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I would like to consider myself a reasonably housetrained man. I have lived out of home for going on five years now. I have done my own washing and ironing practically since I was old enough to reach the dials on the washing machine (well, perhaps late high school). Yet sometimes I am reminded that, despite all my efforts at sophistication, there are many basic domestic survival skills that I lack.
I don’t mind ironing, although I don’t claim to be very good at it. There’s a certain homely charm in the smell of the fabric as it passes under the heat. However to be honest, when the alarm goes off and I have to make the decision to get up in the sub-10 degree weather and iron my shirt, or to sneak another 10 minutes beneath my toasty warm doona, I will invariably put the ironing off. Unfortunately this means that I am normally horribly late to work.
Tonight I decided to do my week’s ironing in one hit, so I never have to face this dilemma and can glide blissfully into each day without needing to complete any unpleasant activities before my first coffee, and also hopefully not get fired.
Well, that was the theory anyway. Somehow tonight I have managed to ineptly ruin every single implement involved in the ironing process in a Rube-Goldberg-machine-like chain of destruction. I will recount to you how I found myself in this predicament.
Firstly I thought I should fill the water reservoir up. In this house, although I do the most ironing, it is always my housemate who seems to be stuck with this small chore. Although it’s a little thing, I decided guiltily that it should be me this time, as I think it’s been around four months and probably five tanks full since I last did it.
So I fetch the funnel and a cup of water and start pouring it into the iron. Unfortunately my powers of observation have failed me and housemate Josh has already filled the iron. The water starts to pool on the ironing board. I am a boots-and-all kinda guy – I didn’t think to check with a little bit of water first, so the pool of water is of not inconsiderable size.
“Easy!” I think to myself. The steam iron works by evaporating water, right? All I need to do is to run over the steadily increasing pool of water with the iron and all my problems will disappear! Regrettably not, it would appear. The water has soaked through the ironing board and is leaking onto the floor. Not to worry – I can grab a towel for that disaster after I’ve finished dealing with this one.
My problems hadn’t even begun.
Having soaked the small buffer of foam, I am now effectively ironing directly through the thin cover onto the metal. No problems – I’ll just remove the cover and fix up the foam. Big mistake.
First of all, I can see that the foam has a problem. It is soaked, and taking off the cover has finished ruining whatever integrity the cushiony foam still had. That’s OK – I’ll just iron over it to dry it off. This works somewhat.
That is, it worked until I noticed that, completely soaked and now having been run over with a hot iron, the foam has disintegrated itself through the holes in the bottom of the board. Right. I’ll just have to buy some more foam when I’m at the shops next. In the interim I fix it up with tea towels and attempt to replace the cover. After several attempts I manage to get the cover back on over the tea towels. The remnants of the foam are now completely ruined.
OK, back to ironing my work shirts. Everything is now back to OK again – my ghetto ironing foam seems to do the trick. The cover is still a bit wet. Ironing over the cover again to finish drying it off, I notice the iron feels a bit strange. I check the bottom of the iron, which is now totally brown. The plastic foam has melted to the iron.
I briefly consider giving up here, calling it quits and going to bed, however I wonder to myself what Bear Grylls would do in this circumstance. Probably eat some bush insects and make a tent out of sticks and grass. Not helpful. However, I know that he definitely wouldn’t be bested by domestic misfortune.
I look up on Google how to clean the iron. One guide tells me to put down some aluminium foil, sprinkle some salt on it, and run it over with the hot iron. I have no alfoil so I use baking paper. This doesn’t work at all but doesn’t prove disastrous. The ironed baking paper rolls up into a tube and spills the salt everywhere.
The next guide recommends wiping a bicarb soda mixture over the base of the iron. I mix up some bicarb soda and water, dip a cloth in it and rub it over the base of the iron. Now the formerly metal-coloured iron is still covered with the melted plastic foam, but also with a white film of bicarb soda. I double-check the guide, which helpfully informs me down the bottom in small print that the iron should have been cold before I attacked it with the soda solution.
At this point, I have decided to cut my losses. The ironing board cover is covered in salt. The foam is ruined. I suspect the iron is ruined. I am going to have a scotch and go to bed. There will be no shirt-ironing tonight.