It’s time to clean your iron when you feel resistance while ironing. You can clean two parts of your iron: the sole plate (that plate on the bottom) and the reservoir (the container in the iron that holds water). Starch spray, detergent, and fabric softener can build-up on your soleplate and can, in turn, stain fabrics. A dirty reservoir results in steam vents (the little holes in your sole plate) that are clogged with minerals from the water.
What You’ll Need:
- Soft cloth
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Distilled or purified water
- Oven cleaner
Cleaning the Iron:
- To clean the soleplate: First, turn off your iron and let it cool completely before cleaning. Haley’s Cleaning Tips by Rosemary and Graham Haley suggests rubbing the bottom of your iron with salt on a damp cloth. You can also use soapy water and a nylon mesh pad. For stubborn stains, try using toothpaste on a soft cloth. Cleaning Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin recommends cleaning starch build-up with a cloth damp with white vinegar or a solution of equal parts white vinegar and salt (heated up so the salt dissolves). How to Cheat at Cleaning by Jeff Brendenerg suggests cleaning the soleplate with a paste of baking soda and water. Wipe the paste onto the soleplate with a damp cloth and then wipe it off with the other side of the cloth.
- WARNING: Never use a metal scouring pad on the soleplate since this can scratch and damage the iron.
- If your iron does not have a non-stick surface, try this tip from the author of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb: Heat the iron to the hottest, non-steam setting. Sprinkle a brown paper bag with salt and run the iron over the bag.
- To clean the reservoir: Fill the reservoir 1/4 full with white vinegar and steam the iron until the reservoir is empty. The fumes from the vinegar will be strong so be sure to open a window or door. Refill the reservoir with water and repeat until no mineral deposits remain in the steam vents. When you’re finished, rinse the reservoir out with purified or distilled water. Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook cautions against using vinegar to clean the reservoir because it sometimes causes a brown ooze to form, so if this happens try using just water.
- You can prevent this mineral build-up by only using purified or distilled water in the reservoir when steaming clothes.
- If you decide to continue using regular water, empty the reservoir after each use while it is still hot. This allows it to dry completely.
- Clean the steam vents themselves by poking the minerals through with a pipe cleaner.
- To remove burn marks: Turn off your iron and let it cool completely. Cover every part of the iron, except the soleplate, with paper. Take it outside and spray oven cleaner directly onto the soleplate. Let it sit for 3 minutes before rinsing the soleplate with a rag damp with cool water.