The Power Of A Well Made Tool


We’ll call these “eh”, “better”, and “best”.

It sounds very domestic, but every week, I iron our clothes for the work week ahead. I’ve been doing this for years, ironing my father’s work clothes when I was in middle school and high school, then my own when I got a job that required something slightly nicer than jeans and a t-shirt. And after Mr PoP and I got married, I started ironing his clothes as well.

Some people might think the ironing is overkill, but when it comes down to it, there are times (work especially) when we want our clothes to have a nice crisp look to it that we never seem to get with “non-iron” clothing items. (Mr PoP looks adorable in the morning with some nice crisp creases in his khakis!)  Plus, there’s an element of indulgence to the ironing at this point in my life. We’re not people that plop down and zone out in front of the tv for hours (it feels like such a waste of time!), but if I watch a show or two while ironing, well no time at all is being wasted and I *still* get to know the latest on Jane the Virgin* guilt-free.

So I iron. And I don’t hate it (thanks to Jane’s entertaining saga). But up until recently it did take me a solid 60-90 minutes each week to do all the ironing. What changed?

We Bought A New Iron

The iron that I had been using since moving to FL and needing one for my first “grown up” job in 2006 up and died a couple of weeks ago, prompting Mr PoP and I to scour Amazon reviews to find an iron that was a good value. My old iron had been fine, a $30ish Sunbeam (like this one) that I bought at Target. But it had been rusting for quite a while and Mr PoP wanted me to consider getting something nicer.

Mr PoP looking at his computer: “The BIFL sub-reddit says the Rowenta ones are the best. You should look at those.”

Me searching Amazon on my own computer: “What the hell! They cost over $100! Do we really need a BIFL iron?”

Mr PoP, getting up to leave me with my Amazon search: “It’s your call, but this is a tool you use every week for at least an hour at a time. Don’t you want it to be as pleasant of an experience as you can make it?”

I searched around some more, ordered an iron (crossing my fingers that I made a good choice), and eagerly awaited its arrival in 2 days (thank goodness for Amazon Prime delivery!). In the meantime I borrowed Mama PoP’s iron.

Three Irons In Three Days

Between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night I used 3 irons and had a solid basis of comparison. How did they stack up?

  • The $30ish Sunbeam that I had for years was my standard basis for comparison, taking about 60-90 minutes to do each week’s ironing and about similar to irons that I grew up using or you might find in a decent hotel.  To get crisp creases and very flat surfaces, you really needed to soak the fabric a little with the sprayer before applying heat.
  • The $12 Black and Decker that Mama PoP had picked up at Ross (like this one on Amazon) didn’t perform all that well by comparison. Although I only ironed 2 days worth of clothes for Mr PoP using it, the darned thing took me over a half hour and the clothes just didn’t seem all that crisp even when finished. It felt underpowered.
  • My new $71 Rowenta (the cheapest Rowenta iron on Amazon with nearly 1,000 reviews averaging 4.5 stars) was a world apart from the other two. The steam was powerful and even enough that I didn’t need to spray each piece of fabric at all with water before pressing the iron to it. This weekend the whole week’s worth of ironing took just over 40 minutes. There were still 8 minutes left in my show**!

I honestly didn’t expect the difference in iron quality to be as drastic as it was. Seriously, it’s just an iron! How much technology is in the thing?

So while I’m not going to rush out an buy every expensive tool around, it was a good reminder for me that upgrading on items that you use often can have a pretty high ROI on happiness.


What tools in your life have you upgraded and noticed a big difference?

* My new favorite show this year. Love it. =)
** Of course I finished watching it! And now I know the identity of Sin Rostro!


Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you click through and buy an iron, we’ll get a small referral fee. 


(Mr PoP Edit-Anybody that can make an argument in the comments that a Rolex GMT is a superior tool for my new job will get my everlasting love and affection!)

31 comments to The Power Of A Well Made Tool

  • I must confess to you that we don’t iron. At all. We have an iron somewhere in our basement, but the only people who ever use it are guests! How embarrassing.

    I think this is fueled by the fact that Mr. FW’s office dress code is non-existent (in other words jeans and hoodies) and my office clothes are mostly wrinkle-free dresses. But still, I realize these are just wrinkly excuses. I have to face the fact that we’re the wrinklewoods. But, I totally agree with you on having the right tool for the job. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for top of the line. I love my KitchenAid mixer, for example.

    So, can I send you our clothes to iron ;)? This could be your new side hustle: Iron By Mail.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Great Trash Finds: Pretty Things EditionMy Profile

    • Yes, I love my kitchenaid too! Makes quick work out of so many things I like to make. I love that I can set it and do other stuff while mixing.

      We don’t iron either. My clothes don’t need ironing (that I know of), but maybe in a future time I could iron my husband’s shirts. He wears no-iron stuff, but I love the idea of buying plain cotton shirts for him. Hmmm . . .

      We just have a $30ish iron that I use for sewing. It works pretty well, but I could imagine springing for a nicer iron if I do more sewing or decide to iron my guy’s shirts. Wish we had a nice space for ironing.

      Mrs. PoP, what do you wear that needs to be ironed?
      Leah recently posted..First FoodMy Profile

      • Probably 60-75 percent of my work wardrobe is non-iron (nylon dresses, cashmere sweaters, etc). But the rest are mostly cotton that requires ironing: a couple skirts, sweaters, dresses, oxford shirts, khakis all that are mostly cotton and never come out of the dryer crisp enough for work purposes.

        Actually today’s work wardrobe is a pretty good representation of my iron/non-iron mix. Jeans (no iron, I’m not that wierd), a cashmere V-neck sweater (no iron), with an oxford shirt underneath that needed to have the collar and front touched up with the iron so they’d lay correctly and look nice around the sweater neckline.

        As for space to iron and store it all, I actually just use a little counter-top ironing board and use it on the top of our “entertainment hutch” that is about waist high. Folded up, the iron, the board, and the old beach towel I use to protect the hutch top from scratches all just take up the top shelf in the linen closet. Super easy and I’ve never found myself missing a full sized ironing board.

    • I don’t think I could guarantee wrinkle-free clothes via mail delivery, so I think it’d have to be a local side hustle. =)

      I’ve never had a KitchenAid mixer, but I hear they are amazing so we’re definitely planning for storage space for one in the new kitchen! Hoping to find a nice old-used one that Mr PoP can maintain and recondition if necessary since I’ve been told the old ones can last forever properly maintained.

      • Yes, it’s super easy to maintain — there are videos on youtube for regreasing everything, and that’s the main issue the mixers have. My mom got me one on William-Sonoma clearance — they clear out colors at the end of the season. Mine is bright orange :-)

        If you like making doughs and heavier stuff, get a pro grade one. I’ve got the average consumer one. Awesome for icing, batter, cookie dough, etc, but limited on batch size for breads. Still, I’ve found it works well for my purposes.

        Also, read on kitchenaid tips — you can use the mixer to do things like shred poached chicken!
        Leah recently posted..First FoodMy Profile

      • Kitchenaid is a perfect example of a tool that’s worth the money. I bought Caitlin one for Christmas (on 40% discount) and it was well worth it and will last forever.
        Adam @ recently posted..My Travel ToolsMy Profile

  • We go the no-iron route in my house. I’ve never been able to get the proper creases. Now you’re making me think it might be on a account of my iron (which I thought was good because it looks pretty) and not my poor ironing skills! But, because we really only iron for weddings (and my dad usually re-irons our stuff after) or job interviews (non in the near future) it’s probably not in our best interest to splurge on an iron.

    I do think it’s important to have the right tools for the job and I’m super impressed with how much time your new fancy iron took off your weekly chore!
    Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted..Can We Stick to a Budget? Our January Spending UpdateMy Profile

    • I think you’re probably right not to splurge on the iron if you’re not big users of it right now. But if you ever find it being a weekly occurence, the splurge is totally worth it!

  • I absolutely love to iron. Love it. Cheryl hates it. We’re the perfect couple.
    Joe Saul-Sehy recently posted..David Bach Helps Us With The “Money Talk”My Profile

  • Ironing? What’s that?

    Kidding aside, I am a big believer in quality tools IF you will use them everyday. It’s so easy to tell yourself “I can’t do X without buying the SuperGadget3000”.

    Since Mrs FW mentioned the Kitchenaid, I’ll use that. I have a professional grade model I was given, and I almost never use it. Despite being a huge scratch baker (bread, crackers, cereal, pasta, you name it). Part of me wants to sell it. Hmm, maybe I will.

  • I love this stuff, Mrs. Pop. An ode to objects! I am planning a series on my favorite perfectly designed things. I think I’ve got three items so far. No spoilers on what those are, but I will say recently we love our heated blanket. We’ve only had it since Christmas, but it’s hard to imagine life without it. Have to have my KitchenAid blender and mixer, too. I’ll probably also end up doing a post comparing at least three tv antennas, inadvertently, since it’s taking us so long to find one that works!

    I ironed my shirts for a year at my first job when I had to wear a tie. That was just the mode of the office. Thankfully, I haven’t worn a tie since I left that job, and now I only iron when something really needs it. There’s not much of a dress code in my office, but I still dress like a prep.
    Norm recently posted..Comfort, Style, Luxury – The Ultimate In TransportationMy Profile

    • Ooooh, heated blankets… drool… I still have the electric blanket I had as a kid, but the heat stopped working ages ago, sadly. Now when I need some heat at night I plug a heating pad in and cuddle up between that and Mr PoP to fall asleep.

      Can’t wait for the post series!

  • Funny you wrote this post, I just spent like 15 minutes ironing my dress shirts last night. Having a good iron definitely helps. When I travel to Japan for work I’m forced to use cordless irons. You have to leave the iron in the heater for a while before you can iron anything. You iron for a little bit then have to put it back in the heater. It’s a tedious process unfortunately.
    Tawcan recently posted..Dividend Income Update – January 2015My Profile

    • I’ve never tried the cordless irons, but the logic behind them always confused me. Glad they are as inefficient in real life as I imagined they’d be! On the plus side, you got to travel to Japan paid for by work, so it can’t be all that bad, right?

  • We had a kettle that cost us about $12 and used it for a few years until it died on us. When we bought our house we thought we would upgrade and buy something a bit more swanky and stainless steal. With that came a price hike nearing $100. We drink lots of tea and coffee so spending money on the kettle seemed worth it to us. Well, that lovely Kettle was louder than a jet plane and decided to work off and on. We couldn’t get it replaced or return it as it was more than a month old. Anyways we bought another cheapo kettle and it’s been working like a charm!! Moral of the story.. just because a product costs more and looks posh doesn’t mean it’s always the right product to buy. We are more than happy with our Betty Crocker black kettle and it’s quiet! I’d say $15 well spent. Glad to hear it worked out for you. Imagine all the clothes you can iron now ha!
    canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..How to Create a Healthy Grocery List: The Grocery Game Challenge #2 Feb 9-15,2015My Profile

    • True, that’s why we spend a lot of time reading reviews when buying a new product. It’s not perfect, but it’s usually a pretty good way too see if you’re getting good value for the spend.

  • Heidi

    I don’t iron (jeans and wrinkle free shirts are my thing) but I come from a family of proper Germans where my Oma ironed *everything* – clothes, bed sheets, dish towels, socks, I even caught her ironing my underwear once!! (Being late for the school bus and claiming I was late because my grandmother hadn’t finished ironing my gym socks got me some odd looks) But the only irons my Oma and mom ever bought were Rowenta 😉

  • My current favorite tool is my iPhone 6 (work paid for). I used to iron a lot more when I was younger, and my roommate at the time had a fancy iron which was amazing. You can really tell the difference from the cheap ones you find in hotel rooms, for example, where you feel the iron is actually making it worse.
    Fervent Finance recently posted..Keeping up with the JonesesMy Profile

  • I’m a wrinkle-free kinda girl. I do whip out the old Sunbeam every month or two to touch up those few things we own that require it. I do, however, sew, and now I am salivating over a better iron for sewing! I wasn’t happy with how well my iron pressed down the hem last time. But… it works. Plenty of time to worry about what to replace it with when it actually breaks down :-).

    My only good, name-brand kitchen appliance is my Cuisinart. Words cannot express my affection for it. It makes hummus! It makes pizza dough! Bread crumbs! It even grates soap for making laundry detergent!
    Frugal Paragon recently posted..January 2015 Net Worth CheckMy Profile

  • Mr. Maroon has some work clothes that require ironing. I hate it. We used to take them to the cleaners. But our frugalities tossed that out the window. He luckily agreed to take on the role of iron-er when we made the switch though. Bad part is that we let it build up so that there is a ton to do so it’s such a chore.

    I have to agree with everyone about the stand mixer. Mine dutifully kneads the crust every week for our Friday night pizza. I also love to use it for making buttercream icing… both of which are on the To Do List for tonight. I’ve learned by crust does better when getting to rise overnight. And I volunteered to bring cupcakes for Mini Maroon #1’s Valentine’s Day party at day care. Yes day care. They are three – sigh*
    Mrs. Maroon recently posted..Are You Too Chicken…My Profile

  • My wife and I were jsut discussing the need for a new iron a few days ago! Like you I had a mid-range iron I bought after college, but it has taken a beating with the kids and more use. We will have to check out the higher quality models.

    I much prefer to buy quality instead of low cost. There were some areas where I didn’t care, but have shifted to buying quality for almost anything (unless its a one-time use type of thing or a garage sale find). I am glad I bought a Dyson vacuum when I was a bachelor. It has really held up well and still does a great job 7+ years later!
    Vawt recently posted..Financial Acumen Can Be LearnedMy Profile

  • Nice post! I just finished ironing a whole pile of clothes 2 nights ago. I mean it was literally, 18 shirts and 4 pairs of pants and it took about an hr and a half. I use a cheapo iron, and a spray bottle of water. I spray then iron, spray then iron… I usually wait until my ironing pile gets big enough to make it worth getting all that stuff out, or I run out of ironed work clothes, whichever comes first.

    Maybe I should look into investing into a better iron, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet. Maybe soon though if it can decrease my ironing time.
    Mr. SSC recently posted..A balancing actMy Profile

  • Mama PoP

    Well, who knew? My ironing experiences have been mostly limited to my Dad’s handkerchiefs and my sewing projects in Jr. and Senior High school. Husbands were told in advance of the wedding that they would be on their own (one ironed, one didn’t). Now that my current iron has been rated as “eh”, maybe it wasn’t me “IT WAS THE IRON”! Actually, I frequently burned myself and my perfectionism allowed me to feel totally frustrated whenever I ironed and it didn’t look good at the end.

    The win in my incompetence (that I now can blame on cheap and unworthy irons) was that our boys ironed their own stuff from a fairly early age. They were completely in charge of their laundry at age 14, a move that I recommend to all mothers.

  • I like the Rowenta, too. When my old one crapped out, I bought a new model that disappointed. Among other things, they had changed the way the cord attached so that you couldn’t stand it up on end — you had to go out and buy an iron plate, which a) I didn’t want to pay for and b) I didn’t want to have taking up space on the ironing board and in the linen closet. It didn’t seem to have the quality of the older model, either.

    Replaced it with a Sunbeam, which I royally hated — that thing got so hot you could burn your hand on the handle. Steam function? bleagh!

    Replaced that with a Shark. The Shark is about as good as the original Rowenta — works fine, powerful steam, decent control of heat settings. Only thing I dislike about it is that it has no off button: you have to unplug it to turn it off. One could do without Big Nanny protecting us from ourselves every which way from Sunday…

    No question a quality tool makes all the difference in the quality of the job. And in the amount of time it consumes.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Sunday Morning: A moment of quietMy Profile