DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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5 May 2016

From scarecrow to neat and pressed in one easy step

I've happily returned to ironing. I used to do a bit to help my mum when I was a teenager. I hated ironing then and my attitude towards it didn't improve for many years.  For decades I only ironed the absolute necessities and then I had an ironing lady who came in once a week to iron for us. But time passed, my attitude towards many things changed and now I've returned to ironing. It feels good.


Ageing has helped softened many of my long-held beliefs and things I used to think were too difficult are easy now. Most of the time I don't have to wear clothes that look good but when I go out to library talks and, more recently, when we were doing the book tour, I needed and wanted to look like I'd put in an effort.  I take my forays into the community seriously, I want to meet the people who come along and to be comfortable and look presentable when I meet them. Most of my clothes are a bit old now so if they're not clean and ironed, I could look like a scarecrow.


I have an ironing press now, as well as a good iron, and that helps keep household linens pressed and beautiful with little effort. At the moment one of my sons is staying with us a few days a week and I help him with his chef's uniforms. My soaking tub is getting a good work out and then I have a few chef's whites and black pants to iron so he looks clean and presentable at work.

The thing that helps the most when ironing is to use a good steam iron and starch. It makes the process of ironing easier, it gives me the finish I want and most of what I iron looks much better when use a spray starch instead of plain water spray.  Of course I don't buy starch because it's ridiculously expensive at the supermarket and so easy to make at home. Making up a litre at a time sees me through about two or three weeks of ironing and like all my other homemade products, I can modify it to suit my own needs.  Sometimes I add essential oil to the mix but often it's just its plain old self and that does the job nicely.


This is my recipe for starch. It can be made up as a weaker of stronger solution simply by adding less or more starch to the water.
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour/cornstarch - the one you use in your cooking
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups cold tap water
  • essential oil is optional
Add 1 tablespoon of cornflour/cornstarch to a bowl that can hold at least 1 litre/quart. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and mix with a spoon. When it's smooth and runny, add two cups of boiling water and stir well to mix. Then add 2 cups of cold tap water and allow the mix to cool. I use half the amount in a spray bottle for ironing and store the remaining half in a sealed jar.

My only other recommendations are to shake the bottle before use, wipe your iron with a clean moist cloth when you finish ironing and wash the spray bottle and nozzle throughly when you finish each batch.

If you hate ironing there is nothing that I can tell you that will help you change. Only time will do that. But using spray starch will help you get a better result for less effort when you iron. Of course the make-it-yourself aspect will allow you to use fewer chemicals in your home and instead of paying four or five dollars for spray starch at the supermarket, you'll pay just a couple of cents for a spoon full of starch and some water. For me the choice was simple. What do you do?


23 comments:

  1. How wonderful to have a homemade recipe for starch. I don't use it often, but it is good to know I don't have to buy some store product when I do need it. I love to iron, and always have for that matter. There is something warm (besides the iron!)and soothing about the experience. And the clothes come out looking so much better. It is a pity that a lot of people do not do more of it.

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    1. Hello Hopflower, my mother loves to iron I guess she passed this on to me I find it a serene and rewarding past time Donna

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  2. Spray starch is not so expensive here in the US. I don't use much of it, but I may try your recipe when I run out this time.

    Funny, I was just about to iron my husband's slacks!

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  3. Thanks for the starch recipe, Rhonda.

    I can remember my mum using a little glass bottle (quite possibly an old Coke bottle - that's upcycling for you!) which had a lid like a salt shaker. She sprinkled the starch water from this onto all of the doilies and embroidered items, stacked them and rolled them up, and then after ironing the other items would come back and iron those after placing them under an old tea towel to protect them.

    Madeleine.x

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    1. We used to do that too, Madeleine. I still do it with any new cotton or linen items.

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    2. You've provoked a memory for me too, Madeleine. As soon as she'd taken dry things off the washing line my English Granny would sprinkle each garment with scented water from a jar with holes poked in the lid as she smoothed and lightly folded them into the ironing basket.
      And thanks Rhonda for sharing your recipe.

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  4. I love to iron and think my clothes look so much nicer when they're nice and crisp. I watch chick flicks while I'm ironing or catch up on series that I've missed. It' consider "me" time!

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  5. Thank you for such a simple and useful recipe for the starch, I will use it on my beautiful old damask table napkins.
    I wear a lot of linen in summer and use a mix of water and Methelated spirits, it works wonders on getting out the wrinkles.

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  6. Ah my nemesis. I'll read this again, thanks Rhonda.

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    Replies
    1. Yours and mine both Rose, I currently embrace the scarecrow look, if enough of us do it, it could totally become a "thing" right?! ;)

      xx

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  7. I recognize the fabric that covers your ironing board. A couple of years ago I bought at Goodwill an Ikea duvet cover which I made into reversible napkins: flowers on one side and the stripes on the other. Making them reversible helps them stay flat even without ironing (a plus in a house with 11 children plus mom and dad!) Thanks for the inspiration.

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  8. An ironed garment makes one look so much more polished and well-groomed. I don't have many garments anymore that need ironing. When I was a little girl, an older cousin taught me how to iron a shirt/blouse. I don't mind ironing at all.

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  9. Thank you for your recipe for homemade starch. I have ironed my husbands work clothes (dress casual I guess) for a decade since he retired from Law Enforcement. It is button ups and Wranglers as he still works with the sheriffs dept. but now as chaplain. I like ironing as it grants me time to think about my love before he heads off to work. I am thankful that I have this moment to make sure I am a help to his looking his best.
    Jennifer

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer. Yes, ironing a great place for meditation and doing that before your husband leaves for work is a lovely thing to do.

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  10. Actual when I was little I iron to make extra money. I believe I got like a nickle for a handkerchief. Usual made a $3.00 to $5.00 a week.
    Coffee is on

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  11. I've had to get over my distaste of ironing! My husband needs ironed clothes for his current job, and although I only iron the essentials for him, the other day I actually thought to iron one of my own skirts. That is great progress for me, and I'd say now I've embraced my ironing duties ;-) The kids have a little play ironing board, and they love to iron and fold little blankets and such as I do my work, so perhaps I haven't passed down my not-so-joyful ironing attitude! Thank you for the starch recipe and those tips about wiping down the iron, etc. I'm going to try that since I do get frustrated by the wrinkles that don't seem to come out.
    -Jaime

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  12. The bought sprays make me wheeze so I haven't had any spray starch for years. I have been using lavender water and that helps with the wrinkles. I'm going to add homemade starch to my 'Rhonda's Great Ideas' file.

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    Replies
    1. I have a similar problem with some sprays, Jane. You won't have any trouble with this. Yoohoo @ my file! :- )

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  13. I to am allergic to many sprays and have a spray bottle with just plain water for my clothes , it seems to do a pretty good job but I will have to try the starch as some things just need to be a little stiffer. Great Idea. Judi

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  14. My mom hates ironing, but I've always found it rather soothing (apparently I get that from my Nonna--my dad's mom). My preference is to put on an episode of a favorite show or a movie, or even just some good music, and iron away, but even doing it in silence can be meditative.

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  15. Ironing is my Sunday afternoon activity. I retreat upstairs to my bedroom and put the Sunday serial on the radio and listen whilst I iron. It is exactly what my mum used to do and now I can see why! The Sunday Serial is a BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of books, usually classics, that I probably wouldn't choose to read but are wonderful to listen to.

    I must admit I have never used a spray on starch, I do find that with enough steam all wrinkles will come out. I hang all my washing to dry carefully, on hangers if they are shirts etc, I shake them out vigorously before hanging and the fold them carefully into the iron basket when they are totally dry. Our washing machine is plumbed into a hot water feed which means that coupled with the careful hanging it reduces the wrinkles considerably, thereby reducing the ironing needed too! (Our washing is warm when it comes out of the machine whereas it always used to be cold when plumbed into a cold water feed)

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  16. Thanks Rhonda..for the recipe of starch solution? Here in India we have a person coming in every other day to collect and iron our clothes.but as days pass it's getting more and more expensive getting this done, so I iron part of the clothes myself giving those which need heavy ironing to him .

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  17. Thanks for this recipe. I will definitely be using it!

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