Iron vs. Steamer vs. Cleaners
March 3, 2005 10:19 PM   Subscribe

This is so corny. Years and years ago we stopped ironing. After a while I decided that my shirts should look a little less wrinkled and started taking them to the cleaners at a price that is now 2 bucks per shirt. I am getting tired of going to drop off and pick-up and pay for these shirts. A friend at work suggested a steamer. They say it works much better and much quicker than an iron. I can't go back to ironing....ever. I am looking for a solution. Do steamers work faster and more efficiently than irons? Is there another less time consuming solution? Should I wear wrinkled shirts?
posted by snowjoe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(If your goal is those clean-pressed creases, ignore the following): if you can hang your shirt for a day or two before you plan to wear it, in the room that contains your shower (which may be difficult, as it creates a bit of clutter... and you did say "we", so it may not go over perfectly), then the steam from the shower will de-wrinkle your shirts!

If you live in an urban area and can pull it off, get some pre-wrinkled shirts (as I like to say when convenient: wrinkled is the new ironed!) and wear them with pride... and fifteen extra minutes of morning sleep!
posted by mireille at 10:38 PM on March 3, 2005

Similarly, you can just use a spray bottle to give your shirts a light misting, then hang them in the bathroom overnight. As mireille says, they won't have sharp creases or anything, but come morning you'll have some nice, serviceably de-wrinkled shirts ready to go.
posted by scody at 10:50 PM on March 3, 2005

Or you can buy wrinkle-free shirts. They're for real, and there are some nice ones. They've helped me live with my ironing allergy.
posted by NortonDC at 11:04 PM on March 3, 2005

Way back when I was still ironing shirts, I used a steamer for a while, and I was favorably impressed with the speed and results compared to an iron.

I did not find the savings in time and effort to be significant enough though, and these days I only wear heavy cotton shirts that do not require any ironing.
posted by Deepspace at 11:11 PM on March 3, 2005

I'll put aside the fact that I love ironing shirts (love it love it love it love it love it: I've missed dinner parties because I was too taken with ironing) to let you know that my experience with steamers is that they're, at best, just okay. The ones I've used gave me wrinkle-free shirts, but there were no decent (i.e. sharp) creases to be found, so the sleeves looked crap. Steamers save time, but they leave you looking like someone who's saved time on their ironing.
posted by bunglin jones at 11:29 PM on March 3, 2005

Shower-steaming doesn't seem to work for me, but misting them and tossing them in the dryer for a few minutes does. Still not creased, but toasty warm! (that should count for something)
posted by zanni at 12:53 AM on March 4, 2005

Wear wrinkled shirts. If you wear wrinkled shirts, and I wear wrinkled shirts, and they wear wrinkled shirts, we can all wear wrinkled shirts together and be okay with that.

Paying for coin-op washing and drying breaks you of the toss-it-in-the-dryer habit. I kind of miss that. I generally use the shower-steam technique, and only iron if it's important. (Job interviews, weddings and deaths? That's about it.)
posted by loquacious at 3:12 AM on March 4, 2005

Could you exploit a neighbourhood/friend's child to iron your shirts on a weekly basis?
posted by biffa at 3:28 AM on March 4, 2005

Or you can buy wrinkle-free shirts.

Permanent press seems to work for me, provided I wash and dry them carefully. Two bucks to clean a shirt? I'm way too cheap for that.
posted by fixedgear at 3:55 AM on March 4, 2005

The best way to avoid ironing is to stand at the ready when the dryer is done tumbling and get those garments onto hangers (preferably non-wire). If you're not doing your laundry in home, there's a transportation problem, but that, not whether to buy a steamer, is what you should be reckoning with. So long as your dryer is not overfilled and stuff actually gets a chance to tumble, well, you won't get sharp creases, but you won't look like someone who wears wrinkled shirts, either.
posted by blueshammer at 4:04 AM on March 4, 2005

I have a similar method as blueshammer--I put my shirts in the dryer just long enough to get them nice and warm, but still quite damp (about 10 mins top, depending on how much stuff is in the dryer) then take them out, give them a good shake, and put them directly on a hanger. You can then give them another smoothing out by hand. Hang 'em up to dry somewhere, and voila. Works with pants too. You won't look crisp and pressed, but you'll definitely look presentable enough.
posted by insideout at 5:33 AM on March 4, 2005

As biffa suggests, pay a neighborhood kid to do your ironing. The kid needs the money. (Or if you live near bunglin jones, you two could arrange something.)

The amount of time consumed depends on how long you spend earning the money you pay for the ironing, but it's time consumed at your real job, not ironing.
posted by pracowity at 5:45 AM on March 4, 2005

Good advice in this thread. As to steamers, they're great utilities, but they're not ironing replacements. Steamers are great at knocking out wrinkles in wool and silk but are less effective on cotton, where the pressure of an iron really makes a difference. Steamers are a bit of a pain in the neck, too, since you have to fill them with water, wait for them to warm (mine takes 15 minutes) and address each individual crease. For me, steaming is not a replacement for ironing but an alternative, one with its own advantages and disadvantages.
posted by werty at 6:08 AM on March 4, 2005

If I like the shirt, I'll like ironing it - no charge. If you happen to be close to Fremantle, Western Australia...
posted by bunglin jones at 6:10 AM on March 4, 2005

Go wrinkled! I'm with you 100% on that one. We only get a limited amount of time on the planet and ironing is not how I care to use it up. I like to think that wearing wrinkly shirts makes people think I'm one of those eccentric types you always hear about.
posted by scratch at 6:23 AM on March 4, 2005

Nortstrom have some great easy care (may be called SmartCare) shirts that cost about 40 bucks, but perform amazingly well - they are only single colors/button collar though so that may not work for you.
posted by azlondon at 7:18 AM on March 4, 2005

I use Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It comes in a spray bottle. Just mist it on, smooth out the fabric with your hands, and let it dry. It works well enough for me on the rare days where I want to wear a blouse to work but it's been sitting in the laundry basket getting wrinkled. It might not be something you want to use everyday, but it's good for last-minute touchups.
posted by belladonna at 8:00 AM on March 4, 2005

When I worked at the Gap in high school, we used steamers and I remember they did a great job (though even when I iron I hate and avoid creases). The big hassle was keeping them clean. All sorts of nasty stuff starts growing if you don't keep on top of it.
posted by jalexei at 9:01 AM on March 4, 2005

The best way to avoid wrinkled shirts is to take them out of the dryer before they're done drying and hang them up. The wrinkles melt away.
posted by agregoli at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2005

I realize this isn't an option for everybody, but I just stopped buying anything that needs ironing.

My logic is "I'll only wear it once, so it would be a waste of money to buy it". I also very much like the pre-wrinkled shirts.

I shake my clothes out before tossing them in the dryer and pull them out the second they're done (I do dry them all the way -- no space to hang things to dry and I'm usually doing laundry at the last minute anyway, so I need it dry). They don't look like they just got back from the dry cleaners, but I figure I can let people think I got a little un-pressed on the way to the office.

Anything that doesn't look presentable with this dryer technique doesn't get bought or else gets worn only once. Then it's too wrinkled to wear anymore...oh well.
posted by duck at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2005

I typically solve this by taking my dress shirts to the cleaners about once a month with an interim dryer ride at home as described by others in this thread. I'm not doing hard labor in these shirts - I sit at a desk most of the day. There's no need to get fussy about how clean they are. This method works well if you own a lot of dress shirts.
posted by quadog at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2005

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