12 Top Ways To Help You Learn How To Clean Your Iron

Have you started noticing stains on your garments after you iron them? Are you experiencing chalky burnt deposits on your clothes, which is quite difficult to brush out? The struggle is real because you usually have to pop your garments back in the washing machine before you can wear them again. 

A man cleaning his steam iron from limescale buildup

Ironing is one of the most hated tasks among households, and it doesn’t get any better when the soleplate experiences limescale buildup that clogs the steam holes from where the steam is released. At the end of the day though, it is an inevitable task! So, when was the last time you cleaned your iron? Or maybe the right question is “have you ever cleaned your iron?”. Even if you have one of the best steam irons or even one of the best steam generator irons, cleaning is a task that you need to do. Learn how to do it without fancy and expensive products. Let’s jump right into it.

Why is it important to have a clean iron? 

You need to ensure that your iron is in top-notch condition if you want to prevent spending more time than you need on the ironing board. Even the best iron starts lagging in performance after several months of use, generating less steam, making it difficult and more time-consuming to remove stubborn wrinkles

The performance is greatly impacted by the quality of water you put in its reservoir for water. If you live in a hard-water area, you can see the buildup of limescale on the soleplate after a couple of uses. Depending on the level of hardness the water has, this could happen quickly to the point that you may have to replace your iron. But, the good news is that you will see a dramatic improvement in its performance after a quick clean

A man using a steam iron to take care of his clothes

Here are the main benefits of cleaning your iron:

  1. Prevents ruining your clothes: When you iron your clothes with an unclean device, the chances of your garments getting ruined increases. This is particularly damaging to your delicate clothes because the chalky burnt deposits can compromise the quality of the fabric. 
  2. Saves time: The primary reason you would want to clean your iron is to save your time and energy. You won’t have to put extra efforts into removing the stubborn creases on your garment. 
  3. Enhances the longevity of your clothes: Believe it or not, a clean iron can keep your clothes at their finest. That way you won’t find yourself throwing them away in a couple of months.
  4. Maintains performance and enhances iron’s lifetime: Last but not least, you would not want to throw away or recycle the iron just because it lost its touch. With proper maintenance and care, the iron can perform exceptionally well for years to come. 

How to clean the inside of your iron – 12 methods that work 

When you are looking for tips to clean the inside and soleplate of the iron, you will be surprised to know that you don’t have to spend a lot on expensive cleaning products and tools. Fortunately, the majority of cleaning products that we are going to recommend are probably already available at your home

The list of ingredients you are going to need is: 

  • Baking soda 
  • White vinegar 
  • White toothpaste (non-gel is recommended)
  • Damp cloth 
  • Cotton swab
  • Clean cloth 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Towel 
  • Newspaper 
  • Dryer sheets 
  • Kitchen sponges and scrubs 
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Ice cubes 
  • Plastic knife or any blunt plastic kitchenware  
  • Dish detergent 
  • Sea salt 

Note: The list above covers all the methods that you’re going to see in this article.

A woman cleaning her steam iron with a soft cloth

Things to consider before you start cleaning

  • If you live in a hard-water area, always use distilled water because the tap water may contain plenty of minerals, which is not suitable for cleaning. 
  • Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and materials that can damage your appliance. Harsh cleaning equipment can scratch the soleplate, which can lead to rusting. 
  • Make sure that your kids or pets don’t come into contact with the DIY cleaning solutions for safety reasons.

Method 1: Use baking soda and water to clean your iron’s soleplate

This is the simplest way to clean the inside and bottom of the iron. You will have to make a mixture of water and baking soda. This is how to do it:

  1. Take 2 tablespoons of the soda and mix it with 1 tablespoon of water until it forms a thick mixture. 
  2. Take a kitchen sponge and apply the mixture to the plate
  3. Leave it for a few minutes before wiping the plate using a cloth.
  4. Next, fill the water tank with clean, distilled water and turn on the steam setting. 
  5. Take a towel and run the iron over it while pressing the steam button. This will de-clog the steam holes. 

Method 2: Use vinegar and water solution to descale the water reservoir

Who doesn’t have some vinegar around the house? You probably already know that it’s one of the most efficient solutions for cleaning that you can use for daily tasks. Plus, it’s cost-effective. So, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Mix ¾ cup water with ¼ cup vinegar.
  2. Pour the solution into the iron’s tank.
  3. Turn on the iron at the highest heat setting. 
  4. Turn the steam feature on to the top setting as well.
  5. Let the appliance heat up for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Release the steam a couple of times while running the iron over an old towel. This will loosen up the mineral deposits.
  7. Use a cloth to wipe clean the soleplate.

a bottle of white vinegar

Method 3: Use ice cubes and a plastic knife to remove melted-on (fabric) residue

It seems a little bit odd, but trust us on this! Ice cubes can do the trick when it comes to melted-on residues that have turned your iron into a really bad version of itself. Follow the steps below:

  1. Take a pan and fill it with ice cubes.
  2. Put the bottom of the iron on top of the ice cubes.
  3. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take a blunt plastic knife and scrape away the residue
  5. Use water and vinegar solution to wipe the soleplate.

Method 4: Use acetone nail polish remover to dissolve the burn marks and grime

Let’s say that you’ve done your nails (or your significant other had) and thinking about what else you can do with your nail polish. It’s your lucky day! You can clean your iron like a pro with it. See how:

  1. Pour some acetone nail polish remover into a bowl.
  2. Turn on the device and let it heat up.
  3. While wearing oven mitts, dip a cotton swab into the acetone and dab the cotton on the hot iron surface.
  4. Leave it to cool down and wipe down the surface with water and vinegar solution.

Method 5: Use baking soda and white vinegar solution

One of the greatest combinations of all time when it comes to DIY solutions for cleaning. We’re talking about baking soda and vinegar. You just can’t go wrong with them. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Make a solution of distilled water, baking soda and vinegar.
  2. Completely soak a clean towel into the solution.
  3. Wipe the appliance’s surface with the towel until it is completely cleaned.
  4. Or lay the towel flat on the board, turn on the iron and run it over the cloth.

a bottle of vinegar next to a jar of baking soda

Method 6: Use distilled white vinegar to dissolve dirt and grime

If you’re looking for a way to fight dirt and grime, then vinegar comes to save the day again. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Soak a kitchen sponge in distilled vinegar.
  2. Rub the sponge all over the bottom of your iron until the deposit starts to dissolve.
  3. Take a cloth and wipe the entire surface until it is squeaky clean.

Method 7: Use kitchen sponges and dish detergent to scrub the mess away

Every single one of you has some kitchen sponges and dish detergent lying around. No need to buy a thing! Plus, it’s super easy and efficient. This is all you have to do:

  1. Soak a kitchen sponge into a mixture of dish detergent and water.
  2. Use the sponge to scrub the surface of the soleplate.
  3. It will remove any dirt and debris and clean the steam vents. 
  4. Once you’re done, wipe the surface with a clean cloth. 

Method 8: Use dish detergent and water solution to descale the water reservoir

Take it one step further with the dish detergent and get rid of everything that has gathered up in your reservoir. Follow these steps:

  1. Mix ¾ cup water with ¼ cup dishwashing detergent.
  2. Pour the solution into the iron’s water tank.
  3. Turn on the iron with the highest setting. 
  4. Turn on the steam feature as well.
  5. Let the device heat up for up to 5 minutes
  6. Release the steam a couple of times while running the iron over an old towel. This will loosen up the gunk.
  7. Use a cloth to wipe clean. 

A jar of salt toppled over in a wooden surface

Method 9: Use sea salt and toothbrush to scrub off the soleplate’s surface

Using salt for cleaning your iron sounds a bit crazy, right? Well, you’ll be shocked by how effective this is. Grab your salt and do this:

  1. Set the appliance at the highest temperature.
  2. On the board, lay a clean, dry cotton cloth
  3. Sprinkle some sea salt all over the cloth.
  4. Run the iron over the salt a few times. You will see the burnt residue coming off.
  5. Take the brush and gently scrub the surface to remove the remaining gunk.

Method 10: Use old newspaper to remove the notorious burnt fabric pieces

We know that most of you prefer to surf the Internet when it comes to the news. But for those of you who still like to read a newspaper, this method is gold. Here’s what you need:

  1. Place a clean and dry cotton cloth over a plane surface.
  2. Cover the cloth with old newspaper.
  3. Turn on the iron and heat it up to its highest setting. 
  4. Once hot, run the appliance all over the newspaper.
  5. Repeat the process a few times.
  6. You will see the burnt fabric and other debris coming off from its surface. 

Method 11: Use toothpaste and toothbrush to scrub off the iron surface

If you have an old brush lying around, don’t throw it away! It’s the perfect opportunity to clean your iron first. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cover the cold plate of the appliance with white toothpaste.
  2. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Dip the brush into a bowl of hot water
  4. Take the soaked brush and start rubbing it all over the bottom of the iron.
  5. Rinse the iron plate, fill it with water, and turn it to its highest heat setting.
  6. Run over an old cloth while releasing the steam.

Some white toothpaste on a toothbrush ready for cleaning

Method 12: Use dryer sheets for a quick and effective cleaning

Dryer sheets? That’s right! Most of you use them for a whole different reason, but who said that you can’t take care of your steam iron as well? Here are the steps that you need to follow:

  1. Switch on the iron and keep the temperature low.
  2. Place a few sheets on a plane surface.
  3. Rub the appliance over the dryer sheets.
  4. Continue rubbing until the sticky residue is completely gone.

Apart from these 12 effective home remedies, you can also use a professional cleaner to clean your appliance. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions before you use any of the cleaning products. While you can use direct fresh water from the tap, distilled water is recommended.

How often should you clean your iron?

How often you should clean the appliance will depend on how often you use it. You are advised to clean your iron after every use. But since it is not possible all the time, you can consider cleaning it after 3-4 uses. You can wipe clean the surface with a damp cloth after every use. Keep in mind that you have to clean your iron more thoroughly at least seasonally if you want to flush and remove all the mineral deposits.

One of the signs that your iron needs a little bit of cleaning, is its soleplate. When you see a build-up on the surface or even a thin film that looks dull, then it’s your time to shine. Just make sure that before you start any cleaning process, the iron is turned off and completely cool. Even if you have to turn it on, it’s good to know the temperature level at any time. Also, there’s no need to always use the ingredients mentioned. Sometimes, all you need is clean water and a good scrub. 

How to care for and maintain your iron like new? 

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to care for the appliance. 
  • You can use baby wipes to clean the handle and buttons of the device. 
  • Keep the device away from children especially when it’s hot or when you have applied one of the cleaning solutions that are mentioned above.
  • Make sure that you service it on a regular basis
  • The reservoir has to be filled before you plug it in and turn it on.
  • Once you’re done with your ironing session, empty the reservoir before storing the iron.
  • Store your iron in an upright position to avoid any leaks and prevent any scratches on the soleplate.
  • To further protect it, try not to iron zippers, snaps, hooks, pins and other hard materials.
  • If the wire is worn out, replace it immediately.
  • When it comes to water, prefer distilled one to avoid any mineral build-up.

A woman being happy with her freshly cleaned steam iron

So, how do you feel about cleaning your steam iron now? With all the methods that are mentioned above, we bet that you want to try some of them. They’re so easy after all. Anyone can do it! Plus, keeping your device clean and maintaining its quality, is a win-win situation. Your iron will have a long-lasting life and you will have perfectly ironed clothes without a trace or a wrinkle.

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