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Jul
28

In-House Ironing Services: From Maids To Ironing Providers

In-House Ironing Services: From Maids To Ironing Providers Ironing clothes, making them smooth and without wrinkles, is certainly not a new practice. Like many modern practices, it was known to the Chinese centuries before Europeans had even thought about it. They field pans with hot iron and “pressed” the stretch fabric. Servants performed this early version of in-house ironing services. In Europe, glass, wood and stone – to name a few materials, helped to press down the clothing to smooth them. Enter the Blacksmiths During the Middle Ages, blacksmiths began to forge iron into smoothing irons. This was the beginning of the sad or flat irons. Initially, they featured iron or metal handles as well. The only way to remove them safely from the stove was by using a thick pad. Others had a wooden handle that was easier to grip. Mrs. Potts, an American, even invented a removable wooden handle in 1871. A further development, one not recommended or even considered safe by today’s in-house ironing service was the asbestos handle. It stayed cool longer. These types of irons were commonplace in homes across the United States. It was not really until the early 20th century that a major invention actually made ironing easier. This was the introduction of electricity to homes in cities like Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco. The Electric Iron Arrives Until later in the 20th century, every home possessed more than one sad iron. It was a necessity. One was in use while the other heated up. This was inefficient. Various attempts were made to remedy the situation including a Charcoal burning iron (1852) Gasoline powered iron Alcohol fueled iron None were to prove as effective and popular as the electric iron. It was on both sides of the Atlantic by the start of the 1900s, but electricity did not make its way into many homes until later during the century. Many homes that did could only run enough energy to operate the lights and nothing else. By the 1920s, improvements in both electricity and irons (the addition of a thermostat) made ironing more feasible for more Americans. Increasingly advertisements referred to them as laborsaving devices, running cleanly and smoothly across the surface of clothing and other fabrics. They soon became popular among all levels of society. Of course, while the wives and daughters of the middle and lower classes did and took in ironing, the wealthy continued to do what they had always done – leave the ironing to the...

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