How to Clean An Iron: The Ultimate Guide

An iron is a household essential you can’t live without. After all, it’s the single most important appliance that can make your clothes look neat and fresh. However, it’s important for the iron to be clean too!

A dirty iron, on the other hand, can cause more harm than good. An unkempt iron can ruin your new clothes within seconds, from snagging fabrics to leaving stains and marks.

Just imagine your new and expensive dress shirts going to waste because of a dirty iron! You certainly don’t want that, do you? This is why you must keep your iron clean at all times.

The good news is that cleaning your iron isn’t as hard as it might sound. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways you can clean your iron without burning your fingers in the process.

How to clean an iron

Signs Your Iron Needs Cleaning

Although it’s pretty easy to differentiate between a clean and dirty iron, here are some signs that your iron needs maintenance:

  • The iron drags: An iron is supposed to glide on your clothes effortlessly. But if you feel you have to drag it, that means it’s due for a cleaning.
  • It leaves marks and stains: A dirty iron might also leave marks and stains on your clothes (and that’s the last thing you’d want).
  • It coughs out a chalky white substance: If you notice mineral deposits on your clothes after steam ironing them, you need to clean your iron.
  • Sticky substance melts onto the soleplate: Your iron can catch sticky residue from clothes with starch spray and synthetic fabrics, which can melt and transfer onto other fabrics while ironing.

How to Clean an Iron: Getting Started

There are many ways to clean an iron, and every one of them works in different situations. So, don’t be disappointed if one method doesn’t work; there’s always another one.

Before you get started, make sure that the iron is unplugged, the water tank is empty, and the iron plate is completely cool.

After this, check whether your iron has a self-cleaning feature and use it. If not, then you can use any of the following methods:

Ways to Clean An Iron

For Flat Iron

Here are some household products you can use to clean elbow grease and other stains from a flat iron:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a holy grail for every cleaning enthusiast. From deodorising your refrigerator to cleaning ovens and dishwashers, it can be your saviour in many sticky situations. And the good news is you can use baking soda to clean your iron’s dirty soleplate as well!

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one tablespoon of water to make a paste. Apply it on the soleplate, scrub gently for a few minutes, and keep the paste out of the vent holes. Wipe the buildup and paste with a damp cloth once done.

Distilled White Vinegar

Like baking soda, vinegar is another popular cleaning product that works wonders on dirty areas and surfaces. It’s a natural cleaner, deodoriser, and disinfectant. It can be used to clean both the bottom and inside of your iron.

All you need to do is soak a cloth (perhaps an old towel) in vinegar, place it on a flat surface and then put your iron on it with the metal plate facing down. Wait for half an hour and then wipe the vinegar and grime from the soleplate using a clean cloth. Use a vinegar and salt mixture for a tougher build up.

Salt and Newspaper

It might be a bit surprising, but salt and newspaper can also help you get the job done. However, this method is a bit dangerous (considering it involves a hot iron), so you might want to get your mittens out.

  1. Heat your iron on the highest setting and place a newspaper on your ironing board
  2. Sprinkle some salt on the newspaper, and iron over it until most of the salt is removed
  3. After this, unplug your iron and once it’s cool, wipe away the salt and grime with a damp old towel or paper towel
  4. For a tough build up, rub the surface a little

If you’re cleaning your iron for the first time, chances are you’ve never thought of this. However, you’d be surprised to know that this is a common cleaning method.

Simply rub white toothpaste (any brand) on your iron’s soleplate, focusing on stained areas more (you can use a toothbrush for that). Leave the applied toothpaste for a minute before wiping the metal plate with a clean cloth or towel.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets aren’t just for your laundry. Of course, the primary purpose of these sheets is to make your clothes softer and reduce static in the fabric, but they can come in handy in other household tasks too, such as cleaning your iron.

Set your iron on the lowest setting and rub the metal plate using a dryer sheet. This should help you get rid of stains and remove melted plastic on the soleplate. Don’t forget to wear a mitten as a hot iron plate can be dangerous!

Cleaning a flat iron is pretty straightforward; the only tricky part is ensuring that you don’t clog the iron’s steam vents when using products like baking soda and toothpaste. But in case you do, you can clean the vents using a cotton swab.

For Steam Iron

Is your steam iron spraying dirty water instead of fresh, hot steam? Minerals and other deposits in your tap water are the real culprits here. They can pollute your iron’s water reservoir and steam vents.

But don’t worry, we have the tips for cleaning steam irons too. So, before getting your iron serviced by a commercial cleaner and wasting your money, try this effective and safe DIY cleaning solution.

Products Required

To make your own DIY solution, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Distilled water
  • A toothpick
  • Old toothbrush
  • Absorbent, clean cloth or towel
  • Place your iron on a flat surface in an upright position. It’s recommended to layer the surface with a towel that can catch any overflow.
  • Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and distilled water, and fill the iron’s reservoir with this mixture.
  • Check the steam vents for limescale residue or other buildups. Clean them with a toothpick or toothbrush if needed.
  • Plug in the iron and wait for five minutes after setting it on steam.
  • Press the steam button and hold it for 30 seconds or until the iron starts blasting steam.
  • Repeat the process at least five times.
  • Unplug the iron and let it cool.
  • Empty the iron by dumping the remaining vinegar and water mixture.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, by now, you have the answer to the question about how to clean an iron!

Also, besides wondering how to clean an iron, you’re probably also thinking about how often you should repeat the process? You should clean your iron whenever needed, but make sure you do it at least twice a year.

If you’re doing this for the first time, you might be tempted to use hard objects like paper clips and plastic knives, but please don’t use these. They can scratch or even damage your iron’s soleplate. Instead, follow the methods discussed in this article for a safe and smooth cleaning experience.

Happy cleaning!