Do I have to plug it every morning to get it hot?
November 15, 2007 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Why no "on/off" switch on cloth irons?

I haven't seen a single iron with an on/off swich, why aren't they more common?
posted by racingjs to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mine has one.
posted by LordSludge at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2007

Every iron I've ever bought has an on/off switch.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:23 PM on November 15, 2007

Irons, like ovens, are required to have variable temperatures. Just as you don't turn an oven "on," you set an iron to a desired temperature and do your work.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:25 PM on November 15, 2007

Every iron I've ever had has had a temperature dial or slider with "off" as the lowest setting. Just like an oven.
posted by The World Famous at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2007

because if you unplug the iron there is no question if it is on or off. I could see it as a safety 'feature'.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:37 PM on November 15, 2007

I have an iron with an On/Off switch in addition to the temperature control. It also has some kind of fancy auto-off thing. It's great!

Also, the last place I lived in had an oven with an on/off control separate from the temperature.
posted by zsazsa at 2:40 PM on November 15, 2007

I think a better question than the one you asked is "Why would anyone make an iron without an on/off switch?"

And I think I answered it. While there IS an "off" setting (or rather, "no temperature specified"), there's no "on" setting, because "on" is irrelevant to ovens and irons. It's "300, 350 degrees," or "silk, polyester, cotton."

Recipes don't call for ovens to be "turned on." They call for specific degree settings (e.g. "preheat oven to 350 degrees."). It's the same for ironing your shirts -- "set iron to 'cotton.'"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:42 PM on November 15, 2007

Response by poster: I took another look at my iron to be sure and the lowest temperature setting only mentions "low", so there is no other way of turning it off than pulling its plug.

I always iron at the same temperature every morning so it strikes me that few irons have a separate on/off control. Heck, even my oven has it.
posted by racingjs at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2007

Just a guess, but having put together electrical components with on/off switches, the more current you intend to pull across a closed (on) switch, the more expensive the switch tends to be, as a component. Irons, like ovens, draw a significant amount of current (mine is 1600W/120V), so perhaps building an iron with a temperature dial and without a seperate on/off switch is a cost-saving measure in production. Especially historically, I imagine heavy-duty switches were even more expensive, say, 50 years ago.
posted by myrrh at 3:03 PM on November 15, 2007

Because most people don't leave their irons plugged in, most of us aren't lucky enough to have a space to keep the iron that also has a spare outlet. Since you have to unplug it to put it away anyway, you don't need an off switch.
posted by anaelith at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2007

It doesn't? All of the irons I've owned (half a dozen, over 25+ years of sewing and ironing) have temperature dials where the bottom setting is off. There isn't an on/off switch, per se, but I don't have to unplug them to turn them off, either.
posted by jlkr at 6:09 PM on November 15, 2007

my iron has an off switch. it's usually the notch below the coolest setting.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:18 PM on November 15, 2007

My iron doesn't have an off switch. It is a cheap iron.
posted by robcorr at 11:52 PM on November 15, 2007

I have to crawl under a table to get to the outlet for my iron. If it didn't have an 'off' setting, I'd be walking around in wrinkled clothing most days and wouldn't bother.
posted by happyturtle at 11:56 PM on November 15, 2007

Mine has an on/off button, as well. But it may be that, with the advent of auto-off features on most irons, the manufacturer is using that feature for an off-switch - having users just leave it sitting for a while. Though that seems pretty dumb.

If it bothers you, Consumer Reports rated this Black and Decker iron a best buy for $50, and it's got a manual shut-off.
posted by averyoldworld at 7:37 AM on November 16, 2007

The lowest setting on my iron is "off". I've never seen an iron that wasn't like that. Perhaps because I sew and the cheapest of the cheap irons are too light to be useful on a lot of fabrics.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2007

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