Stop what you are doing. Run over to your iron and take a look at that heating plate. Is it gross? Chances are, there is a bit of buildup that you need to take care of. If you don’t, that buildup will often start to burn and stain your fabrics when you use the iron in steam mode. We asked the editors around the SeamsandScissors, FaveQuilts and AllFreeSewing office how they clean their irons, and here here are some of our favorite easy tips and tricks to clean your iron at home before you resort to buying the expensive tube of iron cleaning cream (or a whole new iron).
How to Clean Your Iron
1. Dryer Sheets
Yep, you read that right. Good ol’ dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are fabulous at cleaning any built up starch or heat-n-bond reside you might have on your heating plate. Grab a few fresh dryer sheets from the box and turn your iron on low with no steam. Run the dryer over the sheets for a few minutes and then over a slightly damp hand towel. Turn your iron over and, TAAA-DAHHHH, you should be good to go.
Pour vinegar on an old hand towel and allow the heat plate to sit on the damp towel for a 5-10 minutes. Heat the iron to medium and iron the towel for a few minutes. Keep your head back unless you want to really clear your sinus cavities! Pass the iron a few times over a clean towel when you are done to remove any buildup.
Yes, toothpaste. The cheap, white, non-gel kind. Put a dab on a soft cloth and scrub while the iron is very slightly warm to the touch. Be careful it’s not too hot or you’ll burn yourself. The natural abrasives in the toothpaste will take care of any built up gunk and mineral deposits.
4. Baking Soda
A paste made with baking soda and water will work much the same as the toothpaste above, but will smell less minty-fresh.
This is the perfect solution if you happen to have anything waxy stuck to your iron. Heat the iron to high and iron the paper. The wax should absorb into the newspaper and leave your iron. After the wax is removed, be sure to clean the iron with one of the methods above to be sure.
6. Wet Sponge
If you happen to have scorched some fabric, chances are some might have stuck to the iron. In this case, place a wet sponge on your ironing board and immediately pressed the hot iron to the sponge. The drastic change in temperature should release the burned of fabric.
This method is to be used sparingly and carefully. Too abrasive of a cleaning will damage the heating plate. Sprinkle salt on a damp towel and iron back and forth vigorously but carefully. This is should scrub off any really stubborn stains. Allow the iron to cool completely and brush any salt away from the steam holes.
8. Losing steam? Baking soda, cotton swabs and vinegar.
If your iron is losing it’s steam, chances are the poor thing is all stuffed up. Mineral deposits are blocking it’s steam vents, but don’t worry, they are easy to clean. First, make sure the iron is COLD. Make a paste with baking soda and water and carefully rub the paste into the steam openings on the plate. Then, with a clean swab dip into some vinegar and rub the holes again. The reaction will loosen any built up reside at the opening of the holes. Carefully brush away any remaining baking soda/residue and try the iron again. If this has helped, but not completely remedied the situation, drain the water reservoir and fill half way with vinegar. Run the steam function until the reservoir is dry.
Finally, if the water where you live is excessively “hard” – be sure to either use only distilled water in your iron or remove water from the water chamber of the iron while it is still hot to keep it dry and prevent a buildup of mineral deposits.
Though thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable, certain aspects of sewing are also difficult to manage. From threading a needle to keeping track of your sewing supplies, the little challenges of sewing can add up to make for a draining and frustrating process. However, it doesn’t have to be. We here at Seams and Scissors have compiled 28 Sewing Hacks That Will Change Your Life that will make your sewing experience easy as pie. These amazingly clever tips will save you so much time and allow you to create fun and creative sewing projects without stress. Once you learn these amazing tips and tricks, you won’t believe you ever lived without them.