Keep your iron clean for longer use

July 29, 2015

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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