How to Clean an Iron

Three Methods:Cleaning with Baking SodaCleaning with Vinegar and SaltOther Ways to Clean Your Iron

A dirty iron can cause a lot of problems, especially if you have a big load of laundry to take care of. Over time, water can leave behind mineral deposits. If you use a spray on starch or other product, this can leave gunk behind on the plate of the iron. Fortunately, though, irons are relatively easy to clean, especially if you do it on a regular basis.

Method 1
Cleaning with Baking Soda

  1. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 20
    Make a paste. Mix together a paste of 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. The paste should be a bit runny, but still thick enough so that it can stick to the plate of your iron.[1]
    • Use filtered or distilled water, if you can.
  2. 2
    Spread the paste on the iron’s plate. You can apply the paste directly to the plate. If your iron is only dirty in one place, you don’t have to spread the mixture all over. If you are just doing a general cleaning, it is also OK to spread the paste over the entire plate.[2]
    • You can use your fingers to apply the paste or you can use a spatula.
    • You can leave this paste sitting on the iron for a few minutes if there is a lot of buildup on the iron.
  3. 3
    Get a clean cloth wet. You will use this to remove the paste, so make sure it is clean. Get the cloth wet. Wring out any excess water, and then wipe off the paste that you have spread onto the iron.
    • Spread the paste on generously, especially if your iron is very dirty.
  4. 4
    Use a cotton swab to clean the steam holes. Dip the cotton swab (the kind that people use to clean their ears) into some fresh distilled water. Clean out each of the steam holes using the cotton swab.[3]
    • You may need to use more than one cotton swab if there is a lot of gunk coming out of the holes. Use a new cotton swab if there is a lot of buildup stuck on the swab.
  5. 5
    Fill the reservoir. If there is any old water leftover in the iron, be sure to empty it out first. You can do this by opening the hatch to the reservoir and turning it upside down. After it is empty, use distilled or filtered water, and fill the reservoir about 1/3 of the way.
    • You can also fill the reservoir with a mixture of 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup white vinegar for a stronger cleaning solution. However, you should read your iron’s instruction manual to make sure that it will tolerate vinegar.
  6. 6
    Turn on the iron. Turn the iron to it’s highest setting, and make sure the steam setting is on. In this step, the steam and heat will clean out gunk and mineral deposits caught deep in the steam holes.
    • Be careful when working with a hot iron. Don’t get burned by the steam that will be released by the iron.
  7. 7
    Iron a clean cloth for a few minutes. Choose a clean cloth that you don’t mind getting dirty. If there is dirt caught inside the iron it may leave brown streaks on your cloth. All you need to do now is iron the cloth to help clean out the iron. If you have a manual steam button, press the button often to help release even more steam.[4]
    • A kitchen towel will probably work well for this.
  8. 8
    Turn off the iron and let it cool. Make sure that you place the iron on a protected surface (e.g. a kitchen counter covered with a towel). As the iron cools, more old sediment might drip out of the iron.
    • If there is any leftover water in the reservoir, be sure to remove it.

Method 2
Cleaning with Vinegar and Salt

  1. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 5
    Mix two parts white vinegar and one part salt. You will heat this mixture on the stove over medium heat. Heat until the salt is dissolved, but avoid letting the vinegar come to a boil.[5]
    • Unfortunately, the smell will probably be strong, but it will be a good cleaner for the iron.
  2. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 6
    Allow the mixture to cool. Leave the hot vinegar to cool down some. You want it to be warm, but not scalding hot.
    • Wear dish gloves to protect your hands from the smell of the vinegar.
  3. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 7
    Dip a clean rag into the vinegar mixture. You will use the mixture to clean the plate of the iron by rubbing the cooled mixture on the bottom of the iron.[6]
    • You can also use a soft brush to do this, unless you have a teflon coated iron as the brush may scratch the coating. Avoid using a wire brush as this will ruin the iron’s plate.
    • This is a great way to get rid of scorch marks on the iron.
  4. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 8
    Rinse the iron. After you are finished cleaning, you should remove any of the residue that might be leftover from the mixture. You can do this by dipping a clean rag into some white vinegar and gently cleaning the plate of the iron again.
    • After that, you can turn the iron on and run it over a piece of old, but clean cloth. This will help burn off any residue that might be left.

Method 3
Other Ways to Clean Your Iron

  1. 1
    Rub a new dryer sheet on the plate of the iron. Turn your iron on the lowest setting. Take a fresh dryer sheet, and gently rub the plate of the iron until all of the dirt and gunk is gone.[7]
    • When you are finished, turn the heat of the iron up and iron a clean rag to get rid of any residue left behind by the dryer sheet.
  2. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 21
    Fill the iron's reservoir. You should use white vinegar and distilled or filtered water, if it is available to you. Turn the iron on steam and iron a thick piece of cotton cloth for five minutes. Dump the vinegar solution from the reservoir and clean off the soleplate with a clean towel.
    • Be sure to check your owner’s manual to be sure that your iron can tolerate vinegar in the reservoir.
  3. Image titled Clean an Iron Step 22
    Use toothpaste to clean off the soleplate. Buff a bit of toothpaste directly onto a cool soleplate, being sure to hit trouble areas. Rub the toothpaste off with a clean cloth, then set the iron on steam and steam a cloth for five minutes.[8]
  4. 4
    Clean a sticky iron with newspaper. If there is something sticky on the bottom of your iron, turn the heat on the iron all the way up and turn the steam off. Run the hot iron over a piece of newspaper until it is clean.[9]
    • If it is still sticky after this, you can sprinkle a bit of salt on the newspaper and repeat the process. This should take care of any sticky substances.


  • If you are using a steam iron you should always empty out any excess water that is in the iron. This will help keep mineral deposits from building up on your iron.[10]
  • In general, it is best to use filtered water in your iron instead of distilled or tap water.[11]
  • There are also commercial iron cleaners available, if you want to go that route. Follow the instructions carefully if you use this method.
  • If you want to clean the other parts of the iron (besides the plate), use a damp clean cloth to gently wipe the iron down. Remember that this is an electrical appliance, so too much water could damage the iron.


  • Read the owner’s manual that came with your iron carefully. The owner’s manual may have specific instructions on how to clean the iron without damaging it.

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Categories: Housekeeping | Ironing