How to clean an iron no matter what kind of issues it throws at you! Keeping your iron clean can be pretty simple and straightforward if you have a few easy tricks up your sleeve!
I recently decided that it was probably time for me to finally clean my iron. Well, irons actually. I have two, and they were both in need of cleaning in distinctly different ways. If that isn’t a blog post for “how to clean an iron” in the making, I don’t know what is. 🙂
I’ve always found ironing to be a really fun and satisfying household task, so I have one iron that I try to keep really nice and clean for clothing and linens, and one that I use for other housekeeping and crafting applications. Well, over time they both became dirty, even the “nice” one that I keep for clothing. Honestly, this was just because of a silly mistake that I made when I first bought this iron a few years ago.
For some reason, I was so excited to use the new iron that I put regular tap water in it the first few times I used it, rather than filtered water or distilled water. Oops. We’re on well water here and our water is full of all kinds of minerals, so they built up on my iron really quickly. It actually wasn’t much of a problem for a long time, but after awhile the mineral deposits started to loosen up and I would find them on my clothes after a pass with the iron, which was obviously a bit of a disaster. People generally want their clothes to look cleaner and tidier after ironing them, not like a giant mess with dirty streaks everywhere. Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve! You should always use distilled water in your iron to avoid this issue in the first place, but if you accidentally used regular water, you can fix it.
Always Start With the Most Simple Method First
If you don’t know exactly what’s in the marks on your iron plate, or you aren’t sure just how stuck on they are, start with the simplest and most gentle method of cleaning before you do anything else with more intense cleaners. Simply wiping your cool iron sole plate down with a damp microfiber cloth and a bit of liquid dish detergent may be all that’s needed. Often we immediately jump to looking for all kinds of complicated hacks, when some basic dish soap, paper-towels, and a bit of a rinse will wipe the grime
away. For more stubborn spots, a little bit of baking soda paste will often be quite effective, so give those ideas a try, just in case.
How to Clean an Iron with Mineral Deposits
So here’s how to clean an iron with mineral deposits if you’ve had this problem happen to your iron and they just aren’t coming off with gentle cleaning.
First, get a little bowl of distilled white vinegar and some cotton swabs.
Dip your cotton swap into the vinegar and use it to clean out each little hole on the bottom of your iron. The vinegar will dissolve the mineral deposits and remove them, even the really crusted on ones. I was so shocked to see that black and brown gunk that was coming out of those little holes! When you look at your iron normally, it appears as though the mineral deposits are all kind of white-ish, but you’ll see that there are actually a lot of darker minerals and dirt in there too and that’s what leads to dirty looking clothes after ironing. Anyway, it was gross and I was glad to see how well this cleaning process was working!
Cleaning with vinegar will help to soften the minerals, so they should be easy to wipe away, but you can also take a moment to scrub a bit with a toothbrush for a bit more of a deep-clean before moving on to the next step.
When you’ve de-mineralized each hole, fill your iron’s water reservoir and turn it on to its highest setting. Turn the steam on full blast and iron a clean, dry towel. Make sure it’s one that you don’t mind getting dirty though! That steam is going to blast all of those mineral deposits right out now that you’ve loosened them with the vinegar! Finish off by wiping with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any excess mineral deposits and avoid any hard water stains on future ironing projects.
How to Clean an Iron with Scorch Marks: How to Remove Burnt Messes
My other iron had a couple of scorch marks on it that had been there for about as long as I can remember. Scorch marks aren’t necessarily an issue if they don’t come off on the fabrics that you’re ironing or cause any staining, but it’s a good idea to try to clean as much of them off as possible, just in case, so here’s a really easy way to do it. Here’s what I do to clean the bottom of an iron.
Allow your iron to cool completely. Take a cotton makeup removing pad or a cotton ball and dampen it with acetone nail polish remover. Swipe the polish remover over the scorch marks and watch them disappear! It’s amazing how easy it can be to clean the bottom of an iron, even one that looks completely ruined with this trick.
For lighter, newer scorch marks, this actually works pretty much instantly. For more severe scorch marks, you may end up not being able to completely remove the mark, but you can remove the worst of it. What you’re really aiming to do is to remove any of the dark scorchy-ness that’s at risk of coming off while you’re ironing and getting on your fabric.
If your iron happens to have a plain metal plate, feel free to also use an abrasive scouring pad and try to get as much of the scorch mark off as possible. If your iron’s plate has any kind of non-stick coating on it though, it’s stay away from the abrasives and just stick to the nail polish remover to clean an iron’s soleplate and avoid any scratches.
Do you have any other neat tricks to for how clean an iron that I missed? Don’t forget to pin these tips to Pinterest so you have them if you ever need them!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.