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What is this ball hanging from my ironing board?

p4240046Calyx and I purchased a new ironing board recently.  Unlike any other I have seen, it came with a curious red rubber object attached to it with a ball chain.  It is roughly spherical in shape, with a hole through its center, and has resisted all attempts at analysis and experiment.

A Google search found only this entry on Yahoo! Answers, which is a mystery in itself:

  • The “best answer” claims it is for hanging the ironing board in storage.  This seems preposterous to me, because:
    • the ball chain and fastener are not strong enough to safely hold the ironing board
    • the sphere is much thicker than necessary for this purpose, and would be awkward to fit a hook through
    • it’s attached near the long edge, at the center of the ironing board, when logic would suggest hanging it vertically from the short edge
  • Another popular explanation is that it can be placed on the tip of the iron. This doesn’t make sense either, because:
    • it doesn’t fit on our iron
    • if it did fit some other iron, its shape and texture would prevent the iron’s surface from resting on the fabric, which would make it ineffective
    • there’s nothing to keep it attached there
  • Some people say it’s for the cat to play with to keep it out of the way of your ironing. I like this explanation best, but not because I think it’s true.

Any other ideas? Does anyone else have one of these?

Update: It appears to be a safety mechanism, which fits over the lever which holds the legs in place. By placing the ball over the lever, the operator can prevent the ironing board from being inadvertently collapsed by a child or a wayward limb. Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions!


Written by Matt Zimmerman

April 29, 2009 at 22:04

Posted in Uncategorized

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28 Responses

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  1. Just guessing….

    If it has the texture of a spounge, you could use it to clean the iron surface.

    Another guess… a free, weird keychain :)


    April 29, 2009 at 22:33

  2. From the Manufacturer’s website: http://tinyurl.com/d4k8we

    “# Available with cover Red Ornament, Titan Oval and Fresh Circles”

    So it’s a “cover ornament” Don’t ask, I don’t know either :)


    April 29, 2009 at 22:33

    • If you are not making fun, Red Ornament, Titan Oval and Fresh Circles are designs for the cover of the board.


      April 29, 2009 at 22:49

  3. I immediately thought of the cat, even before I got to that paragraph. But then again, I’m biased…

    You need another ball. Then you can pull up to the big Dodge truck at the stoplight and shout, “My ironing board’s got more than your truck!”


    April 29, 2009 at 22:50

  4. Can the red ball reach any part of the board mechanism when the legs are collapsed? It could be to protect a surface from X when set on a table, etc. Just a guess.


    April 29, 2009 at 22:58

    • It can reach the lever which releases the collapsing mechanism, and I thought it might be a safety feature to prevent it from unintended collapse. It doesn’t actually fit over the lever, though.


      April 30, 2009 at 09:23

      • After reading more comments, I decided to give it another try, and I think you’re right. With a little coaxing, it can fit over the release lever, and prevent it from being activated.

        Thanks for encouraging me to try harder. :-)


        April 30, 2009 at 09:29

  5. Could it be either of the following:

    a) Something you hook your cable around so that if your iron drops off the board, it doesn’t land on the ground and start setting fire to stuff?

    b) Either of the fabled “child safety and transport locks” as mentioned in the product description?

    I think the clue to the functionality is in the black plastic part. I think the large ball is a red herring, just making it easier to locate and hold onto.

    Let me know if you ever find out.

    Oli Warner

    April 29, 2009 at 23:02

    • The black plastic catch in the background holds one of the legs when the board is collapsed for storage. I don’t think it’s related to the red ball.

      I tried to find ways in which it could act as a safety mechanism (see my comment above), but was unsuccessful. I have identified a safety lock on the unit, so that one is covered. I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a separate “child safety lock” or not.


      April 30, 2009 at 09:25

  6. Actually, I find Oli Warner’s first idea quite plausible. Just stick a loop of the cable through the hole, then over the rubber ball part.

    If not, it you could probably stick a metal coat-hanger through the hole and hold some short clothes on it…

    Darwin Survivor

    April 29, 2009 at 23:18

    • I can’t fit a power cable through the hole (especially with a huge UK plug).

      I like the clothes hanging idea, though it doesn’t seem like the intended purpose. A much simpler ring or hook would work just as well for that.


      April 30, 2009 at 09:27

      • Most cable holders rely on you folding the cable in half, pushing the loop through a circle and hooking the loop over something else, so it’s held in place.

        Hard to explain in words, but that was my rationale.


        April 30, 2009 at 10:09

  7. Your ironing board has a confusing user interface. You should buy an ironing board for human beings.

    Scott Ritchie

    April 29, 2009 at 23:32

  8. From the look of it I’d say it’s so that your ironing board doesn’t sink if you accidently drop it over the side of a boat.

    Either that or the guy who did the original design has left the company but no one dares to remove it in case it performs some mission critical function they aren’t aware of.


    April 29, 2009 at 23:38

  9. I found some reference online about a “child lock” being incorporated in the ironing table design.

    Could it be that you can slide the bal with its opening over the lever that operates the height of the table, so that a child, from below, couldn’t push it upward?

    Let me know


    ps : I’m going to patent that catplaythingie-idea :)


    April 30, 2009 at 00:09

  10. Well I’m not the only one who thought of the cat theory… Is there some ironing tool/substance which it’s supposed to be used with?


    April 30, 2009 at 00:13

  11. Can it attach to the board or legs in some way to hold the legs against the board when they’re collapsed?

    12 dogs

    April 30, 2009 at 00:46

  12. From what I can see it’s a safety ball as seen in this parts list:

    Warning, heavy use of flash on this site.


    But to know how to use it, I’d suggest you contact the manufacturer:


    Stephen M

    April 30, 2009 at 01:25

  13. I suspect the chain is just to keep the red thing handy and does not serve any other function. The red thing seems to have a very specific shape and color, i.e. why make it so visible? why does it have a hole through it? My guess is that you can stick it somewhere under the board to prevent the board from being collapsed, so a small child can only tip the board over instead of collapsing it on themselves.

    James Morris

    April 30, 2009 at 01:48

  14. Tried asking the manufacturer?


    April 30, 2009 at 02:12

  15. Could we have some more pics from different angles? This problem must be solved.


    April 30, 2009 at 02:31

  16. Does the red thing have any weight to it? Could it be something to lower the centre of gravity and thus make the board more stable?


    April 30, 2009 at 02:44

  17. Considering http://www.grillbar.org/wordpress/?p=221 I am pretty sure that this is one of those cases where we must just try and operate it. Asking why its there is besides the point!

    Fx. if you detach it you have a very simple morning star! Did you by any chance miss a sign saying “Buy now and get a free morning star!” when you bought it?

    Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen

    April 30, 2009 at 06:46

  18. Does it weight like a duck ? If yes, it’s definitely a witch. A WITCH !


    April 30, 2009 at 08:26

  19. In case there was still any doubt:

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: RE: General Enquiry from Just Brabantia
    Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 13:43:18 +0100

    Hi martin,

    This is a child lock feature; it prevents a child from pulling the ironing
    table down on themselves.

    Kind Regards,



    April 30, 2009 at 13:48

    • Just for fun :

      Let the case be that there would be no child lock feature, just a plain old dangerous ironing board.

      Then :

      How could the child pull the ironing table down on themselves?
      – Would the child hang on the table in such a manner that it’s feet (his/hers) seize touching the floor? Note : no pulling down whatsoever but risk of scorched fingers.
      – Would the child run into the table with a speed high enough to topple the ironing table? No pulling down either but still risk of denting body parts.

      Neither of the two are remedied by the red ball thingy me thinks


      PS : By the way : how does the red-holed-ball work then ?


      April 30, 2009 at 18:50

      • Aah, just read the update. Jeej for us.


        April 30, 2009 at 19:00

  20. The first thing I thought of, is that its a weight designed to keep the ironing board from tipping over. It probably counteracts some balance dependency in the board design. It’s probably the result of a cheap design which lowered the cost of the ironing board. Either that or it’s a flusher thing from a toilet, and the board is designed to sit above the commode, giving it a dual functionality.


    January 9, 2013 at 10:37

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