How to Clean an Iron From Soleplate to Steam Holes

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Jennifer L. Betts Jennifer L. Betts

Jennifer worked for five years as a housekeeper in a large hotel chain. In that capacity, she learned how to clean just about anything.

iron

Freshly ironed clothes look crisp and properly cleaning your iron keeps them that way. From general grime to lime to sticky messes, an iron needs regular cleaning to keep your clothing in top shape.

How to Clean an Iron Thoroughly

Gather your supplies and clean the iron from top to bottom.

Supplies

  • Distilled water
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste
  • Dish soap
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Cotton swabs
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush

Important Notes Before You Begin

Before starting your regular cleaning, make sure you follow both iron and electrical safety precautions. Only plug the iron in when directed. Otherwise, you risk injury to yourself, iron, and home. Read your iron's owner manual to ensure you follow all safety directions and cleaning instructions; do not use any homemade cleaners against manufacturer recommendations.

Step 1: How to Clean Steam Holes

Start with the iron unplugged and turned off.

  1. Mix together 1 cup of distilled water and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  2. Pour into the iron's steam reservoir.
  3. Plug in the iron and turn the steam function on, allowing it to run until the mixture has evaporated. Supervise your iron during this process.
  4. Turn the iron off, unplug it, and allow it to cool until just slightly warm.
  5. Use cotton swaps to wipe out any remaining residue in the holes.

Step 2: How to Clean the Bottom of Iron

The iron should be unplugged and turned off. It may be slightly warm, but not hot.

  1. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the bottom of the iron after it has cooled from the vinegar and water steam.
  2. If there is still residue on the bottom, mix more vinegar and water together and wipe down again.
  3. Alternatively, you may want to try a dab of toothpaste with some water to wipe down the bottom of the iron.

Step 3: How to Clean the Outside of the Iron

The iron you're cleaning needs to be unplugged, turned off, and cool.

  1. Mix a tablespoon of dish soap with 2 cups of water.
  2. Moisten the microfiber cloth with the mixture and wring it out. You don't want a sopping cloth, just a damp one.
  3. Wipe down the iron, being careful not to get any moisture into the steam reservoir or holes.
  4. Dampen a new cloth with just water and wipe down the iron to remove soap residue.
  5. Dry with a third cloth if needed.
  6. Finish by wiping the iron with an antibacterial wipe to remove any remaining germs.

Step 4: How to Clean the Iron Cord

The iron should be unplugged and cool before you begin this step.

  1. If the cord has small crevices, you'll want to dust those out first. Use a small soft toothbrush to remove dust from all the nooks and crannies.
  2. Use the detergent and water mixture from the previous step to re-dampen a microfiber cloth.
  3. Wipe the entire cord down.
  4. Use a second, water-only cloth if soap residue remains.
  5. Dry thoroughly before storing the iron.

How to Clean a Sticky Iron

Sometimes, your iron picks up sticky grime or starts to take on a sticky residue. This requires a little more effort to remove, but is still possible.

Clean Sticky Burnt Materials With Salt

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.

Clean Sticky 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.

How to Clean a Scorched Iron

When your iron is scorched, you don't have to throw it away. Instead, try one of several methods to clean a scorched iron. From traditional cleaning agents like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and various soaps to more unusual methods like nail polish remover, metal polish, and/or candle wax, you can try several options to take care of your scorched iron.

Iron Maintenance Done Regularly

Once you learn how to clean an iron, be sure to maintain a regular sanitizing schedule. Make sure you don't overfill the steam reservoir and wipe off the iron after it cools before returning it to storage. Routine iron cleaning is essential to maintaining crisply ironed clothes.

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How to Clean an Iron From Soleplate to Steam Holes