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Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Clean Your Iron

One of my most used and under-appreciated sewing tools is my iron. I use it pretty much every day on my projects (not necessarily my own clothes, ha.), and having a great iron makes all the difference! The more steam the better, in my opinion.  My husband spoiled me with a Rowenta Steamforce for Christmas one year and it is a dream to work with. So much steam!  I have noticed, however, that when I'm not taking good care of it (aka when I accidentally iron the wrong side of interfacing and then don't bother to clean it or empty it), my iron can get a little grungy.  Not only that, but the holes occasionally leave spots on the projects I'm ironing. Not good.  So I decided it was time for a little iron housekeeping and today I'm going to teach you some great techniques for cleaning your iron, both inside and out! 

First, I want to say that you might have seen a variety of "cheats" out there for easier ways to clean your iron.  We have put several of them to the test and quite honestly, they weren't easier and they didn't even work. #majorfail  If you want to see some of those non-working-cheater-methods in action, you can check out our tested-and-failed video on YouTube. It's kind of funny. But don't get distracted by that quite yet. First I'm going to teach you the techniques that DO work!  And they're not difficult at all, so I'm not sure why people are trying to make a cheater method. That's discussion for another day -- let's get started cleaning that iron! 

First of all, take out your iron and do NOT plug it in yet. We are going to be doing the first cleaning steps with a cool iron.  

Baking soda will be our first step. Take out a container and put 1 part of water for every 2 parts of baking soda.  For my iron I used 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water. 

Mix the water and baking soda to form a paste. 

Use a spatula or something similar to spread the baking soda paste onto the surface of the iron. Be sure to cover the whole surface, not just the worst parts. 

Let the baking soda sit on the surface for several minutes. 

Use a clean, wet washcloth to wipe the surface of the iron.  It may take a little scrubbing to get some of the gunk off.  If you don't want to get your washcloth too gross you can also use a sturdy brand of paper towels to scrub.  Clean the entire plate of the iron. Repeat if necessary. 

The baking soda alone took off most of the buildup from my iron. It did take a lot of scrubbing because it had interfacing glue baked on there pretty good.  If you look at the top of the iron, there are still some spots left.  Time for the next phase if yours isn't fully clean either! 

Next you can use white vinegar.  Pour some vinegar on a folded paper towel to wet it.  You want the paper towel to be damp but not dripping. (I'm sure you could use a regular washcloth too.)  Lay the vinegar cloth on the iron and let it set there for several minutes. 

After letting it sit, wipe off the surface of the iron. The vinegar will help flake off remaining spots. It removed a lot more of the spots that were there.  

If you still have some spots remaining, you can repeat with the vinegar or move on to the next step. 

For the tiny grooves and spots that won't come clean, you can use toothpaste! I assume any kind will work, but a plain white paste may be best. (This is the kind I use.) 

Squeeze some toothpaste onto a clean cloth and dip a Q-tip in it.  Use it to scrub the small spots on the iron. They came off pretty easily for me without added water, but you can try making it sudsy if dry toothpaste alone doesn't work.  

Ta-da!  Look how clean and shiny my iron plate is now!  Pretty awesome that it all came clean, huh! 

With the outside of the iron clean, you're now ready to clean the inside. 

Look how bad my ironing board has become from the gross water inside it! That's partly from forgetting to use distilled water (it's always best to used distilled water rather than tap water) and partly from forgetting to empty my iron after each use. 

Did you know you're supposed to empty the water out after each use?  Yup, you are!  It make a big difference in the cleanliness of the iron and how well it keeps its water seal. 

So let's get our irons cleaned out and never make that mistake again, mmmkay? 

Grab some distilled water from the store. It's very inexpensive and my hubby brought this one from Walmart. 

Empty the existing water from your iron if you haven't already done so.  Fill it up with distilled water, shake it around, and pour it back out. 

Then fill up the iron with distilled water again.  Plug the iron in and turn it on the hottest setting.  Use your steam shooting button if you have one. If not, simply iron on scraps of fabric that can get dirty.  Look how much gunk came out of my iron when I shot steam!  

My iron has a "self clean" function which basically just allows the water to drain out and wash the plate, so I did that too.  I repeated a few times until the water coming out was all clear.  If yours doesn't have a cleaning function, simply fill and steam and fill and steam until the iron seems to be cleaned out.  

Then empty the iron and leave the pouring area open so it can dry out between uses.  And promise yourself that you're going to take really good care of your iron from now on because prevention is way easier than cleaning!   

And that's it! My iron is all shiny and looks brand new.  I can't wait to use it on my next project, without having to worry about spots surprising me.  I think I might need a new ironing board pad now too, to celebrate how clean it is. Maybe I'll even make one myself. Stay tuned for that!  

And now it's your turn!  Good luck!  I hope your iron cleaning goes as well as mine did.  A great iron is a small investment and deserve a little TLC every now and then.

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

ps - As promised, here's the link to our YouTube video on how NOT to clean your iron.  Have fun watching but don't forget to come back and do it the way we like to call "the right way."  :) Happy watching!


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    Kids education


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