Tips for cleaning your clothing iron

A classic ironing clean-up job is when synthetic fibres get stuck to the sole plate — your iron's flat undersurface. Keeping your iron clean is important if you want to keep your clean clothes clean.

Tips for cleaning your clothing iron

1. To remove fibres such as nylon and polyester

  • Heat the iron until the fibres liquefy.
  • Now iron over an old cotton rag, removing as much of the synthetic material as possible.
  • Then, on non-stick and aluminium or chrome sole plates, use a wooden spatula to scrape off the fibres.
  • Never scrape with plastic, metal or anything abrasive. Instead, the better option is to run the iron over a terry towelling cloth or some other rough material that the remaining fibres can stick to.
  • If the stain still remains on an aluminium or chrome sole plate, your next option is to make a paste of baking soda and water in the consistency of toothpaste.
  • Rub it on a cool iron with a soft cloth, then wipe it off with another damp cloth.
  • Don't use this method on non-stick sole plates.

2. On Teflon or metallic coating non-stick surfaces

  • A damp cloth should wipe off any water marks, and a wooden spatula should remove any fibre stains.
  • Should any marks still remain, rub a nylon scouring pad gently on the iron's sole plate when it's cool.

3. Cleaning specific stains

  • To clean sticky, oil-based residue from an aluminium or chrome sole plate, use an all-purpose cleaner on a cold iron. Spray the cleaner onto the sole plate and rub with a soft cloth. To remove the cleaner, rub with a wet cloth. (Never rinse the electrical appliance in water.) Before using the iron again, heat it and rub the sole plate on a terry towelling cloth to remove any traces of the cleaner and residue.
  • To clean a waxy stain, heat your iron as hot as possible and iron newspaper until the wax is gone. Don't worry — the print won't come off on your iron.
  • To prevent stains from forming on the sole plate, use a press cloth, a lightweight pure-cotton cloth, which will act as a barrier between the iron and your clothing. A press cloth will prevent synthetic fibres or starch from attaching to the iron.

4. To clean the iron's steam chamber

  • Check the manufacturer's guidelines about the type of water to use — distilled or tap water. Generally, newer models use tap water — the minerals actually help in the steaming process.
  • With the cord unplugged, fill the iron with water.
  • Then plug in the iron and, depending on your model, either turn the iron to its cleaning mode function or to the steaming feature.
  • Hold the steaming iron over a sink, the sole plate face down, until the steam stops.
  • Unplug the iron and leave it in the empty sink for another half an hour to fully dry. An alternative is to place the iron face down on a heat-proof cooking rack while it steams.
  • The steam will remove lint, dirt, dust and mineral deposits that have built up in the steam vents.
  • Finish by wiping with a dry cloth.
  • If you haven't cleaned the steam chamber 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.
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