Cleaning an iron is a household task that’s easy to forget about. However, with all the shirts to press, sheets to smooth and pants to unwrinkle, it’s no wonder our irons get worn out. Giving your iron the TLC it needs can be simple and way cheaper than opting for a newer model.
There are many different ways to clean and shine your iron using some elbow grease and a few items you may already have in your home. Keeping your iron clean is necessary to keep the chore easy and productive, so check out these tips to clean an iron without any fancy cleaning products required.
1. Clean with baking soda
Baking soda is used to clean almost anything, whether it’s your household appliances, fruits and veggies or your iron. You can create a stain-fighting paste using two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of warm water. Gently rub the paste on a cool iron plate, coating areas that have mineral deposits. Wipe the paste off using a damp cloth.
Pro tip: Avoid getting the paste in the iron’s steam holes. If you manage to get it in there, use a damp cotton dipped in distilled water or a wooden toothpick to clean it out.
2. Clean with sea salt
Believe it or not, using salt to clean your iron can get the job done. Turn your iron on the hottest setting and lay out a brown paper bag or newspaper on your ironing board. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the paper bag or newspaper and begin to iron the salty surface. Continue this process until the salt takes away all the dirt on your iron. After this, wipe the salt residue away with a damp cloth.
Pro tip: Iron in circular motions to maximize the amount of dirt you take off.
3. Clean with a towel and vinegar
If your main issue with your iron is corrosion, the towel and vinegar trick will make it look good as new! Soak a towel in vinegar and then set the iron onto the towel with the soleplate facing down. Let the iron sit in the vinegar-soaked towel for 30 minutes before wiping it down.
Pro tip: Place your soaked towel in a bin or other container to avoid vinegar seeping into unwanted areas.
4. Clean an iron’s steam holes
A common problem with dirty irons is the steam holes getting clogged. A good indication of some much needed cleaning is when the iron sputters and leaves mineral-filled or rusty water spots on clothing. Mix ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of distilled water into the iron’s reservoir and inspect the steam ducts in an upright position.
Use an old toothbrush, wooden toothpick or cotton swab to clear away build-up. Test the iron by heating it up and depressing the steam button until the steam flows out freely. Let the iron cool before pouring out the mixture into the reservoir.
Pro tip: Never use metal to clean the soleplate of your iron as this could scratch or damage it.
5. Clean with nail polish remover
Not only does nail polish remover clear away nail polish, but also the gunk on your iron plate! Heat up your iron and dip a cotton ball into some acetone nail polish remover. Use a heat-protecting glove like an oven mitt and wipe the cotton ball along the surface of the hot iron. This method helps dissolve any unwanted residue on your iron. Let your iron cool and wipe away excess nail polish remover.
Pro tip: Perform this cleaning method outside so that your household doesn’t breathe in the strong chemical fumes.
6. Clean with paracetamol
An unusual yet excellent hack for cleaning your iron (especially with burnt residue) is paracetamol (like Tylenol). In fact, any acetaminophen tablet will do. First, turn your iron on the highest setting. Once the plate is hot, use an oven mitt or other heat-protecting glove to press the pill directly onto the burnt area of your iron. The pill should melt into a gel which then dissolves the burnt spot on your iron. Use a damp cloth to clean the soleplate and repeat if necessary.
Pro tip: Don’t use tweezers or pliers to press the pill onto your hot iron. One slip could result in scratching your iron or burning your fingers!
7. Clean an iron with wax paper
Similar to the salt trick above, you can use wax paper with coarse salt to clean your iron. Place wax paper on your ironing board or a cutting board and sprinkle about a tablespoon of sea salt over the wax paper. Heat the iron to its highest temperature and iron the salt without applying much pressure. The residue will stick to the salt and your iron will be good as new!
Pro tip: Make sure the steam function is off while you perform this cleaning trick.
8. Clean with toothpaste
Toothpaste not only clears the plaque on your teeth but the muck on your iron as well. All you need to do is smear a small amount of white toothpaste on any affected areas on your iron’s soleplate. Leave the toothpaste there for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
Pro tip: Finish things off by filling your iron’s reservoir with distilled water and setting it down on a towel. Steam your iron leaving in for an additional few minutes to work through.
9. Clean with dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have more uses than freshening up your drying clothes. One way to use a dryer sheet you may not have heard of yet is to clean your iron. Simply rub the soleplate with dryer sheets while the iron is on its lowest heat setting. As soon as you feel the dryer sheet get too hot, grab a fresh one. Repeat this process until the iron is clean.
Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to wear a heat-protecting glove or mitt when touching an iron soleplate. You should be fine while in the lowest setting, but be cautious.
10. Clean an iron with ice cubes
If you accidentally left your hot iron near something plastic, you probably have a bit of a mess to deal with. However, melted plastic is easy to get off an iron by using simple items like a big bowl, ice cubes and a plastic knife or spatula. Place your iron in a bowl or pan full of ice to harden the plastic. If your plastic is already hardened, you can skip this step. Now take a plastic knife or spatula and scrape the plastic away, then wipe it down with a damp rag until you feel the iron’s surface to be smooth.
Pro tip: It’s crucial to get plastic off your iron before you use it again, otherwise the plastic will melt into your garments.
How often should I clean my iron?
The answer to this question heavily depends on how often you use your iron. On average, you should make it a habit to clean your iron every other month to remove mineral deposits. If your iron begins to dull or you see any build-up on the soleplate, then you can do a quick cleanse to avoid having to do a deeper clean.
What is the black stuff on my iron?
Most people notice their iron is dirty when they see “black stuff” on the soleplate. The “black stuff” you see is a result of burn marks, dirt, dust, spray starch and fabric fiber buildup. Additionally, if you leave water inside your iron, it could begin to rust cause rusty spots. It’s important to maintain your iron to avoid it from damaging or ruining your clothing.
Maintaining a clean iron
To maintain a clean iron, there are a few things to consider. First, try using distilled water rather than ordinary tap water in your iron. Tap water contains minerals which over time results in rust and mineral build-up. Another consideration to avoid rust and mineral build-up is to make sure you empty the reservoir and place it in an upright position before storing it in your laundry room.
To keep your iron’s soleplate sleek and shiny, never iron over metal zippers, buttons, snaps or any other decorative item. The plate will last much longer and keep your iron maintenance low. Maintaining an iron may seem low on the to-do list, but it’s a great laundry hack that will save you a lot of time in the long-run.