From scarecrow to neat and pressed in one easy step

5 May 2016
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?