As I ironed a new shirt today, I wondered why this was. Here's what I came up with:
1. It offers a chance to literally smooth out wrinkles. I'm given untidiness, and I transform it into crisp neatness. Life isn't always this easy to simplify. Ironing offers it on an easy, intimate scale.
2. It's rhythmic. As philosopher John Dewey argues, we naturally enjoy work that entails cadence - particularly when it has some climax (see 1.). In this case, the culmination is a wearable shirt.
3. Washing and drying are fairly alienated processes: in a machine, or on the line, they're left to themselves. Ironing affords me an opportunity to appreciate the clothing: its texture, lines, colours.
4. It gives me a chance to daydream. As Herbert Marcuse suggests, modern life can be quite mechanical: regimented clock-time, wedded to shrinking possibilities of thought and action. Ironing offers time for reverie or reflection. (As long as I don't fry my shirt.)
5. It's freely done. If I were forced to do it every day, I'd hate it. But independently chosen, it's quite rewarding.