How to clean burnt iron

Cleaning your burnt iron is nothing short of a battle. Over time, your trusty appliance may, nay – will develop unwanted quirks. We’re talking scorch marks, an unsavory aroma, or perhaps even some obstinate residue from your now ruined garments.

Buying a brand-new iron will definitely cost you less than replacing your wardrobe every other week. But before you throw your burnt iron away, maybe we can try and save it.

Fear not, for I shall unveil a formidable arsenal of iron-cleaning strategies to restore your appliance to its former glory. And, if it doesn’t work, you can always go with plan B.

In this article:

  • Why should you clean your iron?
  • Cleaning the soleplate
    • Iron over salt and baking paper:
    • Scrub with baking soda:
    • Wipe with toothpaste:
    • Rub your iron with Paracetamol:
    • Clean out with cotton swabs:
    • Rub with dryer sheets:
    • Wipe the surface with nail polish remover:
  • Cleaning the water reservoir
    • Drain and clean:
    • Reservoir filter maintenance:
  • How to preserve your iron
    • Know your fabrics:
    • Use a barrier:
    • Embrace distilled water:
    • After-ironing cleanup:
  • Conclusion

Why should you clean your iron?

Before we plunge into the iron cleaning itself, it’s essential to understand the significance of maintaining your iron. Neglected irons can inflict damage to your clothes. Those include stubborn scorch marks, snagged garments, and even fabric-staining burn marks.

As if that weren’t enough, a poorly maintained iron might even lead to more catastrophic consequences like fires. Thus, the need to embark on your iron-cleaning quest becomes abundantly clear.

Note: Attempt any of the methods below at your own discretion! Some techniques may seem strange, but most work like a charm.

Cleaning the soleplate

Our journey begins with the noble endeavour of cleaning the soleplate. Here, you will find a diverse array of weapons at your disposal, and it’s crucial to select the right one for the job.

Iron over salt and baking paper:

This method may seem a little odd and a little dangerous. That’s because there is risk involved. Then again, you’re handling a hot object, so there will always be a risk. Still, if you choose to attempt this method, be extra careful!

  • Begin by heating your iron, sans steam.
  • On the ironing board, lay a piece of baking paper, then scatter a modest layer of salt on it. Normal paper would also work (the iron isn’t hot enough to set it ablaze), but we want to minimise the risk.
  • With your iron at the ready, execute swift, circular motions over the salt for a minute. You may need to resupply the salt a couple of times.
  • When you’re done and the dust settles, unplug your iron, let it cool, and remove any remnants with a damp microfiber cloth.

Note: Don’t use this method if you have a teflon soleplate. It will get scratched.

Scrub with baking soda:

If you’re a regular reader, I know what you’re thinking. “Baking soda? Again?” Yes! You know baking soda can be used for a myriad of cleaning purposes. So why not this? Here’s how to do it:

  • Employ the baking soda by creating a robust paste with two parts baking soda and one part water.
  • Apply this paste to the soleplate, but exercise caution to avoid obstructing the steam vents.
  • Clean up your iron using a toothbrush, then triumphantly wipe away the residue with a damp microfiber cloth.

Note: Don’t use this method if you have a teflon soleplate. It will get scratched.

Wipe with toothpaste:

“Now you’re just pulling my leg”, you’re probably thinking. But I assure you, I’m as serious as a tax inspector. Here’s how to clean your iron with toothpaste:

  • You will find a surprising ally in the form of plain white toothpaste (gel toothpaste won’t work in this scenario).
  • Apply a modest amount to the affected areas, and with a damp microfiber cloth, to eliminate the burn marks. You want to avoid the steam vents, if possible.
  • In case any toothpaste gets into your steam vents despite your best efforts, do not despair. Fill your iron’s reservoir with distilled water, then place the iron upright on an aged towel. Engage the steam mode for a few minutes while it rests on the ironing board, and hold the steam button for 20-30 seconds. Repeat this action 5-6 times until the steam flows freely.

Rub your iron with Paracetamol:

Paracetamol is another surprising burnt iron cleaner. This one will require quite a bit of dexterity, though. Attempt with extra caution!

  • Elevate your iron to its highest setting and grasp a paracetamol tablet with a trusty pair of tweezers.
  • Start rubbing the tablet across the soleplate. But heed caution to avoid direct contact with the searing surface.
  • You’ll notice the tablet gradually transforming into a gel. The process will dissolve the black residue it encounters. Repeat as necessary, and finish the process by running the hot iron over a clean, damp towel.

Clean out with cotton swabs:

When the steam holes get clogged with grime, you can use a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar. Its acidic nature ensures the grime and mineral deposits are dealt with.

Rub with dryer sheets:

  • In the absence of traditional tools, unveil the dryer sheet as a capable substitute.
  • Set your iron to its lowest setting, then embark on the journey to cleanse the plate by placing the dryer sheet on the board and ironing over it. Replace the sheet a few times until you get the desired effect.

Wipe the surface with nail polish remover:

  • If all else fails, you can try using nail polish remover as a last resort.
  • Activate your iron, grant it time to heat up, and then, with a cotton ball dipped in nail polish remover, begin the process of wiping it. Hold the cotton with a pair of tweezers – you don’t want your fingers anywhere near a hot iron! Now marvel as the black disappears before your eyes.

Cleaning the water reservoir

While the soleplate is crucial in our campaign, we mustn’t overlook the water reservoir. It’s a potential breeding ground for mould and unpleasant odours.

Drain and clean:

  • Begin by draining any remaining water from the reservoir.
  • Next, concoct a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar.
  • Elevate your iron, select a high heat with steam, and let it work until the solution has nearly evaporated.
  • Following this, permit your iron to cool, then drain the remaining liquid.
  • To conclude, fill the tank with distilled water, elevate the iron, and select the same high-heat steam setting. Allow it to operate for 5-10 minutes, ensuring a thorough rinsing.

Reservoir filter maintenance:

  • For iron models equipped with reservoir filters, put them into a vinegar-water bath.
  • Scrub the filters with a dish brush, rinse them thoroughly, and permit them to dry before reinstating them.

How to preserve your iron

To avoid future endeavours and maintain your iron’s pristine state, consider these tips:

Know your fabrics:

Different fabrics have varying ironing requirements, and some may not withstand high heat or steam. Always heed the instructions on clothing tags. When uncertain, start by using the lowest heat setting and test an interior seam.

Use a barrier:

Safeguard your iron and your garments by introducing a clean press cloth or a thin cotton towel during ironing. These loyal defenders serve as an effective bulwark against synthetic fabric-induced residue.

Embrace distilled water:

Most areas in London have hard water. Hard water leads to limescale deposits which can ruin your appliances. In these cases, distilled water emerges as your champion. It sustains your iron’s steam prowess and keeps the insidious mineral buildup on the soleplate at bay.

After-ironing cleanup:

After each ironing, diligently wipe your iron’s cooled soleplate with a damp microfiber cloth. You should especially do this if you’ve employed starch.


Cleaning your burnt iron is no walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. Of course, replacing your iron is always the easiest way, but by learning how to clean and take care of it, you can save yourself some money on top of knowing you’re not contributing to rampant consumerism.

And, as always, if you need us, we’re never more than a phone call away.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.