Updated: February 2018
Tips for Cleaning Your Steam Iron
It's important to keep your steam iron in tip-top condition to improve its longevity and ensure that it always performs as well as the manufacturer intended.
This is general cleaning advice - you should always check with the manufacturers specific instructions first. This is particularly true if your iron uses some kind of de-scaling system (most new ones do) as these are often damaged by cleaning chemicals including vinegar.
You can usually download the user guides from the manufacturers website if you have lost yours - click here for links
Cleaning Inside the Iron
This is necessary to remove the limescale and other impurities left behind by hard water. First though, you will need to find out if your steam iron automatically de-scales water itself. If it does, then you should either replace the filter cartridge, remove the permanent filter for cleaning manually or follow the calc-clean procedure. In either of these cases, is NOT advisable to follow the vinegar cleaning method shown below as the acidity can damage these filters.
If your steam iron DOES NOT use a de-scaling system, then you can de-scale it manually by using a mixture of one-part water and one-part vinegar (white vinegar is best) and pouring it into the water tank. Get a clean, white towel and continually steam and iron the towel until the water tank is empty. Now, repeat a second time but this time use only plain water.
De-Scaling Process ("Calc-Clean")
This will vary from iron to iron, but generally:
- Fill the tank with water
- Set the steam output to none ('dry' setting)
- Set the temperature to maximum
- Switch on the iron and let it get to temperature
- Then you MUST unplug the iron
- Set steam output to maximum
- Hold the iron over a sink
- Press the clean or calc-clean button whilst gently shaking the iron from side to side until the water tank is empty. Note: Boiling water and steam will be emitted
- Release the button and continue shaking the iron for a few seconds
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 two more times
- Then plug the iron in and heat it up again until the remaining water has evaporated. Press the "clean" button a few more times for a final flush through
- Unplug and let the iron cool down
Cleaning the Soleplate
Instructions for cleaning the all-important soleplate of your steam iron will depend on the material that it is made from - usually coated ceramic, stainless steel, aluminium or a non-stick material. Never use an abrasive cleaner as they will scratch the soleplate surface. Always unplug the iron and wait for it to completely cool before cleaning the soleplate.
For general cleaning of the soleplate, dampen a clean cloth with white vinegar and wipe the soleplate. For more stubbon stains consider adding baking soda to the vinegar. If the soleplate is more heavily stained, then iron a linen cloth soaked in white vinegar. Then dampen another cloth with water and wipe the soleplate clean. If the vent holes have become clogged, clean with cotton swabs dipped in a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar.
Non-Stick Coated Soleplates
For non-stick coated irons, clean with a soft cloth, warm water, and mild detergent such as washing up liquid.
To Clean a Stainless Steel Soleplate
You can use one of the gentle chrome, silver or stainless steel cleaners that are generally available. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
In the unlikely event of any man-made fibres sticking to the soleplate, set the iron at the 3 dot (hot iron) position and pass it over a clean piece of cotton which should draw the deposit off the surface. If the substance stuck on the bottom of the iron is waxy, you should turn the iron onto its highest setting and run it across newspaper until the residue disappears.
If plastic has been melted on your sole plate, it can be removed by placing a piece of aluminum foil on the ironing board and sprinkling it with salt. Ironing over the salt and foil will help loosen the plastic. Never try to scrape the plastic off with metal tools or abrasive paper/sandpaper as it will probably permanently damage the soleplate.
Cleaning the Outside Casing
Allow the iron to cool down fully, and then wipe over with a damp cloth and mild detergent (such as washing-up liquid), then wipe with a dry cloth.