the tale of the ironing board

Rowenta iron on cover-free Brabantia ironing board

I'd had a pile of ironing waiting for me since even before the move last November. And since wool sweaters, cotton leggings, and blue jeans never need ironing (in my world), while linen shirts, jackets, and dresses usually do, I'd easily been able to postpone ironing for six months. But since the weather here in Portland has slowly crept all spring up into the 60s and 70s, it's time to pull out the linen summer clothes. The problem was my ironing board.

The last several times I'd used my Brabantia ironing board (and it's not a cheap one, mind you), I kept having to vacuum up little pieces of pale orange foam that had drifted down to the floor from the underside of the pad. Then as I was prepping to move, I discovered the ironing-board pad was even worse off than I thought, the viscose foam having essentially disintegrated and become stuck to the metal frame. While the pad had outlasted its warranty life, who knew the foam would turn into fake orange snow? So I ripped off the water-stained cotton pad and threw it away, knowing I'd need to buy a new cover (but which, where, and for how much?) and meanwhile figure out how to clean the foam residue off the ironing board. There it sat for six months.

One sometimes-convenience about living in a suburban duplex versus a downtown apartment is access to a yard. So one warm May Saturday I decided to try washing the thing, carrying the ironing board outside with a bowl of hot, soapy water. Fortunately, the old foam particles came off easily in water, with a little scrubbing and then rinsing with the garden hose. What would have had to be done in the shower with much wrangling turned out to be quite simple out there in the driveway. Soon, the whole board, top to bottom, was cleaner than it had been since its manufacture. The sun dried the metal out for me, and then I had a clean ironing table again.

But what about a new cover? I decided to tackle the pile of ironing with just an old towel laid out across the ironing board. And it worked fine. So why spend $30-plus on a new cover? I don't think I'll bother—because eventually, in a future tiny house, I most likely won't keep the ironing board for space reasons but instead use a (protected) counter or tabletop for ironing. Now that's simple.

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