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How To Clean An Iron

An iron is an essential part of every well put together person’s life, however, sometimes mistakes do happen and you burn your iron’s soleplate.

Maybe you left it on too long on the ironing board and now pieces of it are stuck to the metal? Maybe over the years of use it finally starting gathering more and more limescale?

Today’s text will detail ten accessible methods on how to clean an iron and how to clean the bottom of an iron once it’s been burnt. All described methods will use products you already have laying around at home, so no need for professional iron plate cleaning solutions.

How To Clean Iron - Solutions Based on the Type of Iron Soleplate

In order for you to know exactly how to clean an iron’s soleplate, you need to distinguish between three different soleplate types – regular iron, ceramic or Teflon.

Teflon iron flat plates are becoming more and more common in high-end and consumer-grade irons, however, they can only be cleaned with nonabrasive substances.

Avoid cleaning Teflon irons with:

  • Tooth paste;
  • Baking soda;
  • Salt;
  • Abrasive sponges.

Iron and ceramic plated flatiron soleplates are safer to clean with abrasive substances as they are quite hardened and don’t scratch as easily.

1. Cleaning it with Distilled Vinegar

One common solution how to clean iron plates is by using pure white vinegar with moderate to high acidity (below 10%). As we mentioned in our article on the true value of cleaning with white vinegar, the acetic acid found in white and distilled vinegar, are highly corrosive to proteins and other polymer bonds.

The best way how to clean an iron soleplate with distilled vinegar, is to soak a rag or a cotton fabric (preferably white), with distilled vinegar, place it into a plastic container and rest the iron flat onto the fabric.

Let it sit for 15 mins to 1 hour and then rinse the iron plate with distilled water to neutralize the acetic acid. You can finish the process with a microfibre cloth to polish the surface even further.

2. Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is commonly less abrasive than regular toothpaste as its main function is to whiten the enamel of the teeth using a series of whitening agents. Due to the decreased abrasive nature of the toothpaste you can use it quite safely to clean of the bottom of your burn iron.

Moisten the affected area with warm tap water then dab a little of the toothpaste on the moistened area, making sure to use a soft bristle brush to agitate it.

Let the toothpaste sit until its dry and turn on the iron – wait until its thermostat turns off, then let it cool and wash off the residue with clean, warm water.

3. Table Salt Iron Cleaner

One of the best ways how to clean burnt iron is with the use of sea salt made into a paste with distilled water. The water will help round out the salt minerals reducing their abrasiveness – this method is ideal for heavily burned irons which regularly stick to synthetic clothes.

Just be sure to let the iron cool prior to cleaning it with the solution otherwise the water will evaporate and allow for the diluted salt to crystalise again, becoming more abrasive than before.

4. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are the staple for any natural home cleaning solution and that’s due to the chemical reaction between the base of the baking soda and the acetic acid of the vinegar.

The powerful reaction continues as the paste mixture is applied onto the burned surface of your iron soleplate, helping it extract the stuck particles.

The baking soda method is well worth it for cleaning ceramic and iron coated soleplates however, it should be avoided when cleaning Teflon due to the abrasive nature of the resulting substance.

5. Newspaper and Hot Water

Cabinet makers already know this, but newspaper has some abrasive and polishing qualities relative to 2000+ grit sand paper or polishing compounds. The more its used, the smoother and finer the grit becomes, helping smooth out any imperfections.

How to clean a flat iron using the newspaper method? Soak the newspaper in hot water and place it on a flat surface, then place the iron on it. Let it soak a bit then turn on the iron and start “ironing” the paper while its drying.

You should start noticing burnt flakes dropping off after a couple of passes. Alternately, you can use the newspaper like so:

  • Take a flat block of wood stock;
  • Wrap the newspaper around it;
  • Rub the burnt iron in straight motions.

6. Hot Towel and Dishwashing Detergent

Dishwashing detergent and a hot towel are the preferred methods for cleaning a Teflon flat iron because they have the least abrasive qualities.

This method does wonders if you let the iron soak onto the wet towel – our experience shows that the best method is to dilute 1-3 tablespoons of dishwashing agent into a warm bowl of water which is used to soak a cotton fabric.

Letting the iron sit on the cloth for 3-4 hours allows for the full desaturation of the staining and the burned particles. Wipe and rinse the soleplate of the iron with a clean and dry cloth – buff with a microfibre towelette to ensure full grime removal.

7. Soak in Lemon for a Clean Iron

One of best and quickest ways on how to clean bottom of iron is to soak a cloth with lemon juice and let it sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature.

Do not turn the iron on until you’ve made sure that it’s completely rinsed from the lemon juice residue, otherwise the carbohydrates locked in the acid will “cook” and further cause issues.

For the best solution with a lemon, place a lemon slice on the affected area and turn the iron over so its weight is pressing onto the slice – let that sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature.

Rinse with warm water and buff out with a clean microfibre towel or cotton cloth for the best results.

8. High Acidity Vinegar

High acidity vinegar is considered a vinegar with an acidity above 13%. Even distilled vinegar, which is regularly classified at 10%, is not as acidic, which means that this cleaning method requires some hand and skin protection (high acidity vinegar is a skin irritant).

This solution requires that you put some manual effort in by scrubbing the back of the iron with the non-abrasive side of a sponge or a microfibre cloth.

The acid will start dissolving whatever is stuck to the iron, scrub only after you’ve seen a chemical reaction like bubbling of fizzing.

9. Acetone and nail polish remover

Acetone and nail polish removers are very effective in removing sticky, synthetic residue from the bottom of an iron. It can be safely used on ceramic, metal and Teflon iron plates, however, make sure not to leave it too long onto the surfaces as metal will start to discolour especially if it has a zing coating.

Use a make-up removing pad and place a small amount of either acetone or nail polish remover onto it – use the pad to scrub the surface and see if it’s starting to lift up the stain.

If not, let the acetone sit for no more than 5-10 minutes then use a make-up removing cotton pad to soak up the residue and further buff the surface out.

Use distilled alcohol to neutralize the nail polish remover residues and the acetone residues which are left onto the surface. Degreasers like window cleaning solutions also work quite well – remember to rinse if you decide to use one.

10. Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol has the same chemical values as pure ethanol with some additives to make it undrinkable so it is not sold as a substitute for regular ethanol. Denatured alcohol evaporates quite quickly which is the main mechanism for cleaning a dirty or burned iron soleplate.

The evaporation starts lifting the grime form the plate, making it easier for you to wipe it off using a microfibre cloth.

If you are looking for professional cleaning, you want to learn more about the different safe home cleaning methods you can use around the flat or house, subscribe for more cleaning industry related news on

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