Your wardrobe might be wrinkle free, but how clean is your iron?

Iron on Ironing Board with Floral Background
Credit: Steven Errico / Getty Images

Ever stopped to think about the cleanliness of your iron before tackling a pile of laundry? One terrible encounter with a big brown stain mid steam might make you stop and think twice.

Along with many other appliances you may be forgetting to clean, your iron needs a good scrub every now and again. Over time, everything from burned spray starch, synthetic fabric residue, and everyday dirt can build up on an iron's surface. Avoid an accident by cleaning your iron regularly, especially when it starts slicking to clothing, steam water becomes brown, or there is visible residue on the iron. After you've cleaned your iron, be sure to use distilled water for future steaming to avoid mineral build up.

Here are a few of our favorite methods for cleaning an iron.

How to Clean an Iron with Newspaper

This easy technique is best for quick cleaning.

  1. Turn your iron on high. Turn the steam function off. Ensure the soleplate is dry.
  2. Place newspaper on your ironing board.
  3. Run the iron back and forth over newspaper until clean.
  4. If gummy substances won't come off, sprinkle a tablespoon salt onto the newspaper and continue running the iron back and forth.
  5. Once clean, unplug and let cool before running a damp paper towel or towel over the soleplate to rinse of any final residue.

How to Clean an Iron with Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is helpful for cleaning oily substances off of the soleplate as well as cleaning your steam water reservoir.

For oily soleplates:

  1. Unplug your iron. Ensure it's completely cool before cleaning.
  2. Dip a cloth in distilled white vinegar. Rub soleplate with vinegar-soaked cloth.
  3. Dip a second cloth in water. Wipe with damp cloth to rinse.

For dirty steam water reservoirs:

  1. Start with a completely empty reservoir.
  2. Fill reservoir with ¾ cup distilled water and ¼ cup distilled white vinegar.
  3. Place an old towel on ironing board.
  4. Turn iron on full steam. Move the iron back and forth over the old towel, using spray function as well if available.
  5. When no signs of brown water remain, refill iron with distilled water only and move over the old towel again before using on clothes.

How to Clean an Iron with Nail Polish Remover

Acetone nail polish is a great tool for dissolving soleplate gunk.

  1. Turn your iron on. Turn the steam function off.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with acetone nail polish remover.
  3. Put on oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves.
  4. Dap soaked cotton ball over hot soleplate quickly. Liquid will dissolve quickly.
  5. Once clean, wet a towel. Use damp cloth to wipe surface completely before using on clothes.

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How to Clean an Iron with Burned Fabric

  1. Turn your iron on. Turn the steam function off.
  2. Once warm and fabric starts to soften, use a wooden spatula to scrape at melted material.
  3. When large pieces are removed, unplug your iron. Use tweezers on unplugged iron to pull small pieces from steam vents.
  4. Once fabric pieces are removed, use once of the above methods to finish cleaning the soleplate.