The clothes iron has been man’s friend since as far back as the 1st century B.C. Today, the steam iron has taken its place, providing a more efficient means to tackle the wrinkles in our clothes. Well-ironed garments help keep our image polished. But every now and then, your steam iron needs an image redo, namely a cleaning.

It rarely occurs to most people to clean their steam iron. While the soleplate visibly appears ready for a cleaning after a while, the inside of the iron needs your attention as well. Over time, salts and minerals present in the water accumulate throughout the passageways, from the water reservoir to the steam vents. This hampers the flow of steam.


If the steam dispensing becomes hampered, your iron most likely requires a thorough cleaning. Also, a soleplate coated with scorched and melted fabric won’t work effectively.

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your steam iron. While the jury is still out on the type of water to be used in steam irons, you can considerably improve the life and functioning of your iron by cleaning it when required.

How often you should clean your steam iron depends upon how much you use it. The state of your iron should easily tell you if it needs cleaning.

Clean iron before after


Here are two methods to clean your steam iron. You can choose the one that suits you the best.

Method 1: Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Things you’ll need:

Method 1 things need

  • Steam iron
  • Towel
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled water
  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton swabs

Step 1. Make a baking soda paste

Make a baking soda paste

Mix some baking soda with distilled water to make a spreadable paste. The quantity of the baking soda paste should be determined based on the size of your steam iron’s soleplate.

Step 2. Cover the soleplate with the paste

Cover the soleplate with the paste


Spread this paste over your iron’s soleplate. Use a small plastic spatula for this purpose. Alternatively, you can simply use your fingers or even an ice-cream stick for this job.

Let the baking soda paste sit on the soleplate for about 15 minutes.

Step 3. Clean the soleplate with a toothbrush

Clean the soleplate with a toothbrush

Now, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the baking soda paste off the soleplate. Mildly abrasive, baking soda is an effective cleaning agent.


Don’t worry if the paste gets into the steam vents, as it will be dealt with shortly. After brushing the baking soda paste thoroughly over the soleplate, you’ll find that it shines anew.

Step 4. Clean the steam vents with cotton swabs

Clean the steam vents with cotton swabs

Clean the gunk in the steam vents using cotton swabs. The cotton ends are perfect for cleaning these holes. Keep switching out dirty swabs with clean ones. Go through each steam vent one-by-one until all are sufficiently clean.

Step 5. Fill the water reservoir with white vinegar

Fill the water reservoir with white-vinegar

Now that the soleplate of the steam iron is spic-and-span, you can turn your attention to the water reservoir. The salt and mineral buildup in your steam iron hampers its steam dispensing efficiency, but this buildup can be cleaned with white vinegar.

Fill up the water reservoir with distilled white vinegar.


Step 6. Iron a clean towel using the steam setting

Iron a clean towel using the steam setting

Now, lay down a folded towel. Turn on the steam iron and start ironing the towel on the highest heat setting. Set your steam iron on “cotton” setting if your iron has heat settings according to fabric. While ironing, you’ll notice that the dirt accumulated in your iron gets deposited over the towel.

White vinegar is a great cleaning agent. Since it is mildly acidic, it dissolves the salt and mineral buildup inside the iron and deposits it over the towel along with the steam. In 1 to 2 minutes, your iron should be completely cleaned. If not, keep at it until the steam runs clean. Empty the reservoir when done.

Step 7. Fill the water reservoir with distilled water

Fill the water reservoir with distilled water

In order to wash out the white vinegar, fill the reservoir with distilled water.

Step 8. Steam iron the towel

Steam iron the towel

Again, iron a clean surface of the towel using the steam setting. Set your steam iron on the highest steam setting for this step. This should remove any traces of white vinegar from the iron.

Steam iron the towel

Method 2: Using Salt

Things you’ll need:

Salt method things need

  • Steam iron
  • Salt
  • Sheet of brown paper

Step 1. Spread salt over a sheet of brown paper

Spread salt over a sheet of brown paper

Lay down a sheet of brown paper. Spread a layer of salt over it. Salt also exhibits abrasive properties, which help clean the soleplate of the iron.

Step 2. “Iron” the layer of salt



All that you need to do is “iron” the layer of the salt. Turn on your iron and iron the salt layer without the steam setting. The heat loosens up the charred coating on the soleplate, and the mild abrasion provided by the salt removes the charred remains of scorched fabric or other substances.

To clean the reservoir, follow the steps mentioned in the above method.


Additional Tips

  • The frequency of cleaning your steam iron depends upon how much you use it. Your steam iron needs cleaning when the soleplate exhibits a visible buildup or when the mineral deposits hinder the flow of steam.
  • An iron that’s plugged in and/or hot should be handled with caution. A hot iron or scalding steam can easily burn you.
  • Be sure to use an old towel, as the towel will get dirty with the gunk deposited by the white vinegar steam. To clean it, you can throw it in the wash later.
  • If the towel gets considerably dirty, change its fold to expose a clean surface. This will help you easily determine when your steam iron is clean.
  • Baking soda or salt can also be used to clean the soleplate of a regular iron.
  • Alternate between ironing a dryer sheet and a hand towel to keep your steam iron sparkling and good smelling.
  • Refrain from using products like steel wool or abrasive scrub pads to clean the soleplate. They can leave scratches on the surface.