If you have – and actually use – an iron, you most likely know that, to be most effective, the iron and its parts need to be cleaned occasionally. Buildup on the iron’s plate, dust particles in the air that clog the steam vent, rust and other issues can cause plenty of wrinkles in the ironing process. So what are the best ways to clean your iron?


First and foremost, make sure it is unplugged, completely cool and emptied of all water. Check the iron’s instruction manual for any important cleaning tips. Then, to clean your iron, try one of these methods:



  • If something waxy is stuck to the bottom of your iron, turn the iron onto its highest setting and run it over newspaper until the substance is gone. Then proceed with cleaning.
  • Use a soft cloth with water and mild detergent, or a mix of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water.
  • For stubborn rust or visible residue, try a paste of 2 tsp. baking soda mixed with water, and rub with a soft cloth (never an abrasive material, as it can scratch the surface of your iron).
  • You could also use an iron-cleaning kit, such as homemaking guru Martha Stewart’s favorite, Rowenta. To get the best clean with a product, turn the iron onto the high cotton setting. When it is hot, squeeze some cleaner onto a towel and run the hot iron over the towel. (It is OK to see smoke.) Then, lift the iron and run it over a different towel to remove cleaner residue.


  • This is where your instruction manual plays a role: does your iron require filters that need changing, or does it descale water on its own? If it requires filters, be sure to change them. If water is automatically distilled, fill the reservoir with a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part vinegar, and steam for about 10 minutes.
  • After it is cool, repeat the process using plain water.

Vent holes

  • Insert a pipe cleaner or cotton swab — dry or with a water and vinegar mixture — into each hole and twist it around to remove starch or other buildup.
  • Do not use a hard tool, such as a screwdriver or knife, on the holes, as they will scratch and damage the iron.

If you take time every month or so to properly clean your iron, your clothes will thank you.


Got other thoughts on how to clean an iron? Leave us a note in the comments below.