It’s a common question, and one with multiple answers. What is the best water to use in a steam iron? We are asked on a weekly basis "Can I use tap water in my iron" and "what is the best water to use in my iron"
There have been many theories, people claiming that being able to use (and not being able to use) tap water is a myth.
There are many truth and half-truths on the internet surrounding this topic, which is why I have put this guide together. In this guide, we briefly look at what steam iron and garment steamers are, before moving on to the type of water that can be used inside them. Detailed and factually correct, this is the guide you are looking for.
If you don't have the time to read through our guide the short answer to "what is the best water to put in my steam iron" if you live in a hard water area is a mix of 50% distilled water (pre-boiled) and 50% regular tap water. This is the general advice from most manufacturers, combined with regular calc-clean flushes to keep your iron performing to it's max
What is the best water to use in a steam iron?
If you don't have the time to read through our guide the short answer to the best water to put in my steam iron if you live in a hard water area is a mix of 50% distilled water (pre-boiled) and 50% regular tap water. This is the general advice from most manufacturers, combined with regular calc-clean flushes to keep your iron performing to it's max
Types of Water
All modern steam irons, generators, and clothes steamers are able to use tap water. Of course, this can also depend on the type of tap water that is being used. By this, we mean the hardness of the water – something which varies across the UK (very soft to very hard) depending on the region. Below, we will take a look at this and the effects that hard water can have.
Hard water typically contains a higher concentration of minerals, like calcium, which causes a build-up of limescale in steam irons over time (as well as kettles and other appliances). Over time, this reduces their overall efficiency.
In the UK, around 60% of the country is classed as having hard water, and if you live in such an area, then it is advised that you remember to follow calc-clean procedures while using the tap water normally.
Distilled Water (Pure Water, De-Ionised Water)
Many people on the web suggest using distilled water for steam irons and garment steamers as the impurities and minerals have been removed from this. However, they are wrong, and you should not be using it. In fact, most steam iron companies are clearly stating this in the instruction manuals as well as on their websites.
This is because it can cause the iron to split and leak. So if you plan on using distilled water, you must at least mix it 50/50 with tap water.
Most steam irons now feature a calc-clean function, which requires you to rinse out the boiler area and flush the calcium deposits away. Some of the cheaper models will use special cartridges instead which will need to be replaced regularly.
Regardless of the method that your iron uses, you should follow the cleaning instructions at regular intervals, or whenever the alert light comes on.
Home Water Softeners
If you have a water softener installed in your home, then you should never use this water by itself. Although the risk of limescale is greatly reduced, there are other materials within it that could eventually clog your iron and cause splitting, as well as brown stains. You should only ever use water from a drinking tap, such as your kitchen, to keep your iron efficient and healthy.
Bottled and other Water
The mineral content found in bottled water can increase over time and end up reducing the efficiency of your iron. You should also avoid ever using vinegar, perfumed water, or any liquid that contains chemicals as this can cause damage that results in clogged steam nozzles, as well as brown water spots and reduced performance overall.
What is Best Steam Irons for Hard Water?
If you are looking for the best steam iron for hard water the head over to this page here.
We have also covered garment steamers, and steam generator irons and highlighted models that can really handle hard water (better than others at least), then you need to look for the ones that contain a full anti-calc or calc-clean system. This will usually involve a permanent cartridge system that keeps the calcium deposits in the water tank, as long as you rinse it out on a regular basis.
Water Hardness by Region
South East, Central, East Anglia, East Yorkshire: hard to very hard
South West: soft
North-East, North-West, Lakes: soft to slightly hard
Mostly soft to moderately soft
Moderately Hard - except coastal areas where it is soft
Varies from soft in the north and east, to hard in the south and west
Hopefully, this guide has answered your questions about which water is best to use in your steam iron or garment steamer. With the internet filled with so many conflicting ideas about what you can and cannot use, it is important to have all the facts in one concise location.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave a message for us in the comments, we love hearing from you and always appreciate your feedback.
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.