When was the last time you cleaned your iron? A lot of people never bother, but cleaning your steam iron on a regular basis will give you better results while extending the life of the iron.
First, Read the Manual
Before you start, read your iron’s instruction manual. Different manufacturers have different recommendations, and if you don’t follow them, you may void the warranty. Also, it’s good to know how your iron works, to be sure you’re not doing something that could harm it.
For example, if your iron has a descaling filter in the reservoir, such as the one used in the Reliable Velocity irons, trying to clean the reservoir without removing filter could damage both the filter and the iron. More important, you may not even need to clean the reservoir. You may just need to change the filter.
Cleaning the Reservoir
To clean the reservoir, use distilled water and vinegar or a cleaner from the iron’s maker. Regular tap water has minerals that could build up in the iron and eventually clog it, just the thing you’re trying to avoid with regular cleaning. If you use water and vinegar, plug the iron in and turn it on. Let it get hot, and then spray all of the water and vinegar out until the entire reservoir is empty. This should thoroughly clean the reservoir, but if you want to be sure, repeat the process with distilled water without vinegar. If you use a cleaner from the maker, just follow those instructions.
Cleaning the Soleplate
The soleplate can present the most difficult cleaning challenge. Over time, residual cleaning agents, starch and even small fibers can build up, leaving spots on the plate and your clothes. Always clean the soleplate when it’s cold. Use a clean, lint-free cloth or sponge with a mild cleaning solution. For tough spots, you can try straight vinegar. Don’t use any type or abrasive cleaners or cloths, as these can scratch the soleplate and create crevices where more junk can build up.
For non-stick soleplates, a cloth with warm water should be all you need, especially if you clean the plate after each use. The caution against using abrasives is even more important with non-stick surfaces, because when the non-stick surface starts to wear away, you need to replace the iron. Otherwise, you can find non-stick flecks ironed into your clothes.
The rest of the outside of the iron should clean easily with a cloth moistened with warm soapy water. Don’t clean with abrasive chemical products or solvents can damage plastic parts and remove parts of the control marks. Never submerge the iron in water. This can damage the electrical parts of the iron, creating a safety hazard if not making the iron useless.