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How to Clean an Iron

It's a fact of life: sometimes a masseuse needs a massage, a barber needs a haircut, and a cleaning device—like your household iron—needs a good old-fashioned cleaning.


  • Step 1: Unplug iron Make sure the iron is turned off, unplugged, and completely cool.
  • Step 2: Mix solution Mix a little dishwashing detergent into the bowl of water and dip a rag or old towel into the solution.
  • Step 3: Rub soleplate Rub the "soleplate"—the metal bottom of the iron—to remove any baked-on residue. Wipe it clean with another damp rag or towel.
  • TIP: To remove more stubborn stains, buy hot-iron cleaner—available at most hardware stores—and follow the directions.
  • Step 4: Clean steam holes Use a cotton swab or pipe cleaner dipped in solution to gently clean out any residue trapped in the steam holes.
  • Step 5: Fill iron Once the soleplate is clean and dry, fill the iron with distilled water and set it on a metal cooling rack in your laundry room, away from anything that might be harmed by heat or water.
  • TIP: Beware of using water and vinegar, a common recommendation, to clean out mineral deposits, since this solution can create a new problem: brown sludge.
  • Step 6: Run iron Plug in the iron, turn it to the "steam clean" setting, and let it run.
  • TIP: If your iron doesn't have a "steam clean" setting, turn it to high on the "steam" setting and high on the "heat" setting.
  • Step 7: Let steam run Stand clear of the iron and let the steam run through it for a several minutes, or until all the water is gone.
  • Step 8: Unplug iron Turn the iron off, unplug it, and let it cool.
  • FACT: The electric iron wasn't commonly used until the 1940s – before that, irons heated by whale oil, kerosene, or gasoline were all the rage.

You Will Need

  • An iron in need of cleaning
  • 2.0 rags or old towels
  • A small bowl of tap water
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Cotton swabs or a pipe cleaner
  • 8.0 oz distilled water
  • A metal cooling rack
  • A laundry room
  • garage
  • or any safe place to run the iron
  • Hot-iron cleaner (optional)

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