The Ironing Board: Underappreciated Tool Every Home Needs

The Ironing Board: Underappreciated Tool Every Home Needs

When it comes to doing laundry, most people are satisfied by taking clothes out of the dryer and hanging them up or folding them nicely and tucking them away in the drawer. However, if you despise doing laundry and you leave your clothes in the basket or in the dryer until you need them… You’re going to have some pretty wrinkled garments!

Now, if you’re someone who refuses to wear wrinkled clothes, then chances are you are diligent about folding your laundry the second it comes out of the dryer. Why, you probably even have an iron and ironing board so your clothes are neatly pressed before you get dressed in the morning.

Have you ever stopped to consider why we use an ironing board instead of using a counter or the table? Or maybe you’ve wondered where the first ironing boards came from. If so, you’re in the right place! By the time you’re done reading our extensive article, you’re going to know more about ironing boards than you’ve ever wanted to know!

The History Of The Ironing Board

Did you know that ironing wasn’t a modern invention? Oh no! People have been ironing the wrinkles from the clothing for centuries! While we can’t say for certain when people started ironing, there’s been evidence that in ancient China, people used hot metal to iron their clothing long before anyone else.

History Of The Ironing Board

The first evidence of an ironing board dates way back to the 9th century and they were used by the Scandinavian Viking women. These boards were first made from the flat pieces of whalebone and the women would press their clothing on it and use rocks that had been heated to smooth the fabric.

 In the east, there was evidence, stone slabs were used with ironing sticks. These boards would be about a foot long and they were small enough to be used in the lap.

Fast forward to the 19th century when the idea of ironing clothing really caught on in Europe and in North America. At the time, women would use a plank of wood between two kitchen chairs.

According to some housekeeping books that were printed during this time, you could either use a pale softwood for cleanliness or a strong oak plank for strength. The books also suggests that there should be a thick wool blanket with a sheet on top of the wood.

The Modern Ironing Board

The first ironing board (dubbed an ironing table) was patented in the US in the 1858 was crafted by W. Vandenburg and later in 1861, Issac Ronnie Bord from Georgetown, Delaware created an horizontal flat surface that the user could adjust so they could press undergarments, linen, and clothing.

In 1892, Sarah Boone patented an ironing board that most closely resembles the ironing board that we use today. Boone’s board featured a similar narrow, curved shape so the user could easily iron shirts. Over the next 50 years, improvements have been made to the ironing board and it wasn’t until 1940 when manufacturer’s started producing a collapsible ironing board with metal, tubular legs—a design that hasn’t changed much since then.

Types Of Ironing Boards

When you start looking for an ironing board, you will come across three different types: 

  • Freestanding Boards
  • Tabletop Boards
  • Wall Mounted Built In Boards

Freestanding Boards

The freestanding board is probably the type of ironing board you are most familiar with. These units feature a metal frame that can be folded up when it isn’t being used, and you can adjust it to a comfortable height while you work.

Freestanding Boards

This type of board is usually the better option if you plan on using a steam iron because when the high pressured steam penetrates the clothing, it can go through the padding of the table and through the metal mesh table without causing any damage to the ironing board.

Tabletop Boards

The tabletop ironing board is of a much smaller design and it’s a better choice if you only intend on ironing small garments or if you’re short on space. These boards can be set on top of a table and they can be taken with you when you travel.

Tabletop Boards

These types of boards are especially popular with college students who share a dorm and have limited space. (4)

Built-In Wall Mounted Boards

These ironing boards have become quite popular over the recent years because they are incredibly compact and they don’t take up a lot of space because they are recessed in between the studs of the wall, or they can be mounted directly on the wall and they’ll fold up and lay flat against the wall when it isn’t being used.

Built-In Wall Mounted Boards

These boards are ideal for small laundry rooms, sewing rooms, and even in a walk-in closet. Many people prefer these types of boards because they are quite convenient.

You never have to worry about finding room for them in the closet, they are always going to be in the same spot, and some models even have shelves inside the built in so you can store your iron, spray starch and the water bottle—keeping everything you need right there within arm’s reach.

What To Look For In An Ironing Board

An ironing board can be a useful tool when you need to get wrinkles out of your clothes or if you want crisp sheets to put onto the guest bed to impress your in-laws. If you don’t already have one, you don’t want to run out and get any old ironing board.

There are plenty of shoddy boards out there that is going to make a boring chore and turn it into a frustrating one.

When you know what to look for as you are shopping for one of these tools, you can choose the best one to suit your needs and one that is going to be around for a long time. What’s even better, when you choose the best ironing board, it might make the task a little easier! Now who wouldn’t want that? (5) (6)

Some of the features you’ll want to consider are:

Type

Look around your home and decide how much space you have. You’ll want to choose the type of board that is going to fit in the amount of space you have.

Folding ironing boards will give you more space to work on, but they are going to take up more space in a closet. The tabletop board is going to be smaller, but it isn’t going to take up nearly as much space.

Folding Iron Board Type

Wall mounted boards take up no space because they are recessed in the wall, or attached directly to the wall and can fold up flat when it isn’t being used.

Size

For those who iron frequently, you’re going to want a large folding ironing board. Professional grade boards are going to be the largest type, measuring 5 feet in length and nearly 20 inches wide. If this is too large, you can find models that are about 4.5 feet long and only 15 inches wide. Tabletop boards are going to be the smallest at 3 feet long and only 1 foot wide.

Choose the size that is going to accommodate the space you have, the type of clothing you’ll be ironing, and how frequently you’ll be using it. Small ironing boards are going to make the ironing process take more time because you’ll have to reposition the clothing more frequently than with a large size board.

Mobility

Having an ironing board that you can move from room to room (or take with you when you travel) may be a factor that you’ll want to consider.

Mobility of Ironing Board in Apartment

If you do need a board that you can take with you or move, you’ll want either a full sized folding board or a tabletop, as the wall mounted won’t be as mobile, especially if it’s the type that is recessed into the wall.

Weight

Back in the day, ironing boards used to be made from wood and they were quite heavy and sturdy. However, they weren’t the best for actually ironing clothes. Today, ironing boards are typically made from a mesh made from metal on the top.

The mesh allows the steam from the iron to go pass and evaporate. These boards tend to be much lighter than older boards, and they’re going to be easier to set up as well.

Sturdiness

Ironing on a wobbly ironing board is not a good idea because it could tip over when the iron is in your hand and you could get hurt, or it could topple over when you’re not around (we do not recommend leaving the hot iron unattended for any period of time!) with the iron sitting on the board (or the iron rest) and it could be a fire hazard.

Sturdiness of a ironing board

So, you’re going to want to find a board that is sturdy and has rubber caps on the end of the legs to prevent it from sliding on a hard surface while in use.

Adjustability

It’s always a good idea to have an ironing board where you can adjust the height. Some people would rather iron while they are sitting down and then there are some who like to stand.

Maybe you’re on the shorter side but you live with someone who is tall and you both need to iron your clothes. Your board should always be at hip level, and with an adjustable board, you can raise or lower the board accordingly.

Some other features to consider with your board include:

  • Board Pad and Cover: Board pads will have holes in them that lets the steam pass through. The holes may leave divots in the fabric while you iron. You can get around this by using a cover that has a non-stick or reflective underlining, which transfers the heat from the iron back onto the clothing.
  • Sleeve: The sleeve attachment is a smaller board that you can attach to the primary ironing board and it is used to iron your sleeves, socks, and other small garments.
  • Iron Rest: This is usually just a wire rack where you can sit the iron while you reposition the garment.

Popular Ironing Board Manufacturers

There are a lot of companies that offer ironing boards in their product lineup. However, you don’t want to choose a board from a company that you know nothing about because the quality of their products may not be up to par. There are four reputable manufacturer’s that are known for making products that are pretty good.

  • Rowenta: Rowenta is a German brand that has been making high-quality products for the home since 1909. While the Rowenta ironing board is quite popular, you can find other products like steam generators, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, fans, air purifiers and much more.
  • Brabantia: The Brabantia company was founded in 1919 by a small group of 15 people from the small Dutch town of Aalst. The first products they produced were milk cans, jugs, sieves and funnels; but today you can find other products like food storage solutions, cooking and dining accessories, postboxes, and of course, the Brabantia ironing board and other laundry essentials.
  • ​Household Essentials: The name should say it all! The Household Essential company specializes in things that will make a house a home. Beside the Household Essentials ironing board, the company makes a wide selection of laundry, storage and home décor items that you can use to complete your home.
  • Southern Enterprises: The Southern Enterprises ironing board is just one item that Southern Enterprises LLC offers. Their product lineup includes everything from bed and bath accessories, fireplaces, craft and organization, and so much more. If you ever need anything for your home, chances are you can find it in the Southern Enterprises line up.

How To Make A DIY Ironing Board

Maybe you aren’t interested in spending money on an ironing board, which is fine and well. You do have the option of making your own board if you’d prefer not to iron on top of a table (we don’t recommend that you do this anyway) or on top of your washing machine.

So, how do you make your own? It’s actually really easy! To do this, you will need:

  • A half sheet of plywood (measures 48” x 48”)
  • 100% cotton batting (essential!)
  • ​100% pre-washed cotton fabric
  • ​Fabric shears
  • ​Staple gun and staples
  • ​Hammer

Steps

1. Measure out how large you want your ironing board to be. If a half sheet of plywood is too large, you can ask the lumber yard to cut it to the size that you need. Sand the edges just so you don’t get any splinters while you work.

2. Lay 2 or 3 layers of the cotton batting on top of your board, leaving an inch or two hang on all sides of the board.

3. Next lay the cotton fabric on top. Again, leave an inch or two hang over on all sides.

4. Flip the board over and staple the batting to the back of the board. Make sure the cotton batting and fabric is taut before stapling!

5. Go around and hammer in all the staples just to make sure they are good and secure.

It’s important that you make sure the fabric and the batting is 100% cotton because you’re going to be using pretty high heat (anywhere between 275°F to as high as 445°F) (8) on it. The cotton will be able to take that high heat without it becoming a fire hazard or melting.

Safety Tips When Using Your Ironing Board

While you may know that the iron is hot and you need to be careful when using it, sometimes accidents do happen and people can get hurt. Here are a few safety tips you can (and should!) use when you’re using your board.

  • Avoid using your iron and ironing board when small kids or pets are around.
  • Always make sure the safety locks are being used so the board doesn’t collapse.
  • ​Keep the cord from the iron away from children and away from the workspace.
  • ​Always use the iron rest when you are repositioning clothing.
  • ​Never leave the ironing board and iron unattended for any length of time.

Caring For Your Ironing Board

You might already know how to clean your iron, but did you know that your ironing board also needs to be cleaned—more specifically, the ironing board cover?

The cover can get dirty from starch build up, which could cause damage to your clothing if left to build up. Fortunately, the covers are usually really easy to clean.

All you need to do is remove the cover from the board and read the cleaning instructions. Some are machine washable, while others will require that you spot clean them. 

To spot clean, you will want to create a cleaning solution:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3 table spoons baking soda

Combine these in a spray bottle and shake. Spray the problem area with the solution and let it sit for a minute or two. Then you can wipe the cover with a warm damp cloth.

With the covers that can be thrown in the washer, you do not want to put it in the dryer. That type of extreme heat will damage the cover and it’ll be useless afterward. Instead, just let the cover air dry while hanging on the clothesline.

Maintaining Your Ironing Board

An ironing board isn’t something that you want to have to replace very often, especially if you have an expensive built-in unit. To prolong the life of your ironing board, you’ll want to follow these tips:

1

Never put the face of a hot iron down on the cover. This could scorch the cover, the pad, and even become a fire hazard if left for too long.

2

Regularly clean your cover. This is going to prevent dust, starch, and dirt from transferring to you garment and possibly damaging it.

3

Always make sure you read the tag of the clothing to make sure that you can iron it. You don’t want to attempt to iron a fabric that is going to melt and possibly ruin your board’s cover.

4

Check any moving parts like the legs, the hinges (for a wall mounted board), and the iron rack to make sure everything is secure.

Ironing Board Wrap Up

Whether you are preparing for an important meeting, a job interview, or you just like to look sharp, ironed clothing can make all the difference in how you look. The ironing board is often overlooked and forgotten.

However, when you do use one of these tools, you’ll be able to iron your clothes so much easier (and safer) than if you were to iron on the bed, the floor, table, or any other surface.

Ironing Boards Types

There are many different models of ironing boards available on the market, and it can be a little overwhelming when you’re shopping for one. You might have questions like would a tabletop board be large enough for your needs, or should you go for a large professional grade board. Even still, which brand should you trust when you do decide the kind of board you want.

We’ve anticipated this and we’ve created a buying guide that you can look through to help you decide which will be the best ironing board for your needs. We even provide you with 5 mini reviews of products that we feel are great options that are worthy of your consideration.

Leave us a comment below and let us know what piece of clothing you iron the most. Do you like a crisp pleat in your slacks, or maybe you like that perfectly straight collar on a button down shirt? Also, if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear those too!

Leave a Comment: