Laundries and dry-cleaners have become popular almost everywhere in this bustling city. Many traditional Egyptian occupations have disappeared, but some are still fighting for survival, like the "leg-ironing man," who iron clothes primitively.Now, the rural residents of Upper Egypt still take their clothes, especially woolen Saidi jilbabs (long and loose-fitting garments, also known as abbayas) and fabrics, to the leg-ironers, who have been passed down the skill from generation to generation.

With leg-ironing, the hand controls the iron and the leg moves it. This gives maximum pressure on the clothes and therefore the result is a well-ironed piece of fabric compared to the steam irons used in households and dry-cleaning and ironing stores.The leg-iron is made of pure iron and weighs around 50 pounds. It takes longer than the steam iron but does not cool down as quickly. The iron is heated over a fire for roughly 15 minutes and can iron three jilbabs before it needs to be reheated.An iron is heated in what is known in Egypt as a “babur gaz,” or kerosene stove, which is the old method of heating that later developed into modern gas ranges. Babur gaz units are still used in the rural areas and villages to heat food and make tea.

Sometimes leg-ironers built mud-brick ovens and use gas to heat the iron. Mud-brick ovens are still present in poorer areas and are used by farmers and the local bread industry. The cost of ironing depends on the type of outfit and its material. For instance, silk is different from wool. The price also differs from one area to another

Would you have your clothes “foot-ironed”?