Appearing spick and span required people to adopt various methods to smooth out their clothes by removing wrinkles. Before the invention of electricity, early civilizations from China are known to have used charcoal filled pans to achieve the desired result. This was followed by the use of cast iron flat irons which were heated over open fires, during the later part of nineteenth century. Irons which were heated using liquid fuels like kerosene and animal oils were also common.
The process of ironing was tedious and messy. Repeated heating of the flat iron was very time consuming. With the invention of electricity, a lot changed. People began to think about different solutions which would use electricity. Credit is due to Henry W. Seely of New York who invented the first electric iron and patented it in 1882. An electric iron works on the principle of heat produced by resistance to an electric current.
Working with his partner Richard Dyer, Seely realized the problem of connecting the iron continuously to electric supply. They worked around this problem and came up with a slightly different electric iron. They invented a sort of ‘cordless’ iron which sat on a stand, when not in use, heated by electricity.
By the 1920s enough people had homes wired for electricity. Electric clothes irons gained popularity across the US since they were efficient, clean and labor-saving. The early electric irons had no easy way to control their temperature, and the first thermostatically controlled electric iron appeared in the 1930s.Nowadays, steam irons have gained popularity and are widely used.