Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 4: Strike While the Iron is Hot

by Michael on March 25, 2010 · 0 comments

Iron Man

The irony is that his suit is permanent press. (Photo by BobbyProm)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

Yesterday was a big day. In addition to cleaning out the closet and tossing your “holy” undershirts, you began a purge of things like wheat, dairy and sugar. (It’s easier than you think. Just keep a lot of lemon juice on hand for your water and tea, and eat lots of meat but don’t forget the fiber.) You also set aside a few minutes of meditation time, and I’d like you to do that every day from here on out.

So let’s take it a little easier today. Well, I guess “easier” depends on your attitude towards ironing…

Your Home: Iron Your Clothes

File this under “skills every bachelor must have.” We’ve all tried to get away with wearing that slightly wrinkly shirt in public, and know what it’s like to be self-conscious about talking to women when we’re sure they’re noticing. I have been known to take completely clean shirts to the local cleaners for their 99¢ shirt special, just so I can have them press the shirts for me. But that can add up to a lot of cash if you’re always doing it, and there’s still the issue of that pair of pants you want to wear tonight, but they just came out of the dryer.

As far as tools, they’re pretty simple: a clean iron with steam, an ironing board (free-standing or table-top), and if you want it, some spray starch. You can also get a reflective ironing board cover to help iron both sides of a pant leg at the same time. (Aluminum foil will work, but you’ll be fussing with it a lot to keep it in position.)

The basic steps are on WikiHow, but here’s a capsule version:

  1. Always check the tag for heat settings.
  2. Use rainwater or distilled water in the iron. In an extreme pinch, use Brita or Pur filtered water. If you use tap water, you will have to throw out your iron sooner. You have been warned.
  3. Set the iron correctly for your fabric.
  4. Spray on the starch, if desired. If you don’t know what you’re doing, use light starch.
  5. Turn the garment inside out.
  6. Start ironing with the largest areas of the garment—the torso of the shirt and the seat/front of pants. Keep the iron moving!
  7. If the garment is polyester, turn it right-side-out and if necessary, lightly iron it again.
  8. Hang or fold the garment immediately.

If all else fails, go to the video. This man is a professional, but you can always pause and replay:

Your World: Plan a Clothes Shopping Trip

Yesterday you went through your closet and tossed everything that isn’t fit to wear, everything that’s out of style, and everything that’s worn out. You’ve also looked at, laundered and/or ironed everything you own. You should be intimately familiar with your wardrobe.

Now it’s time to think about what’s missing. Is your closet full of nothing but t-shirts and sweaters? Are all your pants beige cotton or blue denim? Think about broadening your wardrobe, because this weekend you’re going to go clothes shopping. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything, you want to do this exercise.

Start with the 6 items of clothing every man should own. Do you own them all? If not, you should. After that, start thinking about what you can add. Do you have only white dress shirts? Do you own a pair of black slacks? What about a lighter jacket for spring? Do you have shoes for dressy occasions, shoes for casual occasions and shoes for walking long distances? Do you have plenty of underpants and socks?

Start a list of everything you think you need. When that list is done, start listing everything you might like to at least try on. When we get to shopping day, you can buy as little or as much as you want, but the list will help you get in and get out easily.

If you need more ideas, Men’s Health has a sample wardrobe list that may help.

Yourself: Notice Details

The mental exercise today is simple: over the next 24 hours, every time you enter a room or walk outside, make note of the environment around you. Do this every block you walk, every street you cross.

In each spot, find 5-10 details you never thought about before. You can notice people, animals, objects: anything, as long as it’s outside your personal space. Do it everywhere you are, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. After you’ve made note of your surroundings, go ahead and think about whatever you normally think about, but remember to repeat the exercise when you enter a new room or move into new outdoor surroundings.

You won’t need to keep track—what you notice is not as important as the fact that you noticed it. Once you see new details, you might be surprised in how differently you look at familiar places.

See? An easy day. Perhaps deceptively so. See you tomorrow.

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