Sunday, March 17, 2013

Do You Iron or Steam?

This blog post will get you in hot water no matter your answer. It's a hot topic, for sure. But this is a burning question. No more puns, I promise.

There are presently three irons in my cupboard. Once was my mother's, guaranteed to scorch anything it touches as it has one setting: ON. But this was my gateway iron! I ironed handkerchiefs. And we all had 'em then. Kleenex was for colds. My dad's were easy (but big and mostly boring white). My mother's were pretty but tricky (the scalloped edges). My sister's were colorful and sophisticated. Mine were too Little Girl to suit me. Ironing handkerchiefs was therapeutic, but I think I did it only when I really truly ran out of things to do. The cord is quite frayed by now, so this would not be the iron to choose.
The other two irons have Teflon bottoms and many little jets and perforations for the steam and multiple settings. One is quite a bit heavier than the other as I thought weight might make the difference. Alas neither one iron as well as anything my mother ever turned out on Old Scorchie.

Then I discovered The Steamer. Not the little travel variety that spits and hisses at you with too short a cord. No, I mean the big mamma-jama beloved by retail establishments and photographer's studios the world over. This would be THE JIFFY STEAMER, from the world's largest and oldest manufacturer of wrinkle-removing products.
Be there in a Jiffy...

The Jiffy Steamer was invented in 1940 originally as an invention to steam men's hats. It replaced the old tea-kettle-on-a-stove approach to bending and molding felt. A garment steamer soon followed, and today the company makes 16 different models— from mini to industrial-grade. My love affair began as an assistant on photo shoots, lending a hand where needed. Speaking of hands, if you haven't burned yours on a steamer at least a few times, you haven't learned how to use one. It's part of the process.

The steamer makes short work of the most annoying aspects of garments— ruffles and sashes— and breezes through everything else. A steamer can "iron" material without mashing it down or leaving behind a dreadful shiny finish. It's as easy as ironing handkerchiefs though not as relaxing. Once burned, always alert.

It's a shame we don't have time to steam everything we put on the floor at the Lovely Boutique Where I Work, but we will always steam a garment for a customer who asks. Of course all the mannequins' clothing is steamed with virgin rainwater from the Peloponnese Mountains (just kidding). Someone named our steamer and wrote "Stanley" in permanent marker on the base.

My ongoing frustrations with finding a good iron and lack of enthusiasm for opening, closing and storing the ironing board (covered in leopard print though it may be) prompted me to look into getting a Jiffy of my very own. I was surprised to find the same Jiffy J2 used by the pros costs a reasonable $160. A lot for an iron perhaps, but not for something so quick, effective and fun to use (except for that learning curve thing).

So put me on the steam team, please.


  1. I purchased a Jiffy steamer last year and have never ironed since. I find the steamer is much quicker than ironing too.

  2. I have both a steamer and an iron. But I find that I really like ironing. As strange as it may seem, I find ironing to be soothing.

  3. Is that all it costs? I tried to register for a steamer for our wedding, but no one jumped! I would love to have a steamer. I detest ironing. I am going to go for it. It does take up quite a bit of space though...

  4. I've been jonesin' for a steamer, even though I, too, find ironing quite relaxing. Love your writing style, Michelle! I'm bookmarking your blog and will stop back by often. :)

  5. After I got my steamer, I use only it. I consider steamer is easier to use, faster and easy to take in the briefcase when I travel.

    1. You must have a little steamer, not the big mama-jama I bought. You are lucky to have found a small one that actually works well!