How to Clean Your Iron

steaming iron
What You'll Need
White vinegar
Clean rag
Dish soap or laundry detergent

Cleaning your iron on a regular basis is essential to maintaining crisp, laundered clothes. At first glance, you may wonder what iron maintenance even entails. Or worse, like many people you might neglect caring for your iron all together because you don't realize it's something this tool even needs.

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.

Cleaning the Reservoir

If it looks as though small deposits are being left in the small holes on the soleplate, the reservoir of your iron needs cleaning. Typically, these deposits are minerals from the water that you are using in the reservoir. The deposits may have a white color or resemble salt.

Cleaning the reservoir requires the white vinegar and a clean rag. Fill the reservoir of a cold, unplugged iron at least one fourth of the way with white vinegar. Turn the iron on and place it on the steam setting. Steam iron the clean rag until the reservoir is completely empty.

If the deposits are still visible, fill the reservoir with clean water and steam iron the rag again.

Repeat the process until the deposits are no longer apparent, alternating between using white vinegar and clean water.

Once you've gotten all the residue off of your iron, rinse the reservoir thoroughly with clean water. 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.

TIP: Because vinegar has a strong smell, especially when it is heated, it is best to ventilate the area where you are working as much as possible by opening windows, turning on vents or fans, or keeping the door open.

Cleaning the Soleplate

Unfortunately, the soleplate or the bottom metal piece of an iron is prone to occasional build up. Therefore, the plate requires cleaning in order to avoid staining clothes or fabrics.

Begin with a cold iron that is unplugged from the electrical outlet. Use a mild dish washing soap or laundry detergent to create a sudsy solution. Use a nylon mesh pad, sponge, or cloth dipped in the solution to completely wipe off the soleplate of the iron. Then wipe the soleplate clean with a water-dampened cloth or rag.

If the soleplate is the victim of a starchy build up or corrosion of some form, you will need to use something a bitstronger. Use a clean cloth dipped in white vinegar to remove the build up. Then wipe the soleplate clean with a cloth dampened in water.

If this does not work, then you will need to heat a solution of white vinegar and salt until the salt dissolves. Using a clean cloth sipped in the heated solution, wipe the iron's soleplate clean. Continue wiping until you have removed all of the build up or corrosion. Remember to wipe the iron completely clean with a cloth dampened in clean water.

TIP: Avoid abrasive cleaning powders or scouring pads.

Cleaning the Exterior Body

The exterior of the iron should be kept clean to avoid any unnecessary transfer of dirt onto the articles that are being ironed. Simply 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.

TIP: Completing this task when you are cleaning the soleplate of the iron is an excellent time saver.

Storing the Iron

Whenever you're finished with the iron, you should empty the reservoir completely and allow it to dry out before storing it away. This will help prevent mineral build up and lessen the frequency with which you need to clean the reservoir.

Empty the water slowly by tilting the iron over the sink or laundry tub. Remember that the water in the reservoir may be hot since the iron was turned on, so be careful. Store the iron in an upright position in a location where it won't be easily disturbed.