The Secret World of Extreme Ironing

Some people take their ironing very seriously. My mother, for one, will iron anything in sight : socks, underwear, dishrags, even used gift wrapping. Ironing gives her the satisfaction of taking something unkempt and making it right.

Then there are people who take ironing to new heights. Literally. Like mountain tops. That's right, these thrill seekers carry their ironing boards and irons up the sides of mountains so they can experience the exhilaration of ironing their unmentionables in the great outdoors. They call it extreme ironing. Think I'm kidding? Wait till it becomes an Olympic sport.

OK, it may not become an Olympic sport anytime soon. And there is debate over whether it is a sport at all. But it is very real with a growing number of neatly dressed enthusiasts jumping into the fray.

It all began in England, of course, a country with a proud tradition of eccentrics. The first known act of extreme ironing was believed to have been performed in 1997 by one Phil Shaw, a factory worker from Leicester, England. As the story goes, he was an avid rock climber who came home one evening to a backlog of pressing pressing. Having been looking forward to an evening rock climb instead, he decided to combine the two activities by taking his ironing board and laundry with him. Some would call it the ultimate act of multi-tasking.

Apparently thinking he was on to something that would excite the world, Shaw embarked on a worldwide tour in 1999, climbing and ironing across South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Proving that the world was indeed hungry, if not desperate, for a new sport, it actually caught on and rival teams were formed including the German Extreme Ironing Section, the Austrian Extreme Ironing Team, Extreme Ironing Japan and the Extreme Ironing Bureau. Extreme ironing even inspired another new sport - extreme vacuuming. How long before these two are combined with, oh I don't know, say, dusting? to create a new kind of triathlon? Gives new meaning to the term "Iron Man."

Variations on the sport include taking your ironing board bungee jumping, onto icebergs, and deep sea diving. Cuts down on the need for steam, I suppose.

The sport was all but legitimized by a television documentary produced for Britain's Channel 4 and later aired on the National Geographic Channel. It must have been the mother of all slow news days.

What these "extreme ironers" don't know is that my mother invented her own version of extreme ironing ages ago when she began ironing while playing Scrabble.

Related Life123 Articles

You may truly consider yourself an accomplished homemaker if you have mastered the skill of ironing. Knowing your fabrics, choosing good equipment and learning the tricks of the trade, as well as giving yourself ample time to enjoy the process, can turn ironing from drudgery into a satisfying project.

There's nothing better than crisp, freshly ironed clothes and bed linens.  One trick that can make the practice of ironing even more pleasant and add even more freshness to your laundry is to use ironing water while you iron. 

Frequently Asked Questions on
More Related Life123 Articles

If you're someone who enjoys ironing your own clothes, you know that nothing is more nerve-wracking than ironing silk. Silk is delicate and easily burned, stretched, or otherwise damaged on an ironing board. Depending on the type of garment and the type of silk, it may take a little experimentation to achieve the best results.

Learning how to iron a shirt has a number of benefits. Although you may never duplicate a professional pressing, you'll save money and be able to get a shirt looking spiffy in no time.

When learning how to iron a dress shirt it's important that you understand safety measures regarding the use of a clothes iron, and also know what type of fabric the shirt is made of.

© 2015 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company