Who Invented The Ironing Board? And When?

Who Invented the Ironing Board?
Image by MaeM from Pixabay

The ironing board is a useful piece of equipment designed to make ironing easier, faster, and effective. Little wonder it became an important fixture in many homes. But have you ever paused to wonder who invented the ironing board in the first place?

Well, this post is set to educate you with an in-depth profile of the inventor of the ironing board, Sarah Boone. What better time than this Black History month to dig in and learn about this brilliant African American woman whose ironing board changed the ironing game forever.

Profile of Sarah Boone

Born on January 1, 1832, as Sarah Marshall, Sarah Boone was a former slave before she married James Boone, a freeman, at the age of 15, with whom she had 8 children. They moved from her birthplace in New Bern, North Carolina, to New Haven, Connecticut, where they settled down live as a family. This was before the start of the United States Civil War.

Sarah’s husband, James Boone made his living as a brick mason, while she worked as a dressmaker. Remember the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”? Well, it couldn’t be truer in this case.

Why did Sarah Boone invent the ironing board?

Sarah invented the ironing board because as a dressmaker, she faced some challenges with ironing and decided to create a solution by making improvements to the design of the ironing board. This challenge was the formation of creases on clothes after ironing. However, this move resulted in better efficiency and ease of ironing clothes.

Her improved and more efficient ironing board was patented on April 26, 1982, about 9 months after she filed it on July 23, 1981. This was a major achievement as a woman and as an African-American.

It is important to note that the ironing board, or aptly put, a piece of equipment similar to the ironing board, was in use prior to her invention.

What is an ironing board?

An ironing board is a long, narrow board made from a piece of wood that can be placed on a flat surface or in-between two chairs with folded clothes used as padding and has folding legs.

Some people even simply used the kitchen table to get the job done. True, this basic tool got some wrinkles out, but it was not so effective with shirts and women’s dresses.

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Video: Sarah Boone

Here’s a video with a short summary of Sarah Boone’s invention:

Features of Sarah Boone’s Ironing Board

What made Sarah Boone’s ironing board special and more effective?

The ironing board Sarah Boone created was very narrow and curved, made to fit the clothes worn by women in those days. She put a lot of thought into this creation, as it was reversible, which makes ironing both sides of a sleeve very easy and convenient. It also had collapsible legs for easy storage and mobility, and was well padded, to make for a smooth and effective ironing experience.

Not only did this ironing board cater for women’s garments, especially tricky parts like the sleeves and waist area, Sarah Boone stated clearly that her invention can also be adapted for men’s clothes by using a flat board which would be a better fit for the cutting and styling of men’s clothes.

Sarah Boone’s ironing board formed the template for the ironing boards we use nowadays, with the narrow and curved front end, which is a constant feature across all brands and types of ironing boards.

Many ironing boards out there also have retractable legs. Interested in knowing the different types and where to get a good quality ironing board? Check out this detailed article.

Sarah Boone died in 1904, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy and gift to the world. She was buried at the Evergreen cemetery, on a family plot.

In her own words: “My invention relates to an improvement in ironing-boards, the object being to produce a cheap, simple, convenient, and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies garments.”

Thank you, Sarah Boone, for delivering on that promise and improving the ironing experience.

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