Care And Cleaning Tips For Your Iron

Has your iron started leaving burn marks on your clothing? Maybe a slightly chalky residue seems to keep coming out of the holes, or it could just be looking pretty grimy.

We keep our irons for quite a few years. Even though you can buy a new one for a relatively inexpensive price, they are usually an appliance which we keep going with and don’t replace until it completely gives up. Which is a good thing for both your purse and the planet, of course.

But there are some steps you can take to further prolong the life of your iron and keep it working in prime condition. Even better, most of the homemade cleaning products can be found in your kitchen cupboards.

Common Iron Issues And How To Fix Them

The Plate Of My Iron Is Dirty

Burnt Iron Sole Plate

Dirty iron plates can cause a whole host of issues, from burnt and sticking clothing to making the job much harder for yourself

When the iron is still slightly warm (not enough to cause injury of course), wipe a damp cloth over the plate. Don’t use a cloth which is too abrasive – a microfibre one should be fine.

Some people swear by tumble dryer sheets as they’re a bit rougher but are essentially designed to smoothen sticky surfaces. You can use the same method, or if the stains are a bit tougher, turn the iron on high heat and run over the sheet, then iron a paper towel, and repeat until it is all removed.

Using a little toothpaste on a damp cloth also works in some cases, or make a paste of two tbsp baking powder and one tbsp of water. Spread over the plate when cool and rub with a soft cloth; just remember to wipe it all away before you start to iron again!

The Insides Need A Bit Of A Clean

Modern irons usually have some form of self-cleaning or anti-calc build up in place when the steam function is used. Follow the recommendations in the user manual for the best way to do this.

If you’d rather do it manually, pour equal parts white vinegar and water into the reservoir until it’s about a third full. Turn it on to medium heat and allow it to steam until the water has all gone (you may need to turn this function on manually a few times to get it going). Repeat just with fresh water to clear all traces of vinegar.

Check your iron can take vinegar first though. Some may not recommend it, and it could invalidate any insurance or warranties.

The Steam Vents Are Clogged

Grab a cotton bud, and dip in a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Get as close to the vent as possible, then fill the iron with one-third water and leave it to steam. Repeat if necessary.

It Keeps Clogging Up Regularly

If you use ordinary water, try and filter it to remove the limescale and other minerals you don’t really want in there. Ironing water is usually a bit cleaner.

Never keep water stored in the iron when it isn’t in use either. This can cause a build up which becomes hard to remove.

I Burnt Some Fabric On To The Plate

It can happen to the most careful of us, especially if you are ironing sensitive fabrics such as silk and the temperature is a little too high.

To get it off, turn the iron on to a low setting and wait until it heats. This should soften the material. This should be easy to scrape off with a wooden spatula or spoon. A damp nylon mesh cleaning pad should do the trick if the plate is a little non-stick. If the fabric is polyester, try rubbing with some acetone nail polish remover.

Allow to cool and then wipe away with a damp cloth and leave to steam. Should any remain, mix equal parts baking powder with water to form a paste and rub on to the patch.

There Is Plastic Burnt On To The Iron

This can happen with some clothing, such as slogan t-shirts or toggles. Ensure the iron is cool, then fill a shallow baking tray with a layer of ice cubes. Place the iron on top of these for five to ten minutes until the plastic has fully hardened, then prise off with a blunt plastic knife or wooden spatula. Clean the area with the baking powder mixture, or you can use some table salt mixed with vinegar if you have these instead.


  • Always check warranties to ensure you can use these homemade products. Some may say that you can only use official cleaning products. Likewise, some may say these can’t be used as they are too harsh
  • Be careful when the iron is still hot. You may wish to use heat-proof gloves, but most cleaning should only be done when the iron is cool enough not to cause injury
  • When we say vinegar, we mean distilled white vinegar. Don’t use the stuff you put on your chips


Is your iron beyond cleaning, or perhaps you fancy a new one which you can look after properly from day one? Luckily, we have reviewed some strong contenders to replace your iron which has been through the mill.

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