How to Clean an Iron

Clean iron sitting on iron board next to folded clothes

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Our iron is our go-to tool to turn wrinkled and rumpled clothing into pressed and perfect outfits. But figuring out how to clean an iron, that can be the hard part. These simple steps can help turn that scaly stained iron into a useful tool.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15-20 minutes

What You'll Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Mild dish soap (non-stick sole plates)
  • Clean cloth
  • Baking soda (non-coated sole plates)
  • Metal polish (non-coated sole plates)
  • Water
  • Fine Steel Wool (non-coated sole plates)
  • Aluminum foil (for plastic removal)
  • Salt (for plastic removal)
Materials to clean iron laid on white surface

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


  1. Read the User Manual

    Reading your user manual with give you a good idea of how to care for your iron. After reading it, you'll know if your iron requires distilled water, or descales itself. Take a moment and read the manual.

    User manual next to iron on blue and white ironing board

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Clean Inside of the Iron

    To clean the inside of a steam iron, you'll need to know if your iron automatically descales water using a replaceable filter. Make sure to replace your filter on the recommended schedule. Other irons may need to be descaled manually. Pouring a mix of one part water and one part vinegar into the water chamber of the iron and steaming it out will work wonders. Repeat a second time with plain water.

    Iron steaming out water and vinegar to clean insides

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Clean Non-Coated Sole Plates

    For non-coated irons, you can use baking soda or even a metal polish cleaner to clean the sole plate. For sole plates that need a little extra help, extra fine steel wool can be used as a last resort.

    Extra fine steel wool in front of iron sole plates being wiped with white towel

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Clean Non-Stick Sole Plates

    For non-stick coated irons, clean with a soft cloth, warm water, and mild detergent. Always wait until your iron is completely cool and unplugged. Never use an abrasive cleaner. Abrasives will wear away the coating on your iron.

    Non-stick sole plates on iron wiped down with white towel and mild detergent

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


    • If plastic has been melted on your sole plate, it can be removed. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the ironing board and sprinkle it with salt. Ironing over the salt and foil will help loosen the plastic. Never try to scrape the plastic off with metal tools. It may permanently damage the sole plate.
    • If the vent holes of your iron have become clogged with starch or buildup, cleaning them with cotton swabs dipped in a 1 to 1 ratio of water and vinegar can help clean the holes.
    Iron vent holes cleaned with cotton swap and white vinegar

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska