How to Clean an Iron


Despite how often irons are used, very few people know how to clean an iron properly. Fortunately, the process is relatively easy and inexpensive.

How to Clean an Iron

Learning how to clean an iron will help extend the life of the popular small appliance and spare your clothing from unwanted damage. By following these simple tips you will be able to safely and effectively clean your iron without a lot of hassle.

Safety Tip

To avoid getting burned, just remember the golden rule when it comes to cleaning an iron: Never sanitize a hot iron. Unplug it first and wait until it cools completely before beginning your cleaning routine unless otherwise noted.

Regular Maintenance

Vinegar is a popular cleaning agent for irons that simply need a quick freshening. Just pour some standard household vinegar onto a clean, dry cloth and thoroughly wipe the surface of the iron. If your iron is emitting a foul odor you can mix the vinegar with baking soda before scrubbing the surface of a cool iron.

Vent Residue

Over time irons can collect dust and debris in the vents. You can get rid of any build-up in the iron vents by taking a cotton swab or a pipe cleaner and gently digging or sweeping the residue out of the area. Do not attempt to unclog a vent with a knife or other sharp tool, as you could scratch the metal plate and compromise the integrity of the iron.

Reservoir Deposits

If it looks like small mineral deposits are bring left in the holes of your iron's sole plate, then it's time to clean out the reservoir. Simply pour a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water into your steam iron's reservoir. Next, turn on the iron and allow it to steam for about five minutes. To aid this process you can iron a clean rag until the reservoir is completely empty. If salt-like deposits are still visible after the initial cleaning, you will need to fill the reservoir with water and steam iron the rag again. In order to avoid mineral build-up remember to use only distilled water in the reservoir when ironing.

Burnt Material

If you burnt material adheres iron, you can clean it by using a brown paper bag or newspaper and regular table salt.

  1. Turn on iron to its hottest setting.
  2. Place the brown paper bag or newspaper on an ironing board and pour a generous amount of salt on it.
  3. Rub the hot iron around on the salt in circular motions until the burnt material disappears.

If the scorched material doesn't come off the first time, re-salt the bag or newspaper and try again.

Starch Build-Up

To remove starch build-up from your iron's plate use mild dish soap and water. Create a sudsy solution and use a clean cloth to wipe the mixture on the surface of a cold iron plate. If the build-up is extremely bad, then use a nylon mesh pad or sponge dipped in the cleaning solution before scrubbing the iron plate.

If your iron has corrosion on the plate, then use a clean cloth dipped in white vinegar to remove the build-up. Once the corrosion is removed use a cloth dampened with tap water to wipe the sole plate clean.

Wax Build-Up

If your iron has waxy substances stuck to it, turn the appliance on to its highest setting and run it across a newspaper until the wax disappears.

Maintaining a Clean Iron

Once you learn how to clean an iron, be sure to maintain a regular sanitizing schedule. Routine iron cleaning is essential to maintaining crisp clothes. In addition, a clean iron will make pressing pants and shirts a lot quicker.

Finally, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining an effective iron. Before you throw out the box the iron came in, be sure to read the manufacturer's instruction manual carefully. It should contain a number of helpful cleaning and maintenance tips.

How to Clean an Iron