Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Cleaning the bottom of an iron is not something that many people may often think about. But knowing how to clean a steam iron is nothing but essential.
All of us want our summer and winter wardrobes to be steam cleaned within an inch of our lives and ready to go at a moment’s notice. However, we actually need our irons less steamy to get through our laundry piles more quickly.
For your steam output to remain powerful and your generator to be running as smoothly as possible, we’ve compiled an easy three-step guide on how to clean an iron so your clothes need no longer suffer.
Why Do I Need To Descale My Iron?
Over half of us confess to having never once cleaned our iron – let alone knowing how to clean an iron bottom. Some irons need descaling more than others, but on average it is recommended to descale your iron as much as every fortnight.
The harder tap water gets in your steam iron, the faster the impurities are created and solidified. If you don’t clean the soleplate (usually white or brown stains), the steam output of the iron will not be working at its best.
You could think you need to buy a new iron when in reality, you could be saving yourself some serious money by getting the steam vents back to a brand new working order.
How To Clean An Iron
It goes without saying that if you have any kind of gunk or stain on iron soleplates, it needs sorting. Cleaning of iron soleplates is not as difficult as it may sound – make sure you have your iron set to its lowest temperature first. Using a soft, damp cloth, wipe the iron plate to remove any sticky residue. You can also use a cotton swab to get rid of smaller stains that tend to get stuck in steam holes.
After this, you might find it useful to take one cotton wool bud and clean around the steam vents. Let the iron dry thoroughly before attempting to use it and make sure to check the manual for specific recommendations when removing stains from iron plates.
How To Remove Fabric From An Iron
Iron cleaning becomes a lot more difficult if you have burnt or melted fabric stuck to the bottom. To remedy this, turn the iron to a medium setting, and pass a damp cloth over the iron plate for a few minutes to draw the fibres away. Sadly, we cannot guarantee the same level of success for your burnt clothes or fabric.
How To Descale Irons
Now for the pinnacle moment for how to clean the steam iron… descaling. It’s worth noting that a lot of iron models come with a descaling system already built in, which might use pressurised steam to remove limescale from the steam vents or uses a chamber or tap to connect and flush anything needed away.
However, if the limescale is fully clogged to the point where it is drastically affecting the steam output, you may need to intervene yourself. The process should take about 15 minutes, but you’ll need to leave it for about half an hour afterwards to work its magic.
Pour equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water into your iron’s water reservoir until it’s about a third of the way full. Turn to a medium heat and let your iron steam itself out for around five to ten minutes. Fill the chamber back up with fresh distilled water and turn the iron back on to flush out any traces of the white vinegar or mineral deposits.
An alternative way of how clean the iron is to use baking soda to further prevent build up. Mix one tablespoon of water with two tablespoons of baking soda and apply this paste to the outside iron plate, repeating the same process as above to clear out those mineral deposits.
Will My Iron Be Easy To Descale?
The short answer when it comes to how to clean clothing iron plates, is research before you buy. A lot of newer models will sell themselves based on their in-built descaling systems, but some can be really tricky to use.
While some can self clean in under two minutes, another one could require something more complicated, having to soak different parts in different solutions for a number of hours.
Generally speaking – the more you spend, the easier the descaling process. There may be mandatory cleaning systems in some models so it is always worth double checking.
How Do I Clean The Gunk Off My Iron + Does Vinegar Break Down Iron?
Most people tend to use baking soda for most at-home projects, which is why you can opt for this solution for your iron cleaner approach as well. Do you want to scrub away dirt? Just create the perfect mixture. Create a stain-fighting paste with just two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of water. However, try not to get baking soda in the steam holes. This baking soda paste will clean your water tank and steam ducts. When it comes to vinegar, however, avoid using it, and rather opt for a cup of distilled water. This is because vinegar can damage the iron. In the end, always read the manufacturer’s instructions to get rid of any build-up, and to enjoy a functional rust free iron.
How To Descale An Iron Easily
In a nutshell, the descaling – or general steam iron cleaning – process shouldn’t be too painful. If your model doesn’t have an automatic descaling system or just needs an extra push in the right direction, the manual clean-up routine is mostly made up to easy to find, everyday household items. You can always use a damp microfiber cloth and some warm water to get rid of scorch marks and dust build-up.
Before tackling the big clean, have some baking soda, vinegar, cloth, and water to hand to ensure you don’t need to spend any more time or energy than you need to. With a little bit of extra effort, your steam iron vents will be working as good as new. Always put your iron in the upright position and you will prolong its lifetime.