Cleaning a Clothes Iron

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October 7, 2010

Yellow and white clothing iron next to a pile of clothes.To remove burned on starch from the iron place a towel dampened with vinegar on the ironing board and sprinkle generously with table salt. Set iron on warm dry setting and run over a towel until the stain is removed.


Clean gunk off the surface of an iron by polishing gently with 0000 grade steel wool. Don't try this with a non-stick iron. If iron surface is dull, polish with Pearl Drops or other toothpaste.

To clean mineral deposits from a steam iron, fill it with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Allow it to steam for several minutes, disconnect, and let stand for an hour. Empty the reservoir, rinse well, and repeat if necessary.

By Ron from Cortez, CO

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November 2, 2011

In the 40's, mom rubbed aluminum foil on the iron to clean it.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

March 28, 2005

Good afternoon. I iron and starch my clothes every day. Recently, I got burnt starch on my iron, and I cannot use it. Does anyone know how to get that burnt starch of the iron? Please Help. Thank you.

JD from Atlanta


By jeani (Guest Post)
March 28, 20050 found this helpful

I found this website that might help you!

Their soultion is: Try heating equal parts of vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub the solution on a cool iron, and wipe dry.

By Joyce (Guest Post)
March 28, 20050 found this helpful

While my iron was cold I used an sos pad to clean it then I buffed it up, looks brand new.

March 28, 20050 found this helpful

Dip a wet cloth in baking soda and clean your iron then rinse it off with clean water.

By alex (guest post) (Guest Post)
July 18, 20050 found this helpful

the sos pad worked great..iron good as new. Thanks Joyce

By Guest (Guest Post)
July 22, 20050 found this helpful

at Robbie says to use aluminum foil on your iron.

By Emma, UK (Guest Post)
May 13, 20060 found this helpful

Heat the iron to a nonsteam, medium heat before cleaning. Sprinkle a generous layer of table salt over a brown grocery bag (use one that has no writing on the top surface).


The salt is abrasive and will remove residue. Iron over the salt to remove starch and debris from the surface of the iron.

By Burt (Guest Post)
June 12, 20060 found this helpful

DON'T use sodium hypochlorite, undiluted, and ammomium hydrochloride.

By Michelle (Guest Post)
April 29, 20080 found this helpful

Does anyone know how to remove a stain from clothing from iron residue? It is a white collar.

By CLSD (Guest Post)
June 23, 20080 found this helpful

A Mr Clean Magic Eraser did the job for me!

By Red Neck (Guest Post)
October 22, 20080 found this helpful

To get spray starch or sizing off of an iron, set the iron for dry ironing (no steam) and maximum temperature. When good and hot, rub it firmly on a wet terry cloth towel. The gunk will steam off the iron and transfer to the towel.


This is better than steel wool pads, which can get rust and soap gunk down into the steam vents which will release on clothing later.

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March 2, 2013

My Black & Decker iron is spitting white stuff. I can't find the booklet that tells me how to fix this problem. Help.

By betes51


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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

Sounds like mineral deposit build up in the reservoir from using tap water. Usually steam iron owners alternate between tap and distilled water to prevent build up.


You can mix some vinegar with distilled water (half and half ratio) and run that through your iron two or three times or until the white spitting stops, then run plain distilled water a few more times to rinse the vinegar smell from the reservoir.

Going forward remember to alternate tap and distilled water when using the steam feature.

You can download your user manual here (US, use the 'global' tab if not in the US), use the search function to find the one for your model:


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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

I agree with the previous poster - mineral deposit. You can also get a special solution (just another sort of acid, like vinegar) to run through your iron. I'd go with the vinegar, as suggested, although I might use a stronger solution - 1/2 and 1/2?


Do the job faster. I think you will find that most steam irons are supposed to use distilled water all the time. Any amount of tap water will eventually build up a deposit. Alternating distilled with tap will only delay the accumulation, not prevent it.


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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

I think the diagnosis was correct, and the first aid for the iron is simply distilled vinegar rinse, maybe a couple times. But irons come with instructions to not use tap water but distilled all the time. I pick up a gallon at the grocery and just put iron only on it. Many times 'those' preparing worm beds, etc want to grab what I use for the iron, so by labeling it "Iron Only", they can't be sure!

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March 18, 2010

Where can I find more Rowenta paste to clean my iron? Or can I mix up my own paste? What are the ingredients?

By Angela Land


March 19, 20100 found this helpful

I use Bon Ami powder from the grocery store and have had good results.


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March 19, 20101 found this helpful

Clean the Soleplate with Baking Soda
You can clean your iron without the cleaning kit. Combine a tablespoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt and enough white vinegar to make a paste. Apply it to a cool iron. Place an old bath towel over the ironing board. Turn the iron on the highest setting and rub it over the towel so the baking soda scrubs the soleplate of the iron as it heats up.


Turn on the steam so the vents get cleaned. Scrape the iron against the edge of the ironing board for extra-tough deposits. Cool the iron and use as usual. Good luck.

March 23, 20100 found this helpful

HI. I just use plain white toothpaste (not the gel or speciality brands). Heat up you iron. Squeeze about some toothpaste onto an old terry cloth towel (not a smooth one) and "iron". Use the steam function of the iron so the vents get cleaned. Hope this helps. W

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September 17, 2007

The steam button of my steam iron is rather sticky and does not come up when I press it unless I pull it up myself.

How do I clean it?

John from Athens, Greece


By Karen (Guest Post)
September 17, 20070 found this helpful

Maybe a little alcohol on a Q-tip?

By John (Guest Post)
September 17, 20070 found this helpful

What is"Q-tip"?

Editor's Note Q-Tip is a brand name for a cotton swab. A cardboard stick with cotton on the ends.

By Sandy (Guest Post)
July 17, 20080 found this helpful

I dropped my iron on the carpet which consisted of man made materials and the iron immediately melted the carpeting to the bottom of my iron. I took a paper towel with a generous amount of everyday rubbing alcohol and wiped the bottom and it peeled right off. The rest of the cleaning needed a bit of elbow grease but it cleaned beautifully. My iron was still warm to the touch so do not know if that was a plus factor or not. Don't be skimpy with the alcohol.

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June 3, 2014

How can I clean spray on starch from the bottom of my ionic coated base plate - Lumina brand iron? The base is neither Teflon, nor stainless steel, but a cream colour.

By Judy B from Brighton Q

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June 6, 2011

I have a film of junk on the bottom of my iron from an unknown source. Is there anyway to remove it or do I have to throw out my iron?

By Linda


June 7, 20110 found this helpful

I'm guessing that the 'junk' on the sole plate is either spray starch or sizing, while the iron is warm, spray the plate with same, then use a non-scratching scrubber to remove the 'junk' residue. If that doesn't work, try Vinegar or Goop Off, but I'm pretty sure that the first method will work. (What else could it be?)

June 18, 20110 found this helpful

Once you clean the iron, heat it up to Warm and iron over a sheet of waxed paper. It will make the iron iron smoother. After the waxed paper, iron it on a paper towel to remove excess wax.

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April 20, 2016

I was temporarily ironing on the floor using an improvised DIY ironing board I made using a wooden chopping board with a tea-towel on it, which was absolutely fine. Then oops, the iron accidently decided to jump onto the carpet (as they do) and I had to rescue the iron and also the carpet from excess attachment issues as they started to melt into each other. melted carpet fiber on iron


The burn to the carpet fortunately wasn't that bad and I managed to trim it with nail scissors and brush it a bit and it's not that noticable. However my iron now has plastic residue from the burnt and melted bits of carpet which I have no idea how to clean off. I've checked all of the advice for cleaning irons I've found online so far all centres around cleaning it from either rust or calcium deposits, but doesn't have anything to do with melted plastic carpet residues.

Alternatively looking up people burning their carpet with an iron, everyone discusses how to deal with the carpet but never with the iron. Any advice out there how to clean my iron from the bits of melted plastic carpet on it now? Many thanks in advance.


July 5, 20170 found this helpful

I used one of the nylon pan cleaners the little scratch Pad cleaners for pots and pans. Not the copper or silver one.

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November 12, 2014

I was ironing my uniform, when I adjusted the heat capacity of the iron. I set it on level 2, but the clothes had no reaction to its heat so I adjusted it again to level 4 and unfortunately it burned a part of the uniform. My concern is not the burned uniform, but the mess it got to the surface of the iron. It looks like plastic got burned into it, but it was actually cloth. How can I clean the surface of the iron without damaging it? Help me please.

By carms


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
December 6, 20170 found this helpful

Its almost the same as plastic if your uniform was a synthetic. Heat the iron back up on a hard surface can take the heat that you don't care if it gets damaged. When it is hot, take a metal spatula and scrape it back off. When its off, let it cool. As long as it is not teflin coated, you can even use a bit of fine grain sandpaper or steel wool to get any residue off.

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April 16, 2014

Recently I have been getting bad rust, or whatever, deposits on the bottom of my iron. I've used distilled water all of my ironing career and never had this problem. It ruined my last iron and I bought another one.

The very first time I used the new iron, the deposits returned. I was able to clean most of it off this time. This should not happen with a brand new iron.

I am beginning to believe that the cause of this problem is not a water/dirt issue, but rather something in the Tide detergent, or Downy fabric softener I use. I know they will not want to hear this, but if I'm right, they have a problem. I am doing some tests by using other detergent brands to see what happens.


By Brenda


December 2, 20140 found this helpful

Downy and tide does leave behind residue which will deposit on the iron, however if your new iron get deposits so fast, you must be using too much detergent and downy. Good to ruse them sparingly.

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December 8, 2013

I accidentally ironed the sticky side of some fabric interfacing with my iron. It melted to the iron and left a mess. I have cleaned with salt, vinegar, steel wool, and Barkeepers Friend. Each of these removed the spot, the bottom was shiny and smooth. However, when I heat up the iron, then the sticky brown spot reappears. Is my iron ruined?

By Sarah


December 9, 20130 found this helpful

Have you ironed anything since this happened? You might try getting an old towel and getting it damp, have your iron on the highest setting and keep running the iron over the towel. I have done that myself and after tearing up a few irons, using steel wool and other cleaners, have found this trick to be most useful. It could be the spot your seeing is from the cleaners removing the protective coating on the iron. It might still be ok to use if it doesn't damage clothing. You could also put a sheet or rag sized sheet on top of the area you want to iron so it doesn't damage the clothing and if there is any sticky stuff it will be left on the sheet and not on your item.

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September 30, 2012

My iron has stopped steaming. Any suggestions to clean it?

By Sheila from Ontario


October 10, 20120 found this helpful

Pure white vinegar and let it set or buy coffee pot cleaner from store. The vinegar must set in the iron to dissolve the deposits.

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June 20, 2018

To clean a sticky or dirty iron, try running it over a dryer sheet and then onto a paper towel. Continue this process with your iron on high until the sole plate is clean. This is a page about how to clean your iron with a dryer sheet.

Close up of the bottom of an iron.

September 17, 2018

Using tap water in your steam iron can result in hard water deposits on your steam iron. Vinegar is a good product to use for this cleaning job. You can also try the paraffin method. This is a page about cleaning a steam iron of calcium deposits.

Steam Iron

March 17, 2013

This page is about removing rust from steam iron. Having rust in or on your iron can stain your clothing.

Steam Iron


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 7, 2010

How do I clean the inside of a steam iron?


March 8, 2010

I have used a glass container that had a little clear fizzy liquid (Coke) to add water to the iron. Now when I use the iron it sputters a sticky substance. I need to clean it. Can someone tell me how?


December 25, 2009

My son tried numerous times to iron, but would always let the clothes burn. Now the iron has black stuff on it. How can I get it off? Thanks.


September 7, 2009

How do I clean the bottom of a steam iron?


July 1, 2009

How can I get dried sticky stuff off the bottom of my iron?


April 21, 2009

How do I remove the brownish, icky build up from the bottom of my iron?


June 22, 2008

How do I clean the brown burnt on stuff on the plate of my steam iron?


February 27, 2008

How do get my brand new iron clean? It already has that gunky dark-brown build-up that makes it impossible to iron some nicer fabrics.


April 4, 2007

To clean the bottom of an iron, use A dry or damp (non soap) SOS or steel wool pad. Scrub the bottom until it is clean.

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