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Steam irons will get limescale at some point in their life, especially in the UK where 60% of the country has hard water (which causes calcium and mineral build-ups) in their taps.
As a result, they need to be cleaned on a regular basis, but which way is the best? There are a lot of guides on how to clean and descale your iron, but we think that doing it naturally tends to provide the best results, and is also pretty cost effective.
Using items that are typically found in your kitchen cupboard, this step by step guide will have your iron clean and descaled in no time at all.
Just make sure to follow each step closely, and always take extra care when it comes to cleaning nonstick soleplates.
What Causes Limescale?
Generally speaking, the hard water found in most of the UK is what causes the build-up of limescale in irons. Unfortunately, it is not entirely avoidable as tap water is actually the best to use for your iron.
Models that come with calc-clean are the best ones to go for in hard water areas, however, as they assist in the regular upkeep of your iron and tend to be more resistant.
If left untreated, the scale can leave deposits on your laundry, which can be frustrating and inconvenient.
Over time, the water can also cause clogs in the holes in the soleplate, which need to be cleaned out on a fairly regular basis to ensure that your iron is working at full efficiency.
What You Will Need
- Small bowl
- Hand towel
- Ironing board
- Small clothes
- Cotton buds
- Iron cleaner
The Step by Step for Cleaning Inside Your Iron
Step One: Make a Solution
Mix half a cup of water with half a cup of vinegar in a small bowl. This solution will help to remove odours in your iron, as well as assist with the removal of limescale and even disinfect the inside.
Plus, it can be used to reach those difficult areas. It’s a natural and cost effective way to clean. Fill the reservoir of the iron with the cleaning solution, and turn the iron on. Set it to the hottest possible setting.
Step Two: Run the Solution Through
Now that the iron is turned on and heated up, you need to run the solution through the system.
Place a hand towel on the ironing board and press the iron into it while you hold the steam button. Make sure to vent the steam in bursts that last 20-30 seconds for a total of a minute and a half.
Step Three: Empty the Reservoir
Make sure you tip any remaining solution out of the steam iron and wash it down the sink. Then, fill the reservoir with fresh water and repeat the steaming process from the previous step.
This will ensure that all of the vinegar is removed from the reservoir and the ductwork. When this is complete, drain all of the remaining water from the reservoir.
Step Four: Cleaning the Soleplate
Mix a solution of table salt and white vinegar, ensuring that you have equal parts of both, in a small bowl.
This will act as a mild abrasive and can be used to remove any stubborn build-ups on the plate. This is particularly useful if the soleplate has become scorched and no longer glides over clothing as it should.
Step Five: Apply the Solution
Apply the solution to the soleplate, making sure it has an even layer across its entirety. Use a soft cloth that is slightly damp to wipe the mixture off. Use slow but constant movements to do this. When you have finished, wipe any excess off with a separate cloth.
Reapply the solution as many times as necessary, repeating this process as many times as required to get the soleplate cleaned.
Make sure you are careful not to scratch the soleplate, however, as this can cause damage to the non-stick surface, such as rust and permanent discolouration.
Step Six: Cleaning the Ducts
Make sure you pay special attention to the ducts on the soleplate, as these will become clogged over time by the minerals and calcium found in water.
If your iron is having trouble when it comes to the production of steam, you can get rid of the scale build-up using a cotton bud to clean out the ducts and any visible residue.
Step Seven: Optional Step
If you have an iron that does not have a non-stick soleplate, then you can purchase some iron cleaner from your local supermarket.
This is because, while every soleplate can be cleaned with the salt and vinegar solution, some will benefit from the additional use of a heavy duty iron cleaner. Just make sure you do not use it on a non-stick soleplate.
If you would like to read the best clothes steamer then read here.
This is the best and most effective way to remove limescale from your iron as well as clean it.
Using natural, homemade solutions, your iron will be back to its usual, efficient, self in no time at all. Plus, this method is incredibly cost effective, which is great news for your wallet.
What did you think of our iron cleaning guide? Is it something that worked for you, or do you have other suggestions? We love hearing from you, so please let us know in the comments below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.