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How to Clean a Steam Iron & Dry Iron

woman with long black hair using a steam iron to iron a hanging grey blouse

It may take a while but eventually your iron will need to be cleaned and, if you want to protect your clothes from the damage a dirty iron can cause, it’s best not to wait too long before you do this! 

Whether you have a steam iron or a dry iron, both of these appliances are exposed to contaminants and develop buildup that affect their performance, as well as your clothes. From stains and discolouration to nicking the fabric or simply not being able to deliver wrinkle-free results; if your iron is not maintained, the consequences are terribly inconvenient.

To help you get the best performance out of your iron and keep your clothes safe from harm, follow the guides below to clean a steam iron and dry iron.

How to Clean a Steam Iron

woman wearing blue button up shirt using a white steam iron to iron a hanging grey blouse

The cleaning process for steam irons is fairly simple because the major problem area is the water reservoir which can self-clean itself when the right cleaning solution and approach is applied. More often than not, mineral deposits clog the steam holes and also contribute to the grime buildup in the reservoir, thus contaminating the water and making it appear dull. Over time, the clogged spouts will begin sputtering water while the dirty reservoir will cause the water to become brownish or discoloured. This, obviously, leads to staining and spreads nasty bacteria to your clothes.

So, to deep clean your steam iron inside and out, gather up the items below:

  • White distilled vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpick
  • Distilled water
  • Clean towel

With the few items mentioned above and the simple steps below, your steam iron will be squeaky clean in no time!

Step 1

When the iron is cool to touch, unplug the appliance and place the steamer down on a clean towel. 

Step 2

Mix equal parts distilled water and white distilled vinegar; the quantity of the solution should be enough to fill up at least 3/4th of the reservoir, if not up to the maximum.

Step 3

Dip the toothpick in vinegar and poke through the steam holes to break down mineral deposits which appear as white, chalky residue.

Step 4

Clean up residue from the steamer iron head by brushing the surface with an old, clean toothbrush soaked in vinegar.

Step 5

Turn the iron on and wait a few minutes for the water to heat up. When the light indicates that the water is hot enough, release the steam for a good 30 seconds or so. Do this 5-10 times to thoroughly clean and sanitise your steam iron and the water reservoir.

Step 6

Turn the appliance off, unplug it, and allow it to cool. 

Step 7

Discard the leftover water-vinegar solution from the water tank when it is lukewarm. 

Step 8

The last thing you need to do is refill the water tank with distilled water, and repeat the steaming process as explained in ‘step 5’. This will rinse out the reservoir and clean out any remaining residue while getting rid of the lingering vinegar smell (if any). 

How to Clean a Dry Iron Soleplate

man cleaning dirty iron soleplate with pink cloth

If you notice that your dry iron or flat iron isn’t gliding over your clothes smoothly, or it leaves zigzag lines on the fabric, your ironing skills aren’t to blame, a dirty soleplate is! What’s even worse is when the iron plate turns black (from burnt-on starch, dirt and grime) as it can leave nasty marks on your clothes. Nevertheless, regardless of what state your dry iron’s soleplate is in, we’ve got some tried and tested tips to get it all cleaned up, and ironing perfectly again! Read on.

Clean & Buff With Dryer Sheets

When you use dryer sheets to clean the bottom of your iron, you get a 2-for-1 result! Thanks to their mild abrasion, dryer sheets do a great job at removing baked-on dirt while the texture and softness of the material help buff the stainless steel plate and make it shine again. For best results, it is advisable to turn the iron on and set it to the lowest heat; next, put on an oven mitt and scrub the bottom of the iron using a dryer sheet that’s scrunched into a ball. You may need to use 2-3 dryer sheets before the soleplate of your iron is thoroughly cleaned and nicely buffed!

Scrub With a Baking Soda Paste

Not only will baking soda effectively clean the soleplate of your dry iron but it will also help to remove blackness from the stainless steel. Like dryer sheets, baking soda is a safe and mild abrasive which is perfect for providing a scratch-free solution to cleaning iron soleplates. In this method, you will need to make a paste of baking soda and water (not runny); dip a microfibre cloth in it, and begin scrubbing the bottom of your iron. When you have successfully removed dirt and grime, coat the plate with the baking soda paste and allow it to dry on the surface for 30 minutes. Finish off by wipe the iron soleplate with a clean, damp cloth. 

NOTE: If you find baking soda stuck in any nooks and crannies, use a toothpick to clean it out.

Clean Routinely With White Distilled Vinegar

Keeping the soleplate of your iron clean and sanitary is important, and this can very easily be achieved with the use of white distilled vinegar only! To do this, soak and wring a clean towel in full-strength white vinegar, lay it down on a flat surface, and place your iron on top of it (with the iron plate facing down). Leave this to sit for at least 30 minutes (if not longer), and then wipe the plate clean with a damp cloth.

It really is very simple to deep clean your iron and keep it functioning smoothly; all you need is the right cleaning approach and you’re good to go! With the cleaning guides and tips shared by Maid For You in this article, you can make your steam iron or dry iron 100% clean, sanitary, and working wonderfully well again! 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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