Keep your iron clean for longer use

Keep your iron clean, and it will reward you with crisp clothes for decades.

Keep your iron clean for longer use

Steam-clean your iron regularly

  • If you haven't cleaned your steam iron for a while, you may find that the water or steam looks rusty.
  • This is actually burned lint, which can stain your clothes. So it's important to clean your steam chamber and vents every couple of months.
  • Here are the steps for steam-cleaning your iron. The steam will remove lint, dirt, dust and mineral deposits that have built up in the steam vents.

    1. Unplug the iron; then fill it with the recommended distilled or tap water.

    2. Plug in the iron, and depending on your model, either set the iron to its cleaning-mode function or to the steaming feature.

    3. Hold the steaming iron over the sink, with the soleplate facing down, until the steam stops. (Or place the iron facedown on a heatproof cooking rack while it steams.)

    4. Unplug the iron, and leave it in the sink (or on the rack) for another half-hour to fully dry.

    5. Finish by wiping the iron with a dry cloth.

Vinegar dissolves the tough deposits

  • If the steam-cleaning technique described above doesn't remove the mineral deposits from the steam chamber, try using vinegar if your manufacturer's instructions allow it.
  • Pour white vinegar into the steam chamber, and steam it through the vents. Rinse out the vinegar, and refill the chamber with water.
  • Let the water steam through the iron to remove all the vinegar.
  • Repeat if necessary. If you're not careful about removing the vinegar, it may stain your clothes the next time you use the iron.
  • The acidic nature of vinegar may also etch and damage the interior of your iron if left inside the steam chamber.
  • Besides, you don't want to walk around in clothes that smell like a salad.

Treat non-stick soleplates with care

  • Some iron soleplates are coated with Teflon or a metallic non-stick coating to make it easier to clean off melted fibres.
  • Usually, a wooden spatula is all you need to scrape the fibres off.
  • The trade-off is that these surfaces are more easily scratched — even a baking soda paste can etch them.
  • If a spatula doesn't do the trick, you can rub a nylon scouring pad on the soleplate.
  • Make sure the soleplate is cool when you do — or the scouring pad may melt, making a worse mess than the one you started with.

Use the right water in your iron

  • Many manufacturers recommend using distilled water in steam irons to prevent minerals from clogging the iron.
  • But be sure to check your owner's manual because most newer models are designed to use tap water — the minerals actually help the steaming process.
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