use many, if any exclamation points, and when you're low on testosterone, you use exclamation points constantly!

Jenny said...

"Barely any woman in my family irons anymore"
That might be because ironing is gender-neutral, lol.
; D

Seriously though--I love ironing and do not excel at it, sadly. Thanks Dan C for the tips gleaned from your mom!

I've been to 5 star hotels here and in France and I'd say the vogue for slightly stiff sheets is outre nowadays: the thing is for insanely high thread count, soft, finely milled sheets that caress the form in ways a starched set canna do. There must be some starch but it's very faint.

I collect ancient books on homemaking(I've got ones from the 1860s onward)and reading the fun of laundry from then til after WW1-*shudder*.

Yes, though: ironing=zen. : ) if only it weren't so bloody HOT here all the time.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: Starched sheets are out!? I had no idea! Well, I still prefer them. Thread count does count though, even for least until I get my testosterone back.

Anon: Hat Head Hair? What's that? You mean the hair looks funny because it's warped by the hat? I didn't know that was a problem.

Thanks for mentioning it. Cartoonists need to know about stuff like that!

Frank: The sound gravel should write short stories!

Phantom: Over-compensating with exclamation points? Maybe!

I.D.R.C. said...

Its sort of an Arnold Palmer world at this point.

I try to be a good guy, but I have an automatic near-hatred for anybody in a golf shirt. Especially tucked into Dockers. Only a wife could encourage a man to leave the house looking that way. Wives are very territorial.

I like wet gravel the best.

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Jenny and cwyatt: of course men can iron too. Doesn't mean any man in my family did it (aside from special occasions)... No discrimination at all involved in my comment.

Jenny said...

Ha-Benjamin--no worries. : )

It's a topic for thought: what, in the 20th century scheme of things, is the sliding scale for "women usually do this chore but on occasion men will too and look vaguely feminine while doing it'"? I'm visualizing old movies for inspiration: seems ironing could be pulled off without too much embarrassment; cooking too could be masculine, but the ultimate in hilarity was probably a guy doing dishes or sweeping.

Eh, I'm way out on a tangent there but it's super late.

Anonymous said...

i.d.r.c. hating the polo/golf shirt

Yet, this is the corporate retail uniform of non-offensiveness. You need a collared shirt, but one without buttons on the front that can get snagged as you are carrying boxes etc.

I can't stand them either, I just consider it that uniform I have to wear to make a living.

For some, it is preferred casual wear. Not here.

Mark Stroud said...

The humanoid robot disturbs me.