Has your ironing not been going so, well, smooth lately? Then your iron is probably due for a thorough cleaning.
Over time, mineral deposits can develop on an iron's soleplate
, clog its steam ducts, and pollute its water reservoir. (Spray starch and detergent and fabric softener residue can gum up the works, too.) Although these deposits are relatively harmless at first, they'll eventually build up, cause clothing to pucker while ironing -- and eventually stain your clothes.
Performing routine iron maintenance cuts down on the number of times you have to deep-clean, and will also ensure your iron is in tip-top shape for years to come.
Here, a list of simple tasks that will ease the process
TACKLE THE RESERVOIR
You'll know the inner chamber needs TLC when you notice white, salt-like deposits collecting inside the soleplate's holes, or steam vents.
1. Pour distilled white vinegar
into the reservoir, up to the ¼-full point.
2. Plug the iron in; select the steam setting.
Let sit for five to ten minutes, and unplug.
3. Drain any remaining vinegar mixture into the sink.
Tilt the iron upside-down in the sink basin and allow it to drain fully.
4. Repeat steps one, two and three, using only clean water.
Still seeing deposits? Repeat steps one through three until they're gone.
5. Flush and rinse
the reservoir with clean water.
6. Plug the iron back in and do a test-run
on an old rag to be sure it's properly flushed.
Going forward, don't leave water sitting in the iron between uses; you won't need to clean the reservoir as often and deposits will be slower to form. Also consider using distilled water (about $1.50 per gallon at hardware stores), which doesn't contain the hard minerals that cause buildup.
SCRUB THE SOLEPLATE
Always do this when the iron is cool to the touch, and turned off; unplug it to be safe.
1. Stir a bit of baking soda and a few drops of water into a thick paste
and work it over the plate with a soft, damp cloth. (Soap, water and a non-abrasive nylon scourer will do the job, too. Never use steel wool or the like, as it will damage the sensitive surface.)
2. Turn the cloth over
and remove the paste with the clean side.
WIPE DOWN THE EXTERIOR
Use a damp sponge so you're not transferring dirt from your hands onto clothing. Stubborn grime is easily eradicated with a spot of mild dishwashing detergent.