Laundry & Ironing

May 17, 2011

In France, everything is ironed. Every sweater, every t-shirt, every pair of pajamas. Every dishtowel, every sheet, every tablecloth. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit. Friends, this is a big change for me!

Not that I’m any stranger to ironing — it’s actually a task I enjoy. But in both New York and Colorado, ironing was done more selectively. A special skirt might get ironed, or a particularly wrinkly cotton pillowcase. But in general, t-shirts are not ironed, jeans are not ironed, dishtowels are not ironed.

I think the difference is because of line-drying. There are people with tumble dryers here, but they’re not used very often. Line-drying is the norm. Even in Paris, people keep a clothes horse to dry their laundry.

But line-drying leaves clothes and sheets quite stiff. Running everything under the iron gets out wrinkles and softens the fabric.

How does laundry work in your neck of the woods? Is ironing a part of your every day chores?

P.S. — Honestly, I’d be drowning in ironing without Sharon.

Sharon is English, but she’s lived here for the last 6 years. She’s is amazing! She plays with Baby June for a few hours each day so that I can get my work done. During June’s nap, she helps with laundry and ironing. Or bakes things like Tart Plum Crumble. But that’s not all! Sharon also keeps chickens and ducks and brings us gorgeous eggs, gives us gardening advice, and shares her stash of Interior Design magazines. She’s like Mary Poppins made especially for the Blair Family.

The stack of ironed laundry you see above? That’s all thanks to Sharon.

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{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria @ Busy as a Bee in Paris May 17, 2011 at 5:49 am

Okay, so this is one way that I have so not become French. I must be allergic to ironing because I just can’t. Period. I iron on Sunday mornings, just what we wear to church. My hubby irons his own clothes on a daily basis and the rest? Well, hopefully it makes it into the dryer and if it doesn’t, oh well! Carefully hung clothes usually dry somewhat smooth! But maybe I need to find someone like Sharon!

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2 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 6:30 am

I hear you, Maria. I think part of my urge to keep things ironed is that when we moved in, every piece of bedding and every kitchen linen was ironed and folded, neat as a pin. I certainly want to respect these well-taken care of belongings and treat them with the same care.

If it were my own sheets, I might feel more slack about the ironing. : )

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3 gina vide May 18, 2011 at 4:14 am

Thread-count hardly matters, when you crawl into a bed with ironed sheets! Lovely, although & on a rare day (and I do mean rare), this is a luxury, I’ve picked up from France.

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4 cinzia May 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

Hi! I love your family!
Once, when I was single, I love ironing!
now, with 2 little boy and an husband…I like it less… much less…
fortunately I’m italian! I love France, Paris, Cote Azur…but I live in Italy! ;)

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5 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 6:31 am

Hi Cinzia! I know that feeling. I preferred ironing in my single days as well.

Hopefully, we’ll make it to Italy this summer. It’s not too far!

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6 amy May 17, 2011 at 6:29 am

This is what I was talking about the other day… Your clothes are so cheery and colorful!

If I took a photo of my ironing, it would be 3/4th black and white.

Your photo is much more appealing.

amy @ glass confetti

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7 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 6:33 am

It’s true! I do love color.

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8 Kathy May 17, 2011 at 6:49 am

So France is apparently not the place for me! ;)

The thought of adding one more step onto the already never-ending task of laundry seems… so… tiring! We iron only when necessary, but like you said, we have tumble dryers here in the states. :)

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9 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 7:30 am

If it makes you feel any better, it’s not uncommon to repeat outfits for several days in a row (changing underthings, of course). So in theory, there’s less laundry to do. : )

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10 Priscilla May 17, 2011 at 6:55 am

Same thing here in Brazil. Everything is ironed – sheets, towels (they do get stiff when line-dried) and clothes. But the difference is that here maids are quite affordable, so they do this task.
I do use my drying machine myself very often and usually get questions like ‘are you sure you don´t mind not getting your clothes all ironed?’ Honestly, no.

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11 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 7:30 am

So interesting, Priscilla! I love hearing how it’s done in different countries around the world.

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12 Erin May 17, 2011 at 7:09 am

Thanks so much for writing about Sharon. I think is is enormously important for all women, and especially those women who present the bounty and beauty of their lives to others on the internet, to acknowledge that they employ others to help them. Nicely done.

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13 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 7:35 am

You’re welcome, Erin. It’s true that I couldn’t do what I do without a lot of help. I think this has been the case for me ever since I had children. When I didn’t have the budget to hire assistance, I would do things like trade childcare with my friends.

There’s no shame in asking for help!

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14 Cris Marsh May 17, 2011 at 7:49 am

I rarely iron…A moistened towel and the dryer is my iron. In fact the sweater I am wearing today was “ironed” just like that : ) I do have fond memories of my mother standing at her ironing board with a water spritzer ironing our church clothes…

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15 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:08 am

I wonder if there was a specific year/decade where ironing fell out of fashion in The States. Anyone know?

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16 Summer May 17, 2011 at 8:23 am

I’m not sure, but I bet the popularity/wide availabilty of polyester of the 70′s had something to do with it’s downfall. Now there’s also usually some spandex or some other man-made material in the clothes so they don’t require it. As much as I love cotton and natural fabrics, I rarely (and I mean RARELY) buy anything that requires ironing or dry cleaning.

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17 Jane May 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

I was just thinking yesterday that for me and I think most of my friends, clothing choice is now determined partly by what doesn’t have to be ironed. I have plenty of clothes I love even given this creiterion. There are too many other interesting things to do in life (and some boring ones that are less avoidable than ironing). I line dry everything, but my everyday clothes don’t need ironing anyway. It is, as you say, just the special skirt that gets an iron. And gets worn less often!

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18 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

For sure! I would say most mornings of my adult life have been spent choosing clothes based on what doesn’t need ironing. : )

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19 Nick May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

We line dry when possible and have an old fashioned drying pulley in the utility room, and yes I iron most things, not undies socks or towels though. Partly due to the high cost of running driers people try to do without them.

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20 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Line-drying is new-to-me, but I love how the clothes smell after drying in the sun! And yes, it’s nice to save electricity at the same time.

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21 Wendy from Wendys Hat May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

As a child, in the 70′s, I grew up here in the US with everything ironed as well. Things have changes here with modern times though. I do love ironing {because I did it so much as a young girl} but don’t do it much anymore. You are lucky to have great help.

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22 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

It’s true. I feel super lucky.

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23 Bri (like the cheese) May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

My mom has been on to me to hire a cleaning service so that I don’t have to do so much of that on top of working full-time. But I can’t bring myself to do it. Hiring someone to do all of my laundry so I don’t even have to think about it? Now that is something I would seriously consider!!

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24 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:15 am

“What Would You Hire Out First?” That would be a fun topic for a blog post, Bri!

I think for me, it would be laundry/ironing first. Dinner prep second. General housekeeping third.

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25 insurmates.com March 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

Posts like this brighten up my day. Thanks for taking the time.

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26 Erin J May 17, 2011 at 8:14 am

It’s funny, I just started David Lebovitz’ wonderful book, The Sweet Life in Paris, last night and he talks about this same thing. How everything is ironed. EVERYTHING. I don’t even own an iron anymore, gave it up when I had my first and starting staying home. All my husband’s clothes are dry cleaned. But, I’ve been thinking about getting a new iron and ironing board. I really love crisp, beautifully ironed sheets.

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27 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:17 am

Me too! I adore crisp, ironed sheets. I think that’s why I like hotels so much. : )

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28 Lori C. May 17, 2011 at 8:16 am

Although I have two lovely Aunt Sharons that I wouldn’t trade for anything, I could really use another Sharon, like yours, as well! I love to do laundry, though, and wouldn’t mind the ironing so I would nicely ask her to do things like wash my windows and deep clean my house.

Hey, maybe your Sharon would like to do an exchange week…you can send her here and I will send you my 17 year-old daughter (but only for a week because I would miss her too much)!

Love from Lori C.

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29 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

Sending you wishes for another Sharon. : )

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30 Sarah Fritzler {Daily Design Inspiration} May 17, 2011 at 8:20 am

Well, I don’t think I could move to France anymore. ;) I have a stack of clothes that I haven’t worn in 6 months to a year because they need ironing! It’s so silly because ironing isn’t that bad, it’s just something I don’t get around to much. I’ve decided just face it and only buy clothes that don’t require ironing.

That said, I don’t think anyone in Colorado would notice if you ironed your clothes. As I’m sure you noticed, we are pretty laid back here! How I love Colorado and un-ironed clothes! :)

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31 Wendy May 17, 2011 at 8:31 am

Downy Wrinkle Release is my iron. Yep. A chemical. Gasps heard round France.

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32 Jenn de Jonge May 17, 2011 at 8:35 am

It’s the same here in Holland. Everything goes under the iron, because so many clothes are dried on the line. I prefer line drying actually, because it cuts down on the energy bill and when the weather is nice, it goes much faster than my tumble dryer. But I can completely agree with it taking up a lot of time; and, unfortunately, I don’t have a Sharon to help me. I’m glad you do though. :)

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33 tracy May 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

I hate ironing and I basically told my husband that if he wanted something ironed he really should do it himself. Although, on occasion I do it for something when I want to be dressed really nice (like a job interview or a fancy night out).

Oh, and on a really weird note…I had a dream last night that I had run into your family and I was so excited to meet the design mom family, so your husband was like, “we will give you a tour of the house.” However, it was a modern house that you were all living in. I find this to be so strange since I don’t even know you…I guess subconsciously I really want to take a trip to France or something?

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34 deb novak May 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

i live in or close to dusseldorf, germany. i am from houston, texas, and i have been here almost 4 years. we also line dry, you can buy a dryer, but its so tiny here, we have our washer in our kitchen (the norm). so you line dry, but i don’t iron…i think it was more custom in the past here to iron everything. i use softener, but i miss my dryer in the States…our towels are always stiff…i think they also the Europeans think it saves on energy…

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35 dunski May 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

Yes, it’s actually really because Europeans know that energy isn’t an endless fountain..not how we get it until now. So we try to use as little of it as possible (smaller cars, line dry, energy saving machines etc.) In some countries electricity is expensive to train people to use it more thoughtful.
I used to iron a lot when my first child was small. Now with 3 of them I’m the “bad” lady from the neighborhood, that puts lots of he clothes into the dryer (energy saving product though). The neighbors don’t mind. We don’t use fabric softener, a little vinegar and some lovely scent from lavender oil or bergamot does the job as well and is better for the water. I only iron stuff that really needs ironing like men’s shirts, some skirts and I rarely wear blouses. I never line dry towels..they get so stiff.. ugh. With some training it’s possible to fold laundry so it flattens enough by that.
I love the way you tell us about it and also that you have Sharon takes so much pressure off me as a reader.. (how does she blog so often and take care of it all???) ..even though I actually don’t ever compare or put myself under pressure really by comparison.

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36 DeAnn May 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

I grew up ironing everything before putting it in the wardrobe. My mother started us out ironing handkerchiefs. Now, I rarely iron anything, but this post has made me long for crisp stacked wrinkle-free linen. Oh, I am so enjoying your adventures abroad.

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37 JourneyBeyondSurvival May 17, 2011 at 9:27 am

I love laundry horses! I demanded that Mr. Survival pack my two as he followed us home several months later. He thought I was kidding. I considered crying and only ended up pouting for a day.

I need ‘help’ too.

“Soon my pretty.” I say to my tired hands. “The laundry is tricksy. But we will win in the end.”

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38 Lindsey May 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

The only French trait I haven’t adopted :) I have my French husband for that! Although I must say, I’ve had to stop him from ironing his underwear because I feel that’s taking it a step too far….

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39 Christy May 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

I served my mission in the Philippines and a member would come and do our laundry (by hand) a couple of times a week. They also line dried and ironed EVERYTHING. It bothered me that she even ironed my socks, so I would take them off the line and fold them up and put them away before she got there.

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40 kelli May 17, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’m in California, dry my clothes in the dryer, lay them flat when I remember but still iron my little boys t-shirts (mine too) every morning. Not because I love ironing, but because I don’t like wrinkles.

But I do have to say that when my family lived in the Netherlands for 6 years, my mom always used & would mail us French scented water for ironing. It was part of her Dutch laundry routine and I’ve loved inheriting that tradition! It makes the job so much more pleasant. I hope your Sharon knows that trick.

http://www.durance.fr/les-produits-durance/les-produits-soin-du-linge.html

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41 Tanya May 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

Yes here in the U.K. we line dry and iron. I was horrified the first time I stayed with family in the U.S. that they didn’t iron anything ! Love your blog,have been reading for a few weeks now and you are my daily design fix.

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42 Sandra Gonzales May 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

You seem like a busy woman with projects and family outings/gatherings and despite all of that I get the feeling that you take household responsibilities in stride. How do you do that?
I feel like I’m constantly overwhelmed.

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43 Zina May 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

I only iron natural-fiber shirts or dresses that need it–never t-shirts or jeans or sheets. My husband and teenage son iron their own dress shirts. But I guess I just buy or sew a lot of woven cotton, linen, or silk clothes, and I have a lot of kids, so I still spend far more time ironing than any other western U.S. woman I know. (I did find out one of my cousins irons jeans, which made me feel less alone. Must be genetic.) I think the French just haven’t shifted from how things were done everywhere in the earlier part of the 20th century. But I think in the old days a lot of people did have help. I was just at my step-mom’s mom’s funeral and they talked about how she used to trade voice lessons for ironing.

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44 kirsten May 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

Once your children are perfectly behaved and your house is running smoothly, I hope the wind picks Sharon up and blows her my way.

:)

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45 amyks May 17, 2011 at 10:23 am

I hate, hate, hate ironing. I come from a family of crazy ironers (I don’t think that’s a real word).I have lived far from home since I graduated high school and my parents would get so upset when they visited me and I was wearing wrinkly clothes. When I got married and my mom would come to visit she would iron every single item of clothing in my husband’s closet. I finally stopped all the madness and hired someone to come in every two weeks to iron sheets, and other stuff that can’t be worn without ironing. I know it is such a luxury, but it has become a necessity with my 2 girls and son who wear uniforms to school. I am sure that I will have to teach my children to iron someday, but for now I am enjoying an iron free world.

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46 Carol May 17, 2011 at 10:30 am

I guess I would fit in well in France! I do iron everything, even with two teenage boys! There is nothing like nicely pressed clothes, and I just can’t put them away without ironing. I love pressed sheets and pillow cases… I would prefer to have someone do it for me, but it is by no means my least favorite chore. My friends tease me about ironing pyjamas, I don’t care – I am proud to wear pressed pyjamas. Downside, I do go through a lot of irons – I love the steam and we have hard water.

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47 Faith May 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Carol,

I have hard water too and I use distilled water in all my appliances that require water (steam mop, clothes steamer and the iron). The distilled water is free of minerals and costs between .50-$1.00 at the grocery store. I have a gallon on hand in my laundry room and it lasts a while and saves me lots of money in the long run!

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48 kelleyn May 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

I refuse to iron!

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49 Tricia May 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

I grew up in a quirky household without a dryer, so we ironed gym clothes, sweaters, EVERYTHING. We looked quite eccentric to everyone else, but it is now one of those charming memories of my mom and my childhood.

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50 NolaLeBlanc May 17, 2011 at 11:15 am

As I take clothes out of the dryer, I make my ironing pile. I try to iron once a week. I have found that it is much easier to get my family out of the door and be on time if everything has been previously ironed. I hate being late. It stresses me out and make me short tempered. My friends think it is neurotic, but I think it’s one of those things that makes our family run smoother. I say whatever works for you.

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51 Jennifer May 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

There is a cottage industry of ironers in Paris. My friends, who both have creative jobs and a limited budget, have both a cleaner *and* a separate person to come do the ironing. And I will say that my friend always looks perfectly pressed. My other friend is Scottish and married to a frenchman and she was shocked to learn after their marriage that he expected to have ironed sheets.

Personally, I love the look of ironed clothes, but do not own that many that require it as I am still not back to my pre-partum (is that a phrase?) size; actually, if you have any tips on that topic, please post them!

All best,

Jennifer

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52 Cathi May 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

Oh how a wish I had a Sharon!! Your Sharon to be specific! ;D
I loathe ironing. I iron when sewing (pressing seams) otherwise only when necessary. My husband wears long sleeved button down shirts every single day. He always looks pristine in his pressed shirts that … I take to the laudry dirty and pick up all clean and pressed! I can’t believe I’m admitting that I pay to have his shirts laundered. Now me … I wear mine straight out of the dryer! LOL

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53 DenaZS May 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

Two of my daughters were exchange students. One in Belgium and the other in France. They both remarked that their families ironed socks! My husband irons all of his shirts every month or so. He is retired so he does’t have dress shirts anymore.

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54 Kristina Doss May 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

You surely know how to make ironing look like a thing of beauty! Love the picture. I must admit that I’m not really into ironing. Thankfully, my husband — who is in the military — has had a lot of practice ironing his uniforms. So, I pass on special items that need ironing to him. :)

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55 Renee May 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

We iron everything we wear (on the outside-not undies,etc). Each morning, it is part of our dressing routine. My husband and I pick out our outfit for the day and then take turns at the ironing board, each doing our own items. If one is in a particular hurry, we help each other out. Jeans, t-shirts, sweaters – nothing is left out. But we don’t iron sheets (but, Gosh I would love to sleep on ironed sheets-what a wonderful idea). And my toddler son’s clothes are only ironed when there is a particularly stubborn collar or hem. I don’t think of ironing as chore, but more as a dressing routine, such as drying my hair, putting on shoes,etc

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56 Heidi May 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Aha! So you do have help! ;) I always wonder how you get so much done with so many children! (I’m not sure how my mom did it either…)
I think it’s really neat that everyone in France line-dries. Imagine if everyone did that…wow. I’m pretty commited to line-drying myself. In the winter I have a clothesline hung in my son’s room and now that spring is officially here I get to use the clothesline outside again. Yay!

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57 Faith May 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I should live in France! (But I live in Lexington, Kentucky, where most people only iron the things they wear to work, church, or out to a social event. ) I iron my jeans, my t-shirts, my pajamas…mostly all my clothes. If I don’t iron it (i.e. my husband’s boxer shorts), I take it directly from a hot dryer, smooth the wrinkles and fold/hang it promptly. I hate wrinkles. Also, I do not have children, so the only ironing I do is for me and my husband. And…my husband takes all of his work shirts and suits to the dry cleaners, so that cuts out a lot of clothes. I cannot imagine ironing for 6 more people. I’d probably give up or ask my housekeeper to help.

I also iron my sheets and pillowcases, but not dishtowels, unless of course it might be one that is decorative and hanging on my stove. A friend once staying at my house pulled back the comforter and laughed! “You iron your sheets?? I can’t believe you iron the sheets.” I know it is silly to most people, but I love climbing into bed on crisp sheets and for guests it seems like such a nice thing to do for them. I like making them feel like they are staying in a really comfortable, clean environment when they come to stay.

Also, when I got married, I used a gift card we received to buy a really nice, heavy iron and it makes all the difference.

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58 Sarah May 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I hate ironing but I love cotton clothing, so it’s a must. You can’t beat that clean, crisp feeling when you put on nicely ironed clothes. I try to get it all done in one shot, to avoid having to iron daily.

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59 diana May 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

oh the ironing! my husband is irish and his whole family lives over there, and the ironing is the same (and for the same line-drying reasons). we always laugh at my (very sweet) mother in law ironing each little baby sock and onesie and everything!! she just can’t NOT iron it. i make the choice easy- i don’t own an iron! luckily my husband has live in america long enough to get used to not climbing into a bed with freshly ironed sheets.

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60 Matty May 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I iron as little as I can. I use my steam dryer a lot. My Mother is from Germany and she ironed everything when I was little before she got a dryer. She even ironed my father’s boxers, ha. She stills takes things out of the dryer a bit damp and irons them.

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61 Deborah May 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I have to tell you a funny story…
I pulled out the iron a few weeks ago to iron a knee patch on a pair of play jeans. My 8 year old son asked, “what’s that mom?” I kid you not. I selectively purchase clothing that does not need dry cleaning or ironing. Luckily, my husband does not need dress clothes for his job, and I’m currently at home with the kids. Since we have allergies, the allergist recommended we use the dryer instead of the line outside. (Lots of pollen settling in a river valley area.) I do miss the smell of clean sheets fresh off the line…

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62 elisa May 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

hehe, yeap, it was a big shock for me as well when we moved to Croatia. In fact I also did a post describing my shock when I realized we didn’t have a dryer and all of our clothes were “crunchy” nor dishwasher nor microwave in our apt. It took some getting used to.

http://croatia-eolivas.blogspot.com/2009/08/one-scoop.html

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63 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

We don’t have a microwave, but we do have a dishwasher. I’m so grateful for it!

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64 Freida May 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

This is a great post…I am French and I have never used a dryer. It’s been line drying forever and I can’t stand ironing, unlike my mother, lol! I do have some help in my home and she does one hour of ironing per week (mainly hus and kids shirts and dresses and sheets). I do love the feel of ironed sheets though…

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65 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I’ve said it before, but I could say it a million times. Ironed sheets are the best!

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66 "Fiona C-G May 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I love ironing when I find time to do it!!! But I do have a great solution for your ‘stiff’ line dried washing!!! Here in New Zealand we dry our clothes on the line outside too!!! To soften the clothes I put in half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of my favourite essential oil (usually lavender). This is a great more natural alternative to store bought fabric softener and it really does work!!!

I lived in England for many years and had to have all my washing draped around our apartment to dry. I wouldn’t go back to that for anything – there is nothing better than the smell of clean fresh washing off the line!!!

I love reading about your adventure in France – an overseas experience will change you for the rest of your life and in such an amazing way!!

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67 Design Mom May 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Thanks for the tip about the vinegar and lavendar, Fiona!

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68 Vanessa May 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Bummer! I don’t iron either. I steam clothes or put them back in the dryer. I guess I’ll have no choice but to adapt to the French way of doing things…two and a half weeks until we leave. Can hardly wait!

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69 Alison May 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I have more questions about your clothes in France. I wouldn’t mind ironing everything if my piles weren’t so monster like. I’m staring to question whether my kids have too many clothes. So many of my friends from other countries have fewer clothes (but nicer quality) and wear them more frequently. With 7 little ones under 11 & under I’m considering a super simple summer of 5 outfits a piece in addition to 2 church options. Any thoughts?

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70 Alea May 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I try to line dry when the weather cooperates. A few years ago I gave up on socks and undies – it just takes too much time and space on the line to hang all that up, as I’m melting in the heat. So I’m greatly lessening the amount I use my dryer. I rarely iron – but I luck out some with the line drying because we have quite a bit of wind, which helps soften things up. Unless it goes wild – and then you’re running around trying to catch your clothes!
If I was in France I think the ironing tradition is one I might just pass up. Do you think anyone would notice if you just didn’t iron?

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71 Stephanie May 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Line drying clothes grosses me out. I know it’s better for the environment and everything, but I can’t get over the idea of hanging things outside with pollen and dirt floating around.
I do like ironing. I don’t do it often though. I always get annoyed having to get the ironing board up and heat up the iron.

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72 Tina May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Confession: I do not own an iron. My boyfriend does, so I have access to one, but I try and avoid it at all costs. Another confession: I always use my dryer. I could say it’s because I live in Auckland, New Zealand where the rain can and does turn up frequently. But mostly it’s that I’m a little bit lazy when it comes to things like that :)

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73 Gillian May 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

My aunty was a mad ironer. BUT she had an IRONING PRESS. It was great, super fast, perfect results. Something to think about? Life’s too short for ironing! : )

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74 Mom in Mendon May 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Recent History of Ironing:
When we were married in 1968, he came with a collection of dress shirts. Thanks to my mom I knew how to iron them, and expected to. But to my surprise I learned that some of his shirts were the NEW fiber, 100 % POLYESTER. They didn’t need ironing!

As our children came along, our generation of moms (1970′s-80′s) all bought polyester, double-knit EVERYTHING for our families. At some point, we ditched the ironing board. I expected the change to be eternal, so I was completely surprised when my teen daughters began asking for darling little cotton skirts or blouses. “Do they still make that sort of thing?” I wondered. Cotton was back; we resurrected the iron. Who knows how fabrics will evolve next?

In any case, I still can’t get used to the American fad of men showing up in handsome cotton dress shirts or women in sweet cotton dresses–all crunchy wrinkled. Bring out the iron! : )

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75 Carol May 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Line dry when possible. *I* don’t mind crispy towels. Can’t speak for the rest of the household, but until they start doing the laundry I won’t be asking the question. We iron as needed, but NOT all at once. It’s strictly iron-the-things-you’re-wearing-today. Husband irons his own (better than I do). Dry cleaning is so environmentally harmful that I won’t buy anything requiring it.

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76 Damaris @Kitchen Corners May 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm

My husband likes to joke and say that he married the only Brazilian who doesn’t iron. I never iron. I hate it so much. I used to spend saturday mornings ironing when I was growing up, it was miserable. I refuse to iron anything.

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77 Dina May 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Ok, so even though the line drying makes them smell so much better, it leaves them way too hard and crunchy for my taste, not to mention the whole ironing issue! The first time I lived in France, my host mother even ironed all of my underwear each week! I am a just a dryer kind of girl, I like soft clothes and don’t have time to iron, so I whip them right out of the dryer after each load. Oh, I even had a washer/dryer in one in France when I lived there for the 2nd time and that was even worse, I think it took one load 3 hours to dry!

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78 sarah May 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

ah to have help with the ironing. if i did, everything could get ironed, but there’s no way. an occasional baby boy outfit, all of daddy’s dressy shirts and polos, and most everything i wear except jeans. but we do it as we need it.

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79 christine e-e May 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm

We’re fortunate to have enough room in our walk-in closet (nope! we don’t have a big house – a 2 bedroom condo with plenty of space for ironing) to leave an ironing board up all the time. Each morning I turn on the iron before stepping into the shower – then press my clothes for the day after drying my hair. I don’t like wrinkles… hence, I don’t buy linen (wish I could get past the wrinkles – perhaps someone has a tip to share)… buy clothing with mostly cotton & a tad of man-made (polyester, tencel, spandex, etc) to take care of the heavy wrinkles. I iron the rest of the wrinkles away!
I used to iron my daughter’s clothes each morning before they got dressed for school. AND, would do all my ironing in the evening (generally on Sundays) while we watched TV. My current husband doesn’t even notice wrinkles. I do iron some of his clothes for work – especially when he is speaking in front of a group of people.
I don’t iron sheets – we use flannels year round! odd huh! like a few miles from the beach.
Well – that’s my ironing story!

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80 Gaby May 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Yeap I think is a french and Aussie thing too! (lots of Aussies here who are used to it) I’m living in New Caledonia and was also surprised to see that everyone hangs their clothing to dry. I’m not really used to it and as you say I don’t like the stiff feeling on the clothes so luckily there was a dryer in the house moved in! (I think I’m one of the very few who owns a dryer here in Kone)
But one day (after receiving my electricity bill) I decided to try the line and hang clothes….well….next day while pulling up my running shorts a spider came down my legs! YUCK!!! I’m scared of spiders! Guess what? never used that line again! ;)

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81 ewa May 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Ironing is the the only one thing I don’t miss about Europe! God bless America for steaks, free refills and dryers. Warm=Clean.

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82 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

Your comment made me laugh!

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83 robyn May 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

We have a set-up in our laundry area so that we can hang dry the majority of our clothes. Luckily my husband isn’t the picky kind, so I only end up ironing my clothes in most cases. We do tumble sheets, towels, and all of our son’s clothes (I’d go crazy if I had to iron all his little pants, or crazier if I had to iron a queen-size sheet in the space available).

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84 becky f May 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I would rather do anything (including clean toilets) than iron. blegh

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85 Cate May 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Australians iron too, using a tumble dryer as the norm is bad for the environment as they use too much power. Yes, tumble dried clothes are softer and less wrinkly, and I do hate the ironing, but the sun is a natural antiseptic and is free, so ironing it it!

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86 Lissa May 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm

OH, one more reason I’d love France ! My mom started me off with ironing hankies and pillowcases. And I well remember my grandmother ironing boxer shorts, briefs, nighties, sheets etc. When my kids were little I always ironed their little tees and jeans. I still iron my jammie pants, tee shirts, sheets, pillow cases, dish towels. Towels go in the dryer though. I do iron everything at once though–put on some good TV and iron away. I have spent some time in Africa where literally EVERYTHING has to be ironed (undies, socks, towels) to kill the little bugs that land on the clothes while drying on the line.

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87 Sarah H May 17, 2011 at 9:47 pm

My grandma had 7 kids and somehow found time to iron everything (yes, even towels and underwear) and sew basically everyone’s clothes, and have a killer garden, and cook all this amazing food, and have an immaculate house. I could go on. I am a stay at home mom of 3 (so far) and I have no idea how she had the time or energy to do all those things, and do them so well!

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88 Astrid May 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm

The only reason I iron dishtowels is if I’m cutting them up to use as something else! And then, I feel so guilty, I do some real ironing…

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89 the emily May 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I would die. I don’t even iron my kids clothes for church anymore. There is just too much to do! I could never do it all.

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90 Hannah/Sundry Mumsy May 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Steamer.

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91 Autumn May 17, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Hi! Here in Hawaii we do a lot of line drying too. But not so much ironing! Its a little more casual than that! But one trick Ive leared from living here is this: Line dry your towels, sheets, blankets till mostly dry then pop them in the dryer for the last 10 minutes to fluff them up! Its a perfect combo.

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92 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

The other day, I was telling Oscar that there are schools in Hawaii where the students are welcome to come barefoot. Is that still true?

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93 jeanne May 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I rarely iron anything….and I want a Sharon!!!

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94 melissa May 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Diddo, I need a Sharon. She is welcome over here in Calif. anytime.
Just think how good line drying is for the enviroment. We have actually discussed it before after watching the documentry Home. Maybe this summer when the weather is warmer…

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95 The New Diplomat's Wife May 18, 2011 at 1:46 am

i loooooooooooove ironed sheets – my favorite no-cost luxury! but aside from that, i also love ironed white shirts, ironed linens and napkins. When we live in the states, i have to do it myself so that’s how i excuse a sitcom here and there. Here in Vienna, our nanny/helper helps out with that but that’s because it’s more affordable here. My grandmother is Polish and taught me that a lady doesn’t go out in un-ironed shirts and it kind of stuck – growing up she ironed everything for me – she would have ironed underwear if I didn’t stop her. Watch though, once you go back to the US you’ll realize how much people are in unironed things and you won’t be able to stop noticing.

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96 Junglewife May 18, 2011 at 4:09 am

I live in Indonesia, and like France, EVERYTHING is ironed. Down to the underwear :-) But I only have one iron and one ironing board, so I keep it in my craft/sewing room (which doubles as an office. But of course the crafts are more important!) And yes, we have a house helper, but honestly I don’t care if my clothes are ironed or not. I have found that hanging the wet shirts on clothes hangars and then hanging them on the line helps the shirts to dry in the right shape. And if something REALLY needs ironing, I do it myself. But if I would let her, our faithful house helper would iron absolutely everything!

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97 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

Of course! Crafts are more important than laundry any day of the week. : )

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98 bryssy May 18, 2011 at 5:30 am

That settles that – I can’t live in France!

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99 Jen May 18, 2011 at 7:14 am

when i was a nanny in london i had to wash the girls clothes and i had to iron everything – even the underwear!! and this was a big task for a nineteen year old. i feel for you. now in canada things rarely get ironed and my whirlpool front loader is my best friend!! i should ask my friends though (as we have moved to quebec – la belle provence.) if they have adopted this french custom (as a lot of “france” customs are still around here) or if they are more canadian in this way (as a lot do not wish to be canadian.)

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100 Annie May 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

I was raised in South America. Everything had to be ironed!!! Jeans, sheets, t-shirts, everything! [Nothing like the feel of just ironed jeans when the weather is cold.]
Also, the fact that they don’t use a dryer makes the clothes keep their colors and last so much longer.
Since I moved here, most of the clothes I buy need no ironing. Just my husband’s shirts. But those we send to the dry cleaners. :)

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101 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

In America, I always sent Ben Blairs shirts to the cleaner. It’s so easy and affordable. And they do a much better job than I can. : ) But here, drycleaning and laundry services are quite expensive. It sort of surprised me!

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102 Kristen E May 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

Yeah, ironing is one of those things I only do when absolutely necessary. I have Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis, so MANY of the household tasks are only done to a bare minimum around here. I have 2 part-time jobs, so when I’m at home I simply can’t stand on my feet for more than 10 minutes at a time! No ironing for me! Also very little handwashing of dishes, and not nearly enough sweeping and mopping, but hey. My priorities are savoring my time with my husband and furry children and doing my very best at my two jobs! Anything else is just plain less important.

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103 Debi May 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

I remember my mom telling us of a dream she had where she literally drowned in laundry. She woke up, went to the “ironing box” and tossed about 80% of it! It was the day of the new “Perma-Press” fabrics and from then on if it had to be ironed, we didn’t buy it! Later as a military wife in Europe I learned that either old habits die hard or Perma-Press never made it across the Pond! I had a “Sharon” by the name of Necla in Turkey and learned how quickly she could iron a weeks worth of clothing and felt a bit ashamed of myself. I think that dream of my mom’s may have made me think it was harder than it is. Of course she worked full-time and had 5 children! We are building a home and I will have an ironing board built-in for easy access. I’m looking forward to ironed sheets again!

Here’s a laundry question… any ideas on how to keep things white when using cold water and no bleach???

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104 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 8:50 am

I noticed that about Sharon too. She’s way faster at ironing than I am! No doubt it’s a combination of skills and practice.

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105 Aimee May 18, 2011 at 8:46 am

When I lived in Athens Greece not only did I have to wash my clothes in my bath tub but I also line dried everything. With no humidity things dried pretty fast but like many have mentioned all my clothes came off that line stiff as a board! Now back in the states I line dry as much as possible, but have always been frustrated by the stiffness problem. Ironing sounds like a good solution.

I will have to say how kind it was that you gave credit to your “Mary Poppins” that says a lot!

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106 Kate May 18, 2011 at 9:22 am

Boo for ironing! (We hardly do ANY around here.)
Yea for acknowledging hired help! I love, love, love to see other families shamelessly share how they keep their ship afloat. Lord knows it’s not easy and we’ve each got our own ways (and differing means), but it’s great to get a glimpse of others’ choices. Kudos to you!

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107 Design Mom May 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thanks, Kate! I like learning how other households keep things running as well.

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108 Jolene May 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I served a mission in France and I remember being asked to go in a help an elderly woman recovering from surgery. She asked us to do her ironing for her. What a surprise to find her bras and underwear and socks in the pile. They really do iron EVERTYTHING!!

I am loving reading about your family’s experiences in France – I lived in the South and the culture is quite different there but the same in so many ways.

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109 Decor Arts Now May 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Can you clone Sharon? Sounds divine to have everything ironed but I wouldn’t want to do it myself!
Lynn

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110 Carina May 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I rank amongst the world’s worst ironers, to the point a life-long ban was happily included by all parties in our hypothetical pre-nup.

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111 bdaiss May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I’m fighting my husband tooth and nail for a clothes line. He hates the stiff clothes (and thinks the lines are ugly). Maybe if I offer to iron everything? Ugh. Heaven knows I wouldn’t keep that up! : )

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112 Barbara May 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I was just in Portugal and noticed how everyone line dried their clothes. Big difference than the USA! Also, most people have their washing machines (if they have one) in their kitchens.

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113 Design Mom May 19, 2011 at 1:41 am

Yes, many washing machines are in kitchens here too. Ours is in a laundry room just off the kitchen.

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114 Morgan May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I’d never survive in France. I hate ironing with a passion! I’ll do anything to avoid it. My boyfriend’s family line dries everything when it’s warm enough outside but things always get a quick 10 min. spin in the dryer to soften it up before it get’s folded to be put away.

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115 Design Mom May 19, 2011 at 1:38 am

That’s how we like to handle towels, Morgan. We let them line dry till they’re 90% done, then throw them in the dryer of the last 10%. It’s just enough time to make them soft and fluffy.

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116 Ryann May 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I’ve been thinking about ironing more of our clothing lately. Partly because the ironing board is out for some sewing projects, and partly because I started line drying our clothes now that the weather is hot (we are in California). I was thinking that everything looked particularly wrinkly! And I just blogged about how crunchy line dried clothing is! After reading your post I’m seriously thinking about ironing our clothes (maybe not everything…)!

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117 Stephanie May 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I hate to iron. I often think line drying (outside) might make life easier. My whites would be whiter, and I feel like my clothes would be a). less wrinkled and b.) less stiff than line drying inside because they might blow around a bit. At least this is how it goes in my head.

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118 Design Mom May 19, 2011 at 1:25 am

You should give it try, Stephanie, and see what you think!

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119 Begoña May 19, 2011 at 12:49 am

Hi!! I’m spanish and been reading your blog for a while now. I’ve never left a comment cause I never had something interesting to say :-) but this is an issue I really care about. Line-drying is not such big a deal and saves a lot of energy!! I was shocked when I discover that in the USA line-drying is forbidden in some neighbourhoods, seriously??? Why??? In Spain, and mostly European contries, line-drying or clothes horse are the norm. Almost nobody has dryers at home.

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120 Gillian May 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I totally agree even though I live in Ireland where it rains alot and we line dry as much as possible. I don’t bother ironing though because I am lazy. I do use a drier for the last 10 % some of the time. Everybody has driers here but it would be frowned on if you put your clothes straight from washer in to the drier. Its just so bad for the enviroment and expensive on electricity. I also remember being shocked when I heard that line drying was forbidden in some neighbourhoods in America. Is that a widespread thing in America?
Funnily enough I have had french au pairs and I swear its like they were all trained in Benetton or something, perfect little piles of beautifully folded clothes done everyday.

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121 Design Mom May 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm

So interesting! I haven’t heard about neighborhoods forbidding it. Anyone live somewhere that line drying is not allowed?

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122 Nora May 19, 2011 at 2:08 am

I live in Germany and I enjoy ironing (don’t worry…it’s the only chore I actually enjoy) I do it in front of the TV at night…with a glass of red wine sitting next to me. Kind of relaxing :)
We do have a dryer but I prefer to line-dry in our garden in summer. We use the dryer in the colder months though and I have to iron less then. And line-drying in summer IS better for the environment! (I doubt that it is in winter, because line-drying inside the house cools down the room temperature and you need more energy for heating).

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123 Mary May 19, 2011 at 4:54 am

I actually don’t mind ironing, but do it selectively. Love a crisply ironed shirt. Would dry more items outside but the amount of pollen in the air this year has made it impossible. I do remember my mother ironing all our sheets…they were cotton, but after years of ironing, they felt like silk.

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124 Heather B. May 19, 2011 at 7:18 am

When I lived in Spain my host mother ironed my undies. It was interesting but I got used to it. I think it’s a European thing? I dunno. But I was 21 years old and someone else was doing my laundry and ironing everything. I was not about to complain.

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125 caru May 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

The same here in Chile. I remembered my mom ironing everything, school blouse, school jumper, sheets, dish cloths, underware, handkerchief, pants, some socks too. But in my case is different I only iron what really needs be iron, my husband pants, the shirts are “wrinkle free”, so don’t worry about it and my close i don’t care, my childrens cloths always put in the dryer son don´t need the iron. But a few people here has dryer machine because is expensive. So, here, in CHile we use the iron

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126 Claire May 19, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Here in Australia we hardly do any ironing – maybe shirts and special items but like you said not t-shirts or jeans. But we also mainly line dry. A lot of people do have dryers but we prefer to hang them on the line – or on the clothes horse to dry.

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127 juliagblair June 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

I haven’t ironed for so long, I wonder if I’d remember how! Soo grateful for wash and wear! I remember loving to iron after finals when I was a university student. I loved the luxury of putting my mind in neutral and ironing away!
Thanks for reminding me of this ! (I do admire expert ironers!)

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128 Kristin Whiting July 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I remember when I was in my 2o’s. I finally had a washing machine but no dryer so I hung everything INSIDE to dry. I had to iron everything but didn’t mind because it was better than going to the laundromat. I hardly ever iron now. If it needs ironed, I don’t buy it.

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129 Carla Showen August 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

When I was living in Germany I had like most Germans my washing machine in the basement, plus cloth line. The cloth dried very fast because the oven for the central heating was next to my laundry room. I left the door open.
Here in California I only put our towels in in the dryer on rainy days in the winter. It amazes me every time to see all the lint in the filter.
I take my husbands shirts and pants to the cleaner, but I do iron my cloth, napkins and place mats.
I turn on the TV and watch German shows on satellite without commercials.
And simsalabim my ironing is done.

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130 Maike July 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Oh, I am late on this one, but I have to comment, it is my favourite topic.
I come from a German family, so there is only line drying. My mom tought me from an early age how to plump up (I hope this is the right English word for it) every piece of laundry after taking it out of the machine and then hang it up very straight and carefully so it dries without wrinkles.
Now my other part of the family is from Ireland and there everything gets into the dryer and then gets ironed from jeans over shirts up to socks and underwear.
I always thought it is because the drier leaves stuff really crumpled up and wrinkly.
When Irish people visit us, they often bring their own iron. They are Iron-Addicts. :-)
(When I am in Ireland I always feel very wrinkly compared to the people around me.)

Funny thing: We love the stiffness of fresh laundry over here as much as the scent of clothes that have dried outside. It really feels fresh and unworn to me then. One of the reasons why I can’t do dryers.

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