The need to remove wrinkles from laundered clothes required a flat surface on which the fabric could be placed and ironed. Early accounts suggest the use of whalebone smoothing boards by the Vikings. A kitchen table or a board supported by two chairs were commonly used before ironing boards were invented.
The first U.S. patent for an ‘ironing table’ was granted to W. Vandenburg and J. Harvey in 1858 that facilitated pressing sleeves and pant legs. Many other patents followed with inventors turning their attention from irons to ironing boards.
An important patent was granted to Sarah Mort in 1866 for the invention of a folding ironing board. The patent describes her invention as “The nature of my invention consists of an improvement in the ordinary ironing board, over which it possesses many advantages. It is lighter and durable, and when extended it can be placed anywhere, and when not in use can be folded to the capa city of an ordinary board, which renders it very convenient.”
In 1892, Sarah Boone made an improvement to the ironing board which made it easier to iron sleeves without introducing unwanted creases. This can be called the forerunner of the modern ironing boards.