How To Clean Your Iron To Make Sure You Don't Ruin Your Clothes

An expert shares her best tips for cleaning and maintaining your iron.

Iron on Ironing Board
Photo: Getty Images

Whether you use your iron every day or once a year (raises hand), it's important to clean it out properly. There's nothing worse than accidentally getting gunk on your clean clothes because you haven't cleaned your iron in forever. Below, we've asked cleaning guru Sabrina Fierman who works for a high-end cleaning service for her best tips on how to clean and maintain your iron at home.

How To Clean the Inside of an Iron

First of all, you want to always check the iron manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning out your iron. If you don't have the appliance's manual (because who actually keeps those things?), you can often find them online if you search your iron brand, product, and "manual" in the search bar.

If that doesn't work, your best bet is to clean the inside of your iron with the following. "Mix a ½ cup of white vinegar and a ½ cup of water together and pour into the iron reservoir," suggests Fierman. "Turn on and set to steam, wait five minutes and then press steam for 30 seconds, repeating about four to five times." After you've done that, turn off the iron, let it cool, and pour out the remaining vinegar solution. Feel free to repeat this process with distilled water to remove any residue.

How To Clean the Bottom of an Iron

There are several methods you can use to clean the bottom of an iron. "Using white vinegar again, soak a clean cotton rag in the vinegar, and place the cool iron plate on the rag," says Fierman. "Be sure to use a surface that is protected or that will not be affected by the vinegar. Leave it on the rag for 30 minutes and then wipe it clean."

If you need something abrasive, Fierman suggests trying a 2:1 baking soda paste with baking soda and water. "Apply the paste and scrub gently in circular motions—be sure to wipe it clean with a clean, damp cloth," she says. "Another method is to apply copious amounts of salt on top of newspaper on your ironing board. Set your iron to warm, and then iron over the salt in circular motions until clean."

If you're having trouble cleaning out the steam holes in the bottom of your iron, consider reaching for a Q-tip and using the end to clean them out. Similar to the above, you can dip the Q-tip into white vinegar for a more effective clean.

What To Avoid When Cleaning an Iron

There are two things you want to avoid when cleaning out your iron—the first involves super strong cleaning products. "Avoid any strong products that can affect the exterior coating of the iron," suggests Fierman. Secondly, you want to avoid using tap water. "Using distilled water when cleaning your iron is best because it doesn't have metals in it." You can usually find distilled water at your local drugstore or grocery store.

How Often To Clean Your Iron

The frequency with which you do a deep clean of your iron really depends on how often you use it. Fierman suggests using the above methods about once or twice a year as needed to keep your iron in tip-top shape.

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