Extreme ironing

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Extreme ironing in Rivelin Rocks, UK

Extreme ironing is an extreme sport carried out exclusively outdoors with the aim of ironing laundry using a hot iron and an ironing board , even under the most demanding climatic, geographical and physical conditions .



The sport was born in 1997 in Leicester (Great Britain). The factory worker and mountaineer Phillip Shaw was tired of spending the day doing housework at home and decided without further ado to go on a mountain hike complete with clothes and iron. Together with Paul Nicks, who also liked this unusual idea, further tours followed. Over the months, more and more people joined the two pioneers of extreme ironing, packing their clothes with ironing boards and irons in increasingly unusual places.

Beginnings in Germany

The founder of the German extreme ironers, Kai “Hot Crease” Zosseder, met the inventor Phillip Shaw on a trip to New Zealand in 2000 and was an immediate enthusiastic fan. Back in Germany, he founded the German Extreme Ironing Section (GEIS) in Munich that same year , which two years later organized the first world championship. In a cultural context, Extreme Ironing presented itself to the public for the first time with a documentary film and a live performance at the KINO24 cultural festival in April 2001 in Munich.

Media and sponsorship

Due to the strong event character with pronounced performance elements and not least because of the unusual idea, the sport quickly found a lot of media coverage, which accelerated the spread of this new sport. However, for the same reasons, extreme ironing is often portrayed in the media as pure fun sport , although the actors practice the sport with great seriousness, intensive preparation, athletic endurance and not inconsiderable risks, as can be seen in particular with underwater and high alpine ironing (see also : World records).

In response to the ongoing reporting, the sport was sponsored by well-known detergent and iron manufacturers and successfully used as a marketing platform.


Iron and ironing board must be carried on your body during the entire competition.


Commercially available irons are used for ironing. In places where no electrical power supply is available or cannot be used due to moisture, the heating plate is heated by auxiliary structures (mostly gas cookers ). For the World Cup, a process was developed in which the iron inside is heated by an exothermic reaction , created by mixing a hygroscopic chemical pressed into granules with water.

Ironing board

The ironing board should also be commercially available, i.e. consist of a covered ironing table and a substructure to put it down. Only in exceptional cases such as the (unacceptable under aviation law) Airstyle ironing in ultralight aircraft and for base jumping are shortened custom-made products used due to the high wind speeds.


This still young sport continues to produce new disciplines and interesting developments that are rapidly spreading worldwide and are finding new followers via the Internet.

  • Rocky Style describes the discipline that is practiced in the (high) mountains, on steep slopes and climbing walls. It usually consists of overcoming large differences in altitude with an iron and ironing board in a pathless mountainous landscape.
  • Water Style summarizes all sporting activities that take place on, in and under water. In particular, underwater ironing with diving equipment has established itself as a sporting competition.
  • Urban style : ironing in an urban environment, preferably in exposed locations and buildings.
  • Forest Style : Ironing in the forest, on or on trees, with strict attention to environmental protection and in harmony with the vegetation.
  • Synchronous ironing : the team sport among the disciplines. The coordination of movement with the other members of the group is of crucial importance. Synchronous ironing can be combined with all other disciplines.
  • Freestyle : This term is understood to mean all disciplines that cannot be classified under the above categories (such as eso and air style ironing).
  • Air style : in microlight aircraft and base jumping
  • Tourism style : in tourist places among as many people as possible


World Championship

On September 21, 2002 the first world championship took place in the village of Valley south of Munich . Accompanied by worldwide media interest, 75 extreme ironers from nine nations took part, including participants from Austria, Australia, Croatia, Chile, Germany and Great Britain.

At the world championship, an approximately three-kilometer-long course had to be mastered on which the following five (main) disciplines of extreme ironing had to be completed at fixed points:

  • Forest style in the upstream forest,
  • Water style in the Mangfall mountain stream ,
  • Rocky style in an artificial climbing wall for insurance reasons with the help of safety harnesses,
  • Urban style using a house facade (with protrusions and windows) and an unprepared vehicle and
  • Freestyle for free choreographic design. Only in this discipline could the help of third parties be used, provided that they did not have direct contact with the iron.

At each station, the complexity and individuality of the performance as well as the crease resistance of the shirts were assessed by a previously named jury (including five German housekeepers). The winner was determined by adding the individual results to the time required to complete the course.

Inga “Hot Pants” Kosak from Germany won the first world championship. Second place went to the Austrian extreme bailiff Schnatzl, third went to German Andreas Ortlieb.

Rowenta Trophy

In 2003 the Rowenta Trophy, organized by the English Extreme Ironing Bureau , was won by the South African Troye Wallet, who roped over a 300 m deep gorge in the Wolfberg Cracks ( South Africa ).

World records

The recent development of the sport has produced some formidable world records. The trend began when the two British extreme ironers John Roberts and Ben Gibbons ironed at the base camp of Mount Everest at an altitude of 5,400 m and then carried the fresh laundry up to the summit. This record was broken on August 14, 2003 by the South African Yster when he first ironed Kilimanjaro (5,895 m). The height record is currently held by "Iron Man" Carrick, who ironed on the top of America's highest mountain, Aconcagua (6,961 m) in the Argentine Andes .

The underwater record for extreme ironing is held by Louise "Dive Girl" Trewavas with a depth of 137 m, set at the Blue Hole diving spot near the fishing village of Dahab ( Egypt ) in April 2003.

On April 18, 2004, Matthew "Crease Lightnin '" Hearne from Leeds (Great Britain) ran the London Marathon with full ironing equipment in a time of 4 hours 8 minutes and ironed a considerable amount of laundry.

Individual evidence

  1. Christian Sieben and Philipp Stempel: You have never ironed so crazy. In: Rheinische Post - last updated: January 4, 2008
  2. Stefan Kaiser: Until the irons glow. In: Spiegel Online . September 20, 2002, accessed December 5, 2012 .
  3. Daily archive for January 25, 2009. ( Memento from March 9, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) In: Stuttgarter Zeitung .de , published by Peter Glaser
  4. ^ Johannes Butt: London Marathon with a mountain of laundry. In: waz.de. June 15, 2010, accessed December 5, 2012 .


  • Phil Shaw: Extreme Ironing . New Holland Publishers Ltd., 2003, ISBN 978-1-84330-555-2 , pp. 96 .
  • Ironing under the Sky - The Story of Extreme Ironing , 2004, DVD

Web links

Commons : Extreme ironing  - collection of images, videos and audio files