The easy way to clean an iron

how to clean an iron
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Ironing is the UK's most hated chore, with half the country disliking it according to YouGov. But keeping your iron in tip-top shape may help make the ironing process quicker and more effective.

If your freshly laundered clothes are covered in random marks or rusty splutterings, it's probably time to descale your iron. Most manufacturers recommend doing this every one to four months depending on how much you use your iron.

Not sure where to begin? Our expert tips will help.

4 signs your iron needs descaling

  • Is your iron coughing out chalky white mineral deposits or limescale onto your freshly laundered clothes?

  • Is there a sticky residue (from ironing fabrics on too hot a setting) melted on to the soleplate (aka, the metal bit)?

  • Does the iron drag rather than glide?

  • Does the iron leave behind marks and stains?

If any of that sounds familiar, it could be time to clean your iron! Ignore the problem and you risk ruining any delicate items as you iron.

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How to get rid of soleplate gunk

Take a large, clean, damp cloth and wipe over a slightly warm soleplate. We like the e-cloth general purpose cleaning cloth for this job.

If you use dryer sheets in your tumble dryer, these can also be effective – again, turn the iron on low and rub a few dryer sheets over the soleplate to remove accumulated dirt and grime.

You could also use a bit of ordinary white toothpaste with a damp cloth to gently remove a build-up of grime on the base.

Don't use any abrasive cleaners, as these will damage the soleplate coating. However, you can use a cleaner specifically designed for soleplates. The GHI team rate the Faultless Hot Iron Cleaner.

How to deep clean your iron

Most steam irons now have some form of self-cleaning, or 'anti-calc' system – use these regularly following the manufacturer's instructions.

Alternatively, pour equal parts distilled white vinegar and water into the water reservoir until it's a third full. Turn it on to medium heat and let it steam for about five to 10 minutes so all the vinegar evaporates. Then, fill the chamber with fresh water and turn the iron on again to flush through traces of mineral deposits and vinegar. Wipe the base of the iron and steam vents with a paper towel.

Do check with manufacturer's instructions first, as not all recommend using vinegar.

how to clean an iron
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How to tackle clogged steam iron vents

To clean clogged steam vents, use a cotton bud dipped in a water and distilled white vinegar solution.

To help prevent the build-up of limescale deposits in the iron, always remove excess water from the chamber when you've finished ironing.

If your iron does have a build-up of limescale, use a descaling solution — like the Oust All Purpose Descaler — to get rid of it. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions.

How to clean steam generator irons

You can clean the soleplate of a steam generator iron in the same way as you would a steam iron. However, most have built-in systems to remove or collect scale in the tank so follow the instructions in the user manual to do this.

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