Most people hardly ever clean their iron and many will end up just replacing it because they think its reached the end of its lifespan. If you find your iron is:
- Spitting water all over your clothes (and on you in the process)
- Getting small salt like bits (mineral deposits) in the soleplate
- Marking your clothes with brown or yellow stains
- No longer gliding smoothly but instead resisting your movements
- Building up residue on the soleplate
Then these are the signs that it’s time to clean your iron. It might sound daunting but steam iron cleaning is actually easy and doesn’t require much time. You can even use basic kitchen ingredients which is more environmentally friendly than commercial cleaning products and cheaper too.
By giving your iron a regular clean will help to prolong its life especially if you’ve spent a lot of money on it. Here is some of the best money saving methods on how to clean an iron as well as regularly maintaining it.
1. How to Clean the Bottom of an Iron
There are a few cleaning agents you could use to clean the bottom of an iron. It may seem impossible at first and may require several tries in some cases but once you learn how to clean an iron soleplate, it’ll come naturally to you the next time your iron plays up.
These cleaning solutions can be found amongst kitchen essentials that you already have. If not, it’s very easy to get hold of and it doesn’t cost a lot either. These could be used as follows:
- With a Damp Cloth: Turn your iron on to the lowest heat setting before turning it off but don’t let it cool completely when you start to clean it. Using a damp cloth moistened in distilled water, wipe off the residue. If you find some stains aren’t budging, then use some mild washing detergent and a soft non-scratch sponge to scrub it off.
- Baking Soda: For even tougher stains or rust on the iron’s soleplate, a baking soda solution can be used instead. Just mix two teaspoons of baking soda with a bit of white vinegar to form a thick paste. Using a dry cloth, rub this paste onto the soleplate, leave for a few minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth. Make sure to clean out any paste mixture that may have gotten into the steam vents.
- Coarse Salt: Sprinkle a tablespoon of coarse salt such as sea salt or kosher salt over a clean cotton cloth and turn your iron on to the highest setting. Leave the steam function off. Then run and gently press the iron over the salted cloth which will help to remove any dirt from the soleplate and leave it sparkling.
- Toothpaste: Yes really, toothpaste actually works to clean an iron! Wait until your iron cools and then squeeze some white toothpaste (not gel ones) directly onto the soleplate especially on marked and problem areas. Leave for a few minutes before rubbing it off with a clean dry cloth. Then turn your iron on to steam and steam the cloth for 5 minutes. Turn it off and leave it to cool before wiping the soleplate down with a damp cloth.
- Tumble Dryer Sheets: With the iron turned on at a low heat, rub the soleplate with tumble dryer sheets until it’s clean. Then iron a clean towel to remove the dryer sheet residue.
If you happen to get melted plastic stuck to your iron soleplate, salt is the best cleaning agent to get rid of this safely. To do this, just sprinkle some coarse salt such as sea salt on standard kitchen foil and glide the iron over it which should then loosen the plastic enough to fall off.
2. Clean an Iron With Washing Detergent
You wouldn’t think it but detergent isn’t just for washing the dishes, it can also be used for steam iron cleaning! This method is pretty popular because it uses a cleaning solution that is found in every household which is regularly stocked and used on a daily basis so there’s no need to rush out to buy what you already have.
To use this method:
- You will need to mix a tiny amount (like a drop) of detergent in warm water and swirl it around with your hand so it mixes properly. There should barely be any bubbles produced from this concoction.
- Using a soft cloth, wet it slightly on one corner and use this to wipe all over your steam iron including all the nooks and crannies.
- Once you’re done, get a damp cloth and give your steam iron another wipe to get rid of the detergent residue. Leave your iron to dry before using!
3. White Vinegar to Get Rid of Mineral Deposits In Steam Iron’s Reservoir
Small mineral deposits can often build up inside the water tank/reservoir of your steam iron which causes it to spit water or glide less smoothly amongst other problems. A commonly used and cheap cleaning solution is white vinegar.
If you’re wondering how to clean a steam iron with white vinegar, it’s simple:
- Mix an equal amount of distilled (not tap) water with white vinegar in a jug and then pour this into the steam iron’s reservoir until it’s about one third full.
- Turn your iron on to a medium heat setting and leave it to steam until the mixture evaporates which should take 5 – 10 minutes. To speed this process up, you could iron a thick cloth.
- Once the mixture has evaporated, turn the iron off and rinse the water tank out once with water. Then fill it up with distilled water only and turn the iron on again.
- Leave it to steam again until the water evaporates. This will help to remove any lingering debris, mineral particles and vinegar inside. After the water evaporates, turn the iron off and then wipe the iron soleplate and steam vents with a clean cloth.
4. How to Clean an Iron With Burn Marks
Burning the bottom of your iron doesn’t mean it’s the end of its life, it can be saved. When this happens, wait until your iron cools down before attempting anything. Then follow our step by step guide:
- Once your steam iron has cooled, use tweezers (or something that will not scratch your soleplate) to remove any melted fabric that’s stuck onto the soleplate.
- After removing every bit of melted fabric, scoop a few tablespoons of table salt onto a soft cloth. Run your iron over the salt whilst it’s on a cotton heat setting. Do this until the burnt marks disappear.
- Turn the iron off and wait until it’s cooled down before wiping the soleplate clean with a damp cloth.
If the burn marks are still quite prominent, then you will need a tougher cleaning solution:
- First try wiping the soleplate with a cloth dampened with hot white vinegar.
- If this doesn’t do anything, then dissolve a few teaspoons of baking soda or standard table salt with the hot white vinegar and dip a clean cloth into this to wipe down the soleplate until the marks disappear.
- Then clean the soleplate with a cloth dampened with water to get rid of the vinegar smell.
5. Steam Vent Residue
Cleaning your iron’s reservoir might not be enough to stop your iron from spitting water, there may still be some residue clogged up within the steam vents. If it’s not mineral deposits stuck in here, it would be dust and debris instead. This would cause an uneven distribution of steam and heat in the iron’s soleplate.
You can easily clean the steam vents by using a cotton bud and white vinegar with these instructions:
- Soak the cotton bud in white vinegar and pop it into a steam vent.
- Clean the steam vent by rotating the cotton bud left and right to remove the debris and residue inside. Do this for each steam vent and use the other end of the cotton bud or a new one after every few steam vents.
- Once every steam vent has been cleaned with the white vinegar, use a clean and dry cotton bud to clean each vent again in order to remove the leftover vinegar.
If you want to do just a quick clean, you could also use a pipe cleaner and poke it into the steam vent holes to have a good gentle dig out of any dirt inside. It’s best not to use anything sharp like hair grips since they can scratch or damage your iron soleplate and could ruin the way your iron performs.
To avoid clogging up the iron’s steam vents, it’s a good idea to always empty the water reservoir after each use. Or if your iron has a self-clean system, try to use this on a regular basis to prevent mineral deposit and limescale build up.
Once you’ve learnt these methods on how to clean an iron, the next step is to prevent any steam iron problems from happening with regular maintenance.
You could use white vinegar on a dry cloth to wipe the surface of your iron just to freshen it up a bit. Vinegar is one of the most used cleaning solutions for irons but otherwise there are commercial cleaning agents for irons if you don’t fancy learning how to clean an iron the money saving way.
Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Top Notch Steam Iron
1. Wrinkle Free Crisp Clothes
A steam iron can remove wrinkles and creases from clothes very easily because the steam helps to dampen the fabric without getting it wet. Some steam irons won’t be very effective doing this if the steam output is low and can require many runs to get the creases out.
Investing in a steam iron with a higher steam output will increase ironing performance and having a steam shot function helps with stubborn creases. A steam generator iron would be even better as it produces twice as much steam.
2. High Quality Soleplate For Effective Ironing Performance
The quality of an iron’s soleplate is important to ensure steam and heat is circulated evenly as this determines how effective the ironing performance will be. Some cheap irons will use aluminium soleplates which tend to pull on fabrics and create more wrinkles. Ceramic soleplates are the best quality soleplates because the surface is smooth so it glides over clothes very well and spreads the steam and heat evenly.
In addition, the nose of the iron soleplate needs to be considered too. Most steam irons will have the standard wide rounded shape which doesn’t help to iron creases out between buttons, zips, edges or pleats. Thin and tapered ends are best to do these kinds of tasks.
3. Less Build Up Of Limescale
The more steam a steam iron produces, the quicker it is for limescale to build up. As a result, this will affect the performance of the iron. Many steam irons will have a built in limescale filter but it’s worth getting one with more functions such as a self-cleaning system or anti-calcium function as these are designed to prevent limescale from building up.
4. Easy to Use Water Tank
Steam irons with wide fill holes in the water tank make it easier to fill up but it’s important the water level can be seen within the water tank too. Dark and unclear level markings can cause water to overflow when you’re trying to fill it up.
Some of the best steam irons will have clearly marked water levels with transparent tanks and a fill as you go function. This means there’s no need to switch off the iron to refill which is ideal for big ironing loads.
5. Versatile Steam Function
Some steam irons have the ability to steam vertically making it ideal for steaming delicate fabrics such as silk. You could vertically steam hanging clothes if they’re too big or heavy to place on an ironing board e.g. suits. It’s great for curtains too. Although a few cheap steam irons have this function, they don’t work well when the steam output is low.