Ironing, starching, healthy and wise

Tough words first — convenience is awesome, and easy things are awesome, but they cost.

Dry cleaning is convenient, other than being unaffordable, but the cost is that you bring toxic chemicals home and bury your wife’s and kid’s heads in them every day when you come home from work and hug them.

Let’s consider the old-fashioned way, even if it’s less convenient. With ironing and home-starching, you save money, and stay healthy!

Starting with the table…you need a table to iron on. Consider making or getting a surface that is wider than the traditional ironing board. The traditional width is 13 inches. Why not get one that is 19 inches or more? Take one more annoyance out of your life — move the fabric less / iron faster.

Big Board Enterprises offers an amazing ironing board – one that will last forever! It is called the folding big board. It is very expensive, but it is legit, made of high density birch wood that doesn’t retain moisture, and with 100% cotton Hobbs batting that will not melt (polyester fiber melts and turns into plastic under high heat from the iron). It is a thin batting that will not cause wrinkles and bumps.

More options:

Ask the ironing board company – did they coat the ironing board cover with fluorinated chemicals? These chemicals are virtually ‘unbreakable’. They are labeled as ‘forever chemicals’. Corporations invented these chemicals in the 1970s…specifically, Dupont created “TC-8″…8 carbon atoms with a fluoride atom at the end. They called it….Teflon!

Dupont recognized that Teflon was toxic, after the women working on the Teflon assembly line birthed babies with a missing nostril and deformed eyes. They transitioned the women to other duties for a year. During that year, Dupont created a small number of teflon-infused cigarettes, and gifted them to a number of employees, who became ill / were hospitalized after smoking them. Dupont wanted more evidence that their chemical was toxic….so they conducted various animal ‘studies’. It was obvious from the study results that Teflon is toxic to life. However, as is typical of corporations and greedy men, Dupont shoved their discoveries in a dark hole somewhere, put the women back on the Teflon assembly line, and continued to dump the industrial waste from their Teflon manufacturing into the Ohio river, and eventually in landfills as well, polluting the water, for…forever.

After that, more companies started using this ‘magical’ chemical….3M used it to make your couches resist water and stains, and your carpet too, and other companies used it to make your shoes and jackets waterproof or repellant, and airlines spray it on their airplanes to make them resistant to water and ice, and firefighter jackets and gear are coated with it….on and on and on…

These fluorinated chemicals polluted our water and air, and now exists in you and in me, and in every polar bear, and every baby. One lawyer discovered Dupont’s dirty secret, and fought back (Dark Waters) and one woman won’t let companies get away with replacing it with slightly different chemistry formulations of the same poison (Arlene Blum), and some of us are starting to rub the rheum from our eyes and look at the morning sun…

….I digress…back to ironing boards.

The only non-toxic cover I know about is sold by Sonoma Wool Co. – All-Natural Ironing Board Cover $20. Their cover is designed to fit standard-sized ironing boards that are 54″–56″ long by 14”–19″ wide. The actual dimensions are 58.5” x 20.5″.

Next, take a look at the pad underneath the cover. Is it foam? If so, consider switching it out with a wool felt pad…you don’t know what’s in that foam, and as you will be heating this foam over and over again, it’s not a great material choice. Here are the companies I considered and the prices for a pad that would fit the ironing board above.


  • If using a board with a metal holed platform, use Sonoma Wool Company – $75, 3/8″ thick, organic, processed without chemicals, USA made
  • If using a solid wood top, use Hobbs 100% cotton batting. Check to make sure the description of the product says “no scrim” used, if you care about avoiding plastic fibers. Scrim refers to polyester fibers added to the cotton to ‘stabilize’ it.


I think Hobbs 100% cotton batting is the best option as it is affordable and thin, but if you need something thicker, the pad from Sonoma Wool Co. is designed specifically for ironing boards.

Finally, you have to choose an iron. People today seem to love steam irons. What I’ve found is that steam irons seem to have a lot of problems, and if you forget to remove the water when you’re done ironing each time, the iron develops corrosion issues, and may stain your clothes permanently at some point (this happened to me – horrible!). It seems simpler to use an iron without water inside. Achieve a steam effect by spraying water on the shirt with a spray bottle.

If you want to starch your shirts, it is easy to do by boiling cornstarch in water, and then adding some rubbing alcohol to make the mixture shelf stable. My great-grandmother probably made this type of mixture, poured it into a tub, and dipped my great-grandfather’s shirt in the mixture, wrung it out, and pressed it with an iron. Today, we can use a spray bottle.

  • Heat 3 cups of water with 1 T of cornstarch
  • When cool, add 2 ounces of rubbing alcohol.
  • If you want a more stiff starch, start again, adding more cornstarch until the recipe is right for you.
  • Add to a spray bottle.

The following video shows an excellent way to iron dress shirts!

Happy ironing, without toxins!

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