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.