We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Extreme Ironing?

Amanda Holland
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

What Is Extreme Ironing?

As the name implies, extreme ironing involves ironing clothing outdoors in a bizarre, remote, or unusual location. The Extreme Ironing Bureau states that the sport “combines the thrill of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

Is Extreme Ironing Real?

While EI is a real activity with enthusiastic participants, there is some debate about whether it can truly be classified as a sport. Many sources suggest that EI athletes and fans consider it a good-natured joke or a performance rather than a true sport. The EIB’s official Facebook page seems to function as an online community for hobbyists and fans rather than a traditional regulatory organization like most sports have.

There was an official competition that occurred in Germany in 2002: the 1st Extreme Ironing World Championships. A British group won the team event, and a German with the moniker “Hot Pants” won the individual competition. There is no information about a follow-up event.

Fun Facts About Extreme Ironing

  • Some examples of the sport include ironing while skydiving, mountain climbing, canoeing, snowboarding, or surfing.
  • Enthusiasts have created their own branches of extreme ironing, such as bungee ironing and underwater ironing.
  • Some EI participants refer to themselves as extreme ironers or extreme ironists.
  • In 2003, British mountain climbers John Roberts, Christopher Allan Jowsey, and Ben Gibbons worked together to iron a Union Jack flag at the Mount Everest Base Camp.
  • According to the 2003 documentary Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory, there is (or was at the time) a rivalry between the EIB and the Urban Housework group, which was trying to popularize its own sport, extreme vacuum-cleaning.

Who Started Extreme Ironing?

It’s not entirely clear who can be credited with the invention of extreme ironing. Many sources say that Phil Shaw, an Englishman, started it in 1997. As the story goes, Phil was tired after his long workday at a knitwear factory and came home to a pile of unironed laundry. In a bid to combine what he really wanted to do (go rock climbing) with what he needed to do, Phil took his ironing board out to his garden and pressed his clothes outdoors. Soon after, he and his roommate, Paul Cartwright, completed several ironing adventures while rock climbing, skiing, and climbing trees. In 1999, Phil adopted the nickname “Steam” and went on an international tour to promote his sport.

However, there is an alternate version of extreme ironing’s genesis, which credits Tony Hiam for inventing it in England in 1980. In this account, Tony got the idea after watching his brother-in-law iron his clothes while camping in a tent. Tony felt that trying to maintain ironed clothes while participating in outdoor activities was futile, and he expressed this view by purposely performing ironing demonstrations in bizarre places, such as airport terminals, phone booths, and mountaintops. Sources say that Tony carried an ironing board in his car for the better part of a decade so he was ready to iron whenever the opportunity presented itself.

What Are the Rules of Extreme Ironing?

Regulations for extreme ironing are not consistent across EI sites. According to one source, the ironing board must have legs and be 30 centimeters wide by 1 meter long. An ironist must use a real iron, and the activity must be completed outdoors.

Another source doesn’t specify the size of the ironing board but states that it must be a commercially available model. This set of rules indicates that the iron must also be a standard product. The iron may be heated by a gas cooker or a similar device when standard electrical heating is not available.

Where Is Extreme Ironing Popular?

Though EI started in England, it has become popular in many other places, especially Germany. Notable extreme ironists hail from South Africa, England, Germany, and the Netherlands.

What Is Classed as an Extreme Sport?

The Encyclopedia Britannica says that extreme sports usually take place outside and are characterized by high speeds and high risk. However, it seems that not everyone agrees on which activities count as extreme sports. Nowadays, the term is also used to describe unconventional or weird sports, even those that aren’t inherently high-risk.

Whether or not it should be classified as a sport (extreme or otherwise), extreme ironing is certainly an intriguing activity. The next time you are faced with a mountain of wrinkled clothes, consider taking your ironing to the extreme, even if it’s just by bringing your iron and board out to your backyard.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Amanda Holland
By Amanda Holland
With career experiences that have used both math and grammar, Amanda Holland is a freelance writer and Sports n' Hobbies contributor. She spent several years as a signals analyst for the Defense Department, creating and editing reports for the intelligence community. After having two children, Amanda transitioned to freelance writing, allowing her to balance her passion for crafting content with her family life. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, and playing video games.
Discussion Comments
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland
With career experiences that have used both math and grammar, Amanda Holland is a freelance writer and Sports n' Hobbies...
Learn more
On this page
Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.