How to Clean Your Iron

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Cleaning your iron on a regular basis is essential to maintaining your clothes, as well as the iron. Fortunately, cleaning the iron is no more difficult than cleaning most other small appliances. All it takes is a little bit of time and a few simple tools.
Adapted from "Alterations & Repairs: 200 Q&A: Questions Answered on Everything from Mending to Makeovers" by Nan L. Ides, published by Barron's Educational Series.


Step 1

Place a small amount of a nonabrasive cleaner on a clean cloth and rub onto the sole plate until it is clean. (The sole plate is the flat metal part of the iron that you actually apply to your garments.) Use pipe cleaners or cotton swabs to clean out the sole plate steam holes. If using a proprietary brand of iron cleaner, check the directions on the packaging.

Step 2

If it looks as though small deposits are being left in the small holes on the sole plate, the reservoir (where the water is kept) of your iron needs cleaning. Typically, the deposits are minerals from the water that you are using in the reservoir. The deposits may have a white color which looks like salt. You will get more deposits in a hard-water area.

Step 3

To clean the reservoir, fill it at least one fourth of the way up with white vinegar (the iron should be cold). Turn the iron on and place it on the steam setting. Steam iron a clean rag until the reservoir is completely empty.

Step 4

Rinse the reservoir thoroughly with clean water by filling it completely and then emptying it completely. In order to avoid mineral buildup and deposits, use only distilled or purified water in the reservoir. If you continue to use tap water, simply remember to clean the reservoir periodically.

Step 5

Be careful, vinegar has a strong smell associated with it, especially when it is heated. Ventilate the area where you are working as much as possible, by opening windows, turning on vents or fans, or keeping the door open.

Step 6

Cleaning the outside of the iron is also very important. Wipe the exterior clean with a damp cloth or sponge occasionally. If the iron does happen to pick up some form of residue on its exterior, then wipe it with a mild dish-washing solution or a sole plate solution.

Step 7

When you are finished with the iron, you should always empty the reservoir and allow to dry out. This will also help to prevent mineral buildup and lessen the frequency with which you need to clean the reservoir. Remember that the water in the reservoir may be very hot.

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