How To Clean Your Iron (Including That Stubborn Melted Gunk)

clean your iron

We all have at least one household chore we just hate doing, right? Many people hate a particular chore for perfectly logical reasons, like people who hate cleaning the toilet because it’s gross or because they’re a bit of a germaphobe. But logic isn’t always part of the chore-hating equation!

And that is definitely the case with my aversion to ironing. There’s nothing special about ironing that makes it gross, time-consuming, or even particularly difficult—and yet, I’ve despised for as long as I can remember!

clean your iron

Luckily for me, I married a man who prefers to do his own ironing, which is a truly ideal situation for me. And I figure that the least I can do in return is keep our iron clean, both as a gesture of gratitude and to ensure Dave doesn’t accidentally ruin his work shirts by using a grimy iron!

In today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing all the tips and tricks I’ve developed over the years in my quest to learn how to clean an iron. You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to get your iron so clean that it looks (and works) like it’s brand new! :-)

Related: These 10 Brilliant Hacks Make Ironing Fast And Easy

clean your iron

How To Clean An Iron

Cleaning an iron isn’t exactly hard work, but it’s even easier if you make sure to use the right tools and supplies! Here’s what I recommend having on hand to be able to thoroughly clean an iron inside and out:

As with most small appliances, it’s safest to clean an iron when it’s unplugged and cool to the touch. Heat can come in handy for tackling really grimy messes and for cleaning the water reservoir (which I’ll get into a little later), but it’s not necessary for the exterior cleaning process I’ve outlined below.

clean your iron

Cleaning The Iron Soleplate

In my humble opinion, the best way to clean the soleplate of an iron is with a Magic Eraser. I’ve tried a lot of different methods over the years, from baking soda and water paste to a salt scrub, and I always come back to the Magic Eraser because it’s easy, effective, and it doesn’t make a huge mess like other methods do. (I’m looking at you, baking soda!)

To use a Magic Eraser, just dampen it with water, wring it out, then use it wipe away any visible grime on the soleplate. Since the iron soleplate is the thing that comes into contact with your clothes, it can be a real magnet for all kinds of gunk and grime. But unless something melted onto it or it’s marred by some impossible-to-remove residue (see below), a Magic Eraser should make short work of it!

You can also use the Magic Eraser to clean the other exterior parts of your iron too. Just be sure to use light pressure when wiping over printed numbers or words, as the abrasive foam can rub right through printed ink if you press too firmly!

clean your iron

Removing Melted Residue From The Soleplate

As I mentioned before, a Magic Eraser should take care of any everyday grime that may be stuck to your iron’s soleplate. But if there’s been an incident, like something melted onto your iron or it’s developed a grimy burnt-on residue, you may need a more specialized cleaning product to get the job done!

I recommend trying FAULTLESS Hot Iron Cleaner, which you apply to your iron’s soleplate using a cloth while the plate is hot. (Oftentimes those stubborn melted messes won’t budge unless you heat them up first!) This cleaner can help you remove melted fabrics and fusibles, glue, starch, and other messes that more generalized cleaners can’t handle.

clean your iron

Cleaning The Inside Of Your Iron

Even though the outside of your iron is now sparkling clean, you’re not done yet! The next step in the cleaning process is the clean out the inside of your iron, including the water reservoir, spray nozzle, and steam vents (or steam holes).

If you’ve ever had an iron that started leaving behind rusty marks on your clothes and linens, it’s likely that mineral deposits had built up in the water reservoir. This is a common issue that is usually tied to the use of tap water, because as the water heats up in the iron, some of it will evaporate and leave behind minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron (oh, the iron-y!)

Luckily, those mineral deposits don’t stand a chance against good old white vinegar! Here’s how to use it to “steam clean” the inside of your iron:

clean your iron
  1. Dump any water out of the reservoir, then pour 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of distilled water into the empty reservoir.
clean your iron
  1. Plug in your iron, set it to one of the steam settings, and allow it to warm up for 3-5 minutes.
clean your iron
  1. Press the steam button until steam comes out, and repeat around 5 times before turning off the iron. (If you iron doesn’t have a steam button, just let it spit out steam for a minute or two and then turn it off.)
clean your iron
  1. Unplug the iron, then very carefully use a cotton swab to clean the steam holes on the soleplate and the spray nozzle. When the iron is cool to the touch, empty the reservoir and discard the vinegar mixture.

To prevent mineral buildup from plaguing your iron again in the future, only use distilled water to fill the reservoir. Distilled water is free of trace elements, minerals, and other impurities, meaning it will keep the inside of your iron much cleaner than standard tap water!

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for ironing?

clean your iron

How To Clean A Clothes Iron (Step by Step)

Jill Nystul
From melted gunk on the soleplate to rusty mineral buildup, irons can get grimy! Learn how to deep clean your iron here.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cost $8
Yield 1 clean iron

Equipment

  • Magic Eraser
  • Cotton Swabs

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled water

Instructions
 

Cleaning The Iron Soleplate

  • Using a Magic Eraser, dampen it with water, wring it out, then use it wipe away any visible grime on the soleplate. You can also use the Magic Eraser to clean the other exterior parts of your iron too. Just be sure to use light pressure when wiping over printed numbers or words, as the abrasive foam can rub right through printed ink if you press too firmly!
    clean your iron

Cleaning Gunk From a Soleplate

  • If something has been melted onto your iron or it’s developed a grimy burnt-on residue, apply FAULTLESS Hot Iron Cleaner to your iron’s soleplate using a cloth while the plate is hot. (Oftentimes those stubborn melted messes won’t budge unless you heat them up first!) This cleaner can help you remove melted fabrics and fusibles, glue, starch, and other messes that more generalized cleaners can’t handle.
    clean your iron

Cleaning The Iron Reservoir

  • Dump any water out of the reservoir, then pour 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of distilled water into the empty reservoir.
    clean your iron
  • Plug in your iron, set it to one of the steam settings, and allow it to warm up for 3-5 minutes.
    clean your iron
  • Press the steam button until steam comes out, and repeat around 5 times before turning off the iron. (If you iron doesn’t have a steam button, just let it spit out steam for a minute or two and then turn it off.)
    clean your iron
  • Unplug the iron, then carefully use a cotton swab to clean the steam holes on the soleplate and the spray nozzle. When the iron is cool to the touch, empty the reservoir and discard the vinegar mixture. To prevent mineral buildup in the future, only use distilled water to fill the reservoir.
    clean your iron

Video

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Before cleaning the inside of the iron, place the cold iron (soleplate down) in a glass baking dish or a shallow plastic tray on a level surface. Add a little vinegar to the dish/tray, just enough to soak the soleplate bottom (do not go above the soleplate itself on the outside of the iron). Let it sit for a few hours. Now proceed with cleaning the inside of the iron. This additional step will make the steam function work like new again.

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