thoughts on mangles, old and new

QUESTION: do you have thoughts on the Miele linen presses if the linens are older or antique? Embassies use them but I don’t know…
Hmmmn, I do have thoughts on mangles in general and on the Miele rotary ironer, too. I had never actually ironed one thing in my entire life until antique linens caught my interest. For the past eleven years, a 1950s vintage mangle iron has been my constant companion. I use extreme caution with it as it is a rather basic rotary ironing machine. No bells, no whistles, no automatic shut off. When I turn it off, I check twice to be sure that I have actually turned it off. When my fingers once got too close to the heat, I learned pretty fast how hot HOt HOT! that machine could get! But I made peace with it and I learned to use it. My biggest worry now is that it will break and I will be all alone without it.

With that concern in mind, I recently (just coincidentally) asked a friend if I could visit her with a damp sheet to test the Miele mangle that she got as a gift a few years back. I’d never seen it in action. The Miele was fine. (but, sadly, not better than fine)

While using it, I inquired if it got any hotter? My friend replied that she, too, often wished that it did, but, no, it did not get any hotter than what I was experiencing on its maximum heat setting. Since heat is the single most important aspect of ironing, that was a huge drawback. And, yes, I did let it heat up for a while before I stated using it. (Because I think that modern hand irons don’t get very hot, either, I had anticipated that the Miele might not as well. I was hoping to be proven wrong.) Next, I asked if I could pause or stop the roller in order to let a monogram or a particularly damp section of cloth get a little extra heat; again the answer was no.

Because I am used to ironing on my own mangle iron and have developed techniques for using the sides of the roller and placing items “just so” on the roller, I was frustrated by the lack of control I had over the Miele. I was very frustrated that I could not pause it with a knee pedal to let a section of cloth stay in place on the heat. It didn’t seem intuitive with large large items such as king-sized sheets. Again, it was fine. but not stellar, especially for the price.

My vintage mangle is going strong after 60 years of use. I change the oil myself once a year. (although I do keep an eye on it more frequently) It is heavy and the 25″ metal roller exerts a lot of pressure on the fabric, also contributing to a wonderfully ironed outcome. But old mangles were not created equally, either. Mine is an “Ironrite” brand and it has open ends on both sides, making it easy to iron large items. The heating element is also at the bottom and the heat rises to the roller, which is heavy and heats evenly and holds the heat. I have seen other people’s vintage mangles in use and none of them have had any of the features that make the Ironrite work so well. There are plenty of the old ones out there, too. Repeat: none have the features that make the Ironrite ones so utterly useful. (someone, please tell Miele!)

So, if someone offers you an old mangle ironer for free that is not an Ironrite, it will be better for you than not having one. But if you are thinking about investing in one, I would recommend an old Ironrite. Nothing beats them.

However, the Miele is constructed so that, along with not really being able to place my fabric where I wanted to, I also couldn’t burn my fingers.


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7 Responses to “thoughts on mangles, old and new”

  1. linenmaven Says:

    Here is a really neat video of using one of the ironrite mangle irons! Wow! Everything about it reminds us of how far we have come.

    • Carla Says:

      Wow! Mary Jones is a woman to envy. With her lovely home in tip-top shape, she visits the IronRite shop in a fur coat.

      What about that bizarre silhouette of the woman hunched over the traditional board? The red background makes me think of Scarlett O’Hara with Atlanta burning in the distance.

      Image life for women back then? I love to iron, but it doesn’t define me as person. I don’t feel like my worth depends upon it. If it did, I think I would be tempted to pour myself a stiff drink, and proceed to singe the heck out of my husband’s underwear.

      Nonetheless, the ironrite folks had it right back in 1947. I am starting to loathe my not-so-hot Miele, with its closed end.

      Thanks for sharing!!

      • linenmaven Says:

        Mary Jones is a little scary to me! I am not going to be ironing wearing ruffled dresses and high heels!
        Maybe you can sell/donate/gift your pretty miele and consider an Ironrite! I keep tabs on someone who sells them if you ever want one. But even the Miele will work better than a hand held flat iron.

        also, here is another ironing maven’s thoughts:
        By the way, your recent post about ironing made me want to mention to you that I use an old Eureka “Cordless Automatic” iron from the ’40s or ’50s, which is actually really interesting. I will admit that I have not completely mastered it; it gets SO hot that I leave it on the lowest low setting for everything I do, though I expect I will get better at tweaking it over time. (I accidentally scorched a collar the first time I used it, but luckily it was in an area which is out of sight!) In all events, not having a cord to get in the way is really quite nice! It sits on a base which heats the iron from three key points; if the iron is not seated properly, the connection is broken and so nothing gets hot. It’s a clever design! It’s not terribly light-weight, and it cannot rest upright on its backside…those are the only other downsides. But whereas my first iron–a steam model–often left a crusty, salty substance on my clothing and textiles…this one never will!

      • linenmaven Says:

        Although I have never heard of this cordless iron, I do think it interesting that lots of us seek out really old appliances for our modern homes!

  2. Rick Says:

    I am curious what an old Ironite should sell for? I have one and we are starting to look for buyers.

    • linenmaven Says:

      As with anything, it depends on condition and demand. I see them sell on ebay for as low as $45 and as high as $500. In fact, ebay would be the place to check to see what they sell for these days… check completed listings and only look at what actually sold.

    • linenmaven Says:

      3 Oct 2015. I just found time to look on ebay. 28 Ironrites are available at this moment. Ones that sold ranged around $100-$150. They are not particularly valuable right now. (unless you are the one doing the ironing! I think mine is priceless!) I hope this is helpful.

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