Also called flat iron, clothes iron in Tagalog is called “plantsa sa damit” or simply “plantsa” if you are referring to laundry tools. Fashion today seems to have shifted to wrinkle-free clothes and fewer people are wearing perfectly ironed casual clothes. However, some clothes still need smooth ironing, such as school uniforms and long sleeves polo for men.
The history of ironing clothes dates back to ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks, thousands of years ago. Back then, various techniques were used to remove wrinkles from garments, including using glass objects or rounded stones heated by fire. The Chinese people used metal pans filled with hot water.
There is no single person credited with the invention of flatirons. The first true “plantsa” was believed to have appeared in the 17th century. Clothes irons were called “sad irons,” where “sad” at that time means “solid.” They consist of heavy metal plates with handles, bulky, and operated in high temperatures, causing damage to garments.
In the early 1870s, American businesswoman Mary Florence Potts invented flatirons with detachable wooden handles. At the age of 19, she patented her invention, which was called “Mrs. Potts’ Removable Handle Iron.” Her clothes irons featured switchable handles and two pointed ends, allowing users to work in either direction.
On June 6, 1882, New York inventor Henry W. Seely patented the electric iron and his invention became an instant success. At that time, there were already electric irons but were proven to be unsafe since they generate heat using a carbon arc. But because the temperature in Seely’s electric irons could not be regulated, they were also dangerous.
In 1892, Crompton and Co. and the General Electric Company introduced electric irons with a thermostat. This design allows the control and regulation of the heat in the iron, eventually replacing Seely’s design. In 1926, the Eldec Company, a drying and cleaning company in New York, introduced the first steam iron, but it failed in the market.
Meanwhile, the ironing of clothes iron in the Philippines started way back in the 1800s. At that time, Filipinos used a wooden roller and a flat board and ironing was done by feet. This old-fashioned ironing device is called prensa de paa (foot press). In the early 1900s, charcoal iron (plantsang de uling) made its way to the country from Europe.
To use charcoal irons, users placed charcoal inside the device to generate heat for pressing clothes. Interestingly, the Philippine Iron Manufacturing Corporation (Philimco) was one of the companies that manufactured charcoal iron. Their products were called “prensa de corona” and are still seen in museums and local antique shops.
Use plantsa in a sentence.
Huwag mo kalimutang tanggalin sa saksakan ang plantsa pagkatapos mong gamitin. Kung hindi, baka magkasunog.
Don’t forget to unplug the clothes iron after using it. Otherwise, it can cause a fire.