Tips for Cleaning Your Steam Iron

It's important to keep your new steam iron in tip top condition to improve its lifetime and ensure that it 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 anti-calc elements as these are often damaged by vinegar or other such liquids. You can usually download the user guides from the manufacturers website if you have lost yours.

Cleaning Inside the Iron

This may be necessary to remove the impurities left behind by hard water. First though, you will need to find out if your steam iron automatically de-scales water using a filter. If it does, then you should either replace the filter cartridge or remove the filter for cleaning manually (below). It is not advisable to follow the vinegar cleaning method shown below as the acidity can damage these filters.

If your steam iron does not have a filter, 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.

Cleaning the Anti Calc Filter

This will vary from iron to iron, but generally unplug the iron and empty the water tank. Carefully remove the anti-calc filter as per instructions. Soak the filter in a cup of white vinegar or plain lemon juice for about four hours. Rinse the filter in plain tap water and refit the filter in the iron. Some irons also have a self-clean function which should be performed usually once every 2-4 weeks.

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 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.