How do you maintain your iron?

Hi all,

I’m updating the irons content for CHOICE and am interested to know from the CHOICE Community how you maintain your iron, both inside (the water) and out (the soleplate), for possible inclusion in a “maintenance tips” article.

  • Do you use a commercial descaler specific to the task, or inexpensive remedies such as vinegar and water?
  • How do you clean any burnt material or residue off the soleplate? Paper bag, etc?
  • Does your iron or steam generator have a built-in decalcifying function and do you use it? Do you find it effective?
  • How often do you clean it - this of course depends on the type of ironing you do and the water hardness.

Thanks in advance and hopefully we can all share some tips!



I find a strict regime of leaving the iron in the cupboard is excellent, no maintenance is required at all.


Indeed! That’s what I do - or just buy clothes that don’t require the ironing. :rofl:


We are agreed on that point, my iron hasn’t seen the light of day for years! I’m sure its in the back of the cupboard somewhere…


Town/city water supplies often have quite a high mineral content - Calcium, Magnesium etc salts, and these will end up all over any places in your iron where water is evaporating.
The best solution to avoid scale is to use rainwater, or if you must due to no rain, commercially available demineralised water.


This is exactly what we do…use rainwater/deionised/demineralised water. Using such prevents the steam holes blocking over time.

We used to have a stainless steel soleplate which we cleaned using Iron Magic from time ro time when the iron did not glide smoothly/with low resistance. But since changing to a ceramic soleplate (a Choice recommended iron), it doesn’t seem to have residue build-up on the soleplate like the SS one.

So the only maintenence is curling the cord and placing into a cupboard.


I’m fairly sure I do the same, except I’m not sure exactly where it is - most likely a cupboard. I know I have an ironing board in the laundry …

Rumour has it, with our incredibly high calcium levels in this town, that distilled or RO water is a must. Just a rumour as far as I’m concerned.

@kim - I believe it would be appropriate for Choice to include all aspects of iron maintenance, as some users push their iron to the limits …


Honestly … its about the only real use for the damn things, at least it would be fun :wink:


I think these must be cordless ones…otherwise the extension lead would be a bit of an anchor around one’s neck.


About 450 mg/L TDS, just over 200 mg/L as CaCO3 here as I read it … kills water appliances, everything gets encrusted in solid white …

A small RO unit does the trick, but for me, 2 litres of bottled water from Woolies would last, well, forever.

I read that as ‘cutting the cord’ - which is a much better idea I reckon :wink:


My iron is a “travelling” iron I bought in the 1980’s. Lightweight, basic, no steam. Still works well, the only issue is fraying of the cord where it joins the iron, which I fixed with a piece of clear tubing to avoid further abrasion.
Cleaning - mostly crud melted and stuck on to the sole plate. I heat it up, rub it on a scouring pad, those green non-metal kitchen scouring pads, then wipe it on a thick rag which eventually goes in the wash.
My iron gets very little use now. Occasionally I iron a collar or “best dress” but mostly I use it for sewing, to iron back seams etc to get a better construction or ease of machining.

I used to iron my cotton work shirts (bright orange with reflective strips) as I had to portray a professional image. Now I work on-farm I don’t care what I look like.


We do iron, as we have a young man who wears uniforms.

While the ceramic sole on our iron seems to keep it reasonably clean, there is some burnt/melted brown residue. I clean this off periodically with a soft green scourer when the iron is cool.

Our iron has a cleaning function where it supposedly uses steam to blow out any gunk in the steam holes. A good way to let off steam!

As to how often; well that depends on how dirty it seems, and IF we have the time to fiddle.

This iron hasn’t needed it, but earlier irons got a periodic clean out with vinegar, same as our earlier generation of kettles.


I used to iron for work when in the big office. Agree that tap water is a bad option. Always used demin water or rain water without any problems. The cheap irons always seamed to fail, leak water or get brown stuff on the sole plate long before scale appeared.

At home the big ironing station just needed a regular descale cycle and ran fine on tap water. Stuff sticking to the sole plate was the main issue, with non abrasive wiping while still hot the easy way.

As there was no cupboard to put the iron away in, stopping work also worked a treat.


Oh my, am I doing something wrong, have had the same sunbeam iron for 21 years and have always only used Melbourne tap water. No maintenance required, just plug it in, fill it up and away I go.

PS I iron once a week and we’re a family of 4, I hate wrinkly clothes!!


We have a Phillips Azur 1200 from roughly 2008-ish that has a teflon coated plate, steam, spray, and a cleaning button. There might be a total of 10 items we still iron between the two of us, rarely all at once, but it wasn’t always this way when working and wearing suits, shirts and ties, and for the partner, dresses. A neighbour irons her family’s underwear, clothes, and sheets every week, but the demographics posting on this thread seem not to be her, yet. :laughing:

Re maintenance, although very, very lightly used, nothing but Melbourne tap water and once every few blue moons a wipe across a soft damp cloth while hot for the sole plate. The cleaning button ejects calcium buildup fairly well.


Melbourne water TDS looks fairly good - <50 mg/L in most cases - we have around ten times that. Drinking water here is like a complete meal. Even Adelaide water, considered a weapon of mass destruction by some, sits around the 200-350 mg/L TDS. There’s lots of links to reports from the various water corporations like THIS one. I’m not a believer in these kinds of reports generally, but the health of your iron from TDS ingestion is probably not something they are going to cover up :wink:


As I said, touch wood, 21 years of Melbourne water hasn’t done my iron any harm yet. Nor has it done my stomach any harm after 51 years! Love drinking straight from the tap.


I too resist ironing as much as possible and try to buy clothing that does not require it! My steam iron is many years old and is used maybe once every six months. It has had no maintenance and still works amazingly well when required.


We use the Steam Cleaning function every so often, not a common occurrence as ironing is done to the minimum level required in this household. In the Brisbane area we don’t notice too much buildup of salts on our iron but we occasionally use demineralised water as a birthday present for the iron to reduce any buildup.

The sole plate is a polished Stainless Steel (SS) one so is treated gently to avoid scratching. Any gummy buildup that occurs we remove using a bicarb of soda paste. Once when it got scratched by a grandchild we used wet and dry sandpapers and a very flat surface to remove the offending mark. We went through the grades until 3000 grade but 1800-2000 would have been sufficient in my opinion (which was ignored by the Governor of the Iron). My personal preference used to be “buy a new one” but we are trying to reduce wastage and the polishing cost was cheap material wise, and just required time which we now have in abundance. I prefer the SS plate (but any polished metal plate would be similar) for this reason of ease of resurfacing…


If you iron clothes, they are the ones you wear. You wash them, you iron them again. It is a vicious cycle. I and spouse sometimes iron a crumpled teatowel or pillowslip and just the clothes we are about to wear. I do iron sheets for visitors, though. I just use tap water (we have great water, though) and have not had any problems with the iron. In my younger days, and other irons, I guess I did have a few hiccups. Once you iron something that should not be ironed, or at too high temperature, the bottom of the iron might need help as it will stick to everything. I have always been able to simply iron a cloth (maybe using the edge of the board to add to the pick up of goop) and maybe need to use the clean function to clear any goop from steam holes.


Fortunately, I didn’t inherit the ironing gene!


Thanks everyone for your useful comments and handy tips!