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How to Clean
An Iron

Blog Title Shape
June 11, 2024

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Synthetic fabrics, sizing, and starch can stick to an iron’s soleplate and create a baked-on residue that‘s not easy to remove. That residue can snag fabrics, leave stains on fabric, and even scorch clothing. If you’ve ever bought another iron because yours is too stained and dirty, this guide is for you! Learn how to clean an iron, and you can restore your old appliance and enjoy a smooth ironing experience. 

How Do You Clean An Iron Without Harsh Cleaners?

Before reaching for a commercial cleaner to clean your steam iron, try a DIY solution you can make at home. It’s eco-friendly, gentle on your iron, and inexpensive. Here’s what you need to clean a steam iron’s reservoir, soleplate, and steam vents:

  • Toothpicks
  • Old toothbrush
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Distilled water
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Cotton swabs
  • Mr. Clean® Magic Erasers
  • Dryer sheets
  • Newspaper
  • Salt
  • Nylon scrubber

Why use distilled water when learning how to clean a steam iron? Unlike regular tap water, distilled water doesn’t contain minerals that can clog up your iron. 

How Do You Clean An Iron Reservoir?

Is your steam iron sputtering and spitting? Does it spray dingy-looking water instead of fresh, hot steam? Blame all those minerals and other deposits in your tap water for clogging your iron’s steam vents and staining the soleplate. Here is a safe and effective way to use eco-friendly cleaners for irons. 

  1. Mix a half-cup of distilled white vinegar and half-cup of distilled water and pour it into the iron.
  2. Inspect the steam vents for residue or other buildup, and remove it with a toothpick or toothbrush dipped in vinegar.
  3. Plug in the iron, set it for steam, and wait five minutes.
  4. Press the steam button and hold it for 30 seconds or until the steam is at full blast.
  5. Repeat this last process five times.
  6. Turn off the iron, unplug it, and let it cool.
  7. Dump out the remaining water and vinegar.

Fill your iron with distilled water, and when it heats up, press the steam button a few times to clear out the vinegar and deposits. 

How Do You Clean An Iron Sole Plate?

When you know how to clean the soleplate of your iron, ironing is easier and safer for fabric. Start with a cool, unplugged iron sitting on a towel to catch any overflow. If deposits are still clogging the steam vents, cotton swabs dipped in vinegar will help remove them. Here are our favorite field-tested solutions for learning how to clean an iron plate

Dish Soap

If your iron’s soleplate is nonstick, it’s essential to avoid damaging the surface. Because of the nonstick coating, stains, and residue are easy to remove with liquid dish soap. Use a non-scratch scrubber to scrub the soleplate with soap and warm water. Wipe off the residue and grime with a damp microfiber cloth.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a tried-and-true natural cleaner, deodorizer, whitener, and scrubbing powder. It’s only slightly abrasive, so cleaning your iron soleplate with baking soda won’t scratch it. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of water to make a cleaning paste. Scrub the soleplate with the paste, avoiding the steam vents. Wipe away the buildup and paste with a damp microfiber cloth.

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is a natural cleaner, disinfectant, and deodorizer that will clean the bottom of your iron. Soak a clean cloth in vinegar and place your iron on it facing down. Wait 30 minutes, and wipe away the vinegar and grime with a damp cloth. Use a vinegar and salt mixture to tackle stubborn buildup and stains.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

A Magic Eraser has so many amazing usesit’s no wonder it made our iron cleaning guide! These modern sponge scrubbers can remove dirt, scuff marks, paint, and buildup on your iron. Wet the magic eraser and squeeze out most of the water. Rub the iron’s soleplate to remove the buildup, keeping your cleaning eraser damp. 

Newspaper And Salt

Set your iron to a warm setting and lay newspaper on an ironing board. Sprinkle salt over the newspaper and iron in circles until most of the salt is removed. Unplug your iron, let it cool, and wipe away the salt and loosened grime with a damp cloth.

Dryer Sheets

Like baking soda, dryer sheets are slightly abrasive, so they can loosen buildup with the help of heat. Set your iron to the lowest setting, grab an oven mitt, ball up a dryer sheet, and start rubbing. When one gets too warm, just reach for another dryer sheet. Repeat until your iron’s soleplate shines. 

When you have the inside scoop from the pros for using natural ingredients, you don’t need harsh chemicals. Because The Maids® is one of the only house cleaning services that clean for health, we always recommend eco-friendly DIY cleaning solutions.

Tips for Maintaining Your Clothes Iron

Your appliance manufacturer is the best resource for learning how to clean an iron. But there are some proven universal tips for cleaning an iron safely and keeping it in peak condition. 

    • Clean your iron when needed, but at least twice per year or as often as the manufacturer recommends.
    • Tap water contains minerals and deposits that can clog steam vents, corrode metal, and damage your iron. Always use distilled water or invest in a water filter that removes hard deposits.
    • When cool and unplugged, fill the iron’s water reservoir and wipe moisture from the outside before plugging it in.
    • Empty your iron’s reservoir after each use and wipe moisture from the outside before you store it.
    • Store your cool iron upright to prevent leakage, and face the soleplate away from other items to avoid scratches.
    • When ironing, use the recommended settings for specific fabrics and avoid running your iron over snaps, buttons, decals, and metal or plastic zippers.
    • Because certain fabrics can’t withstand high temperatures or moisture, it’s vital to check the items’ laundry tags. If the cleaning label is missing, always iron the fabric on the lowest heat setting and avoid the steam setting

While nothing can replace the crisp creases that a clean iron creates, sometimes, a quick de-wrinkling is all that’s needed. If you’ve never used a garment steamer, you may be surprised by its versatility for removing wrinkles, cleaning, and much more. 

The Maids: Taking the Wrinkles Out of Housekeeping Since 1979

Now that you know how to clean an iron, what’s next? Check out our extensive library of professional tips and tricks for cleaning nearly everything in your home. Whether you use our housekeeping guides or popular residential cleaning services, The Maids helps you enjoy a cleaner home more often. Discover the joys of healthy cleaning when you get your no-obligation personalized cleaning quote today.

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