Ironing water

There are an awful lot of unnecessary products on the market. As you know, I’m a big fan of products which actually make your life easier (frozen mashed potato, grated cheese, etc) but I am certainly not keen on products which prey on our insecurities, and manufacturers who create anxieties in us by tendering products to solve a problem which does not exist.

Let’s talk about “Ironing Water” such as this Comfort example. £1.40/L to “make ironing more enjoyable! Bring fresh, outdoorsy fragrance to your ironing, while smoothing away creases and protecting your iron from lime scale.”

WHAT THE ACTUAL.

Steam irons are a fabulous invention which actually solved a problem – getting a garment just damp enough so that the steam generated by the hot iron would relax the cloth just enough for the weight of the iron itself to smooth it. But of course in hard water areas introducing any water to a heating element results in limescale build-up, so you can’t just pour tap water into the iron’s reservoir unless you’re happy to buy a new iron every year.

So it becomes desirable to find a source of softer or preferably even deionised/distilled water with which to fill one’s iron. One method is to move to Cheshire or Lancashire, but you may consider that an overreaction. An alternative is to use a dehumidifier (we have this one which at the time of writing is half price on Amazon) and use the resulting collected water.

BUT OH, you cry, THAT WATER DOESN’T SMELL OF ANYTHING PRETTY.

I refer you to my earlier remarks about “problems which do not exist” in the first instance, but if you insist … Rather than spend money and precious finite resources hoarding Comfort Vaporesse from the house of Unilever, there is a very simple solution to this problem which is almost certainly already in your house, or will be very soon.

When you buy a bottle of laundry detergent or fabric softener, there will be some blurb somewhere advising you under no circumstances to reuse the bottle, particularly for food/drink purposes. If you’ve ever drunk from an empty shampoo bottle (don’t judge me) you’ll recall the “taint” of the product on the plastic leaching into the water.

The taint is our friend today.

Next time you finish a bottle of laundry detergent or fabric softener, don’t throw it away. Don’t recycle it either, or even rinse it. Instead, throw the entire bottle and its lid (separately) into your next laundry load. In most cases the smears on the side of the bottle are enough for another load.

Remove the squeaky-clean bottle from your laundry before you move towards a tumble dryer or washing line, and fill it with water: tap in a soft area, or distilled from your dehumidifier, or poured out from a bottle of drinking water if you’re desperate (it seems that Aqua Pura at 24p/L is the softest available on the high street at around 27ppm). The water will take on the taint of the detergent/softener from the plastic bottle.

When you pour that water into your iron, the steam generated will smell vaguely of the detergent/softener you have already used to clean the clothes, refreshing the smell rather than adding another layer.

There’s an elephant in the room, which is of course that I have assumed ironing is a Thing Of Importance. Frankly, though, if you’re even considering buying Ironing Water with your weekly shop, you think so too. If you don’t iron, maybe you’ve read this blogpost with a kind of horrified fascination, and stroked your non-iron wardrobe with an affection bordering on obsession. Either way, you win.

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