8 Easiest Ways To Clean An Iron

Along with many of the other appliances you use in your home, the iron is eventually going to get dirty and need to be cleaned up from time to time. From mineral spots to rust, the bottom of your iron, also known as the soleplate, can get pretty yucky. Minerals such as iron or calcium can also develop on the inside of your iron, causing it to leak brown or white liquids on your clothing, according to Hunker

While there are several over-the-counter products you can use to clean your iron, you do not have to make a special trip to the store to buy any. In fact, you may already have some effective cleaning products in your cabinets. And, if you don't have them at home, the good news is that they are relatively cheap. So, without further ado, here are eight of the easiest ways to clean your iron.

1. Baking soda

Baking soda is an amazing all-around cleaner for many items in your home, including your iron. It works by dissolving dirt and gunk — especially organic matter, Oregon State University chemistry professor May Nyman told Live Science. Baking soda is slightly abrasive, which is part of why it works. However, it is not so abrasive that it will scratch most surfaces. Another plus about using baking soda is that it is not harmful to humans.

For an effective way to remove mineral spots off the bottom of your iron, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl. Using a spatula, rub the paste over any spots on the bottom of the soleplate. Wipe the plate clean with a soft, damp cloth. To clean any remaining residue from the steam vents, use a cotton swab dipped in distilled water and wipe them away, advises Real Simple.

2. Salt

Salt is not just for flavoring food — you can also use it for an easy way to clean your iron. Salt is ​​sodium chloride, and its gritty texture makes it ideal for scrubbing surfaces. In fact, the edges of salt are much like that of sandpaper, according to Kitchn. Salt is also absorbent, which means it will help remove anything sticky from your iron's soleplate. Like baking soda, its abrasiveness is what makes it effective, but it is not so abrasive that it will damage a surface.

All you need for this quick cleaning trick is salt and a paper towel or a piece of paper. Simply sprinkle some salt on the towel. Then, turn your iron on a low setting and when it is warm, run it back and forth over the salt a few times. Turn the iron off and wipe the plate with a soft cloth after it cools (via PopSugar).

3. Dryer sheets

Another product you may have in your home that has multiple uses is dryer sheets. If you have never thought about using them to clean surfaces, maybe your should. You can use them with warm water to clean scorched pans, and they also work well to remove gunk from the bottom of your iron. Author Donna Smallin Kuper told Today that the conditioning chemicals in dryer sheets that make your laundry soft are probably the reason why dryer sheets work so well at cleaning.

It is easy and mess-free to use a dryer sheet to get your iron looking good as new. All you need to do is place a sheet on your ironing board and turn your iron on a low setting. When the iron heats up, simply run it over the sheet. Bob Vila notes that when the iron is clean, it should move smoothly over any fabric.

4. Acetaminophen

When you think of acetaminophen, or Tylenol, you probably think of getting rid of a headache. A burnt, caked-up iron might give you a headache — and believe it or not, you can use acetaminophen to get rid of both, according to House Beautiful. if you find yourself needing to clean your iron in a pinch and do not have some of the above methods available, then reaching for a Tylenol might just do the trick. Acetaminophen works especially well on rusted areas on the soleplate. 

To try out this method, turn your iron to a hot setting. When it is hot, carefully rub two tablets on the rusty areas with a pair of tweezers. When you see that the spots are rubbed away, go over the plate with a clean, soft cloth. When the iron is cool, wipe out any of the steam vents with cotton swabs dampened with distilled water.

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste is known for keeping your smile fresh and bright, but it can clean so much more. According to Good Housekeeping, you can use it to remove tarnish from silver and water stains from wood surfaces. And, of course, you can use it to clean your iron. Like baking soda and salt, toothpaste is effective for cleaning because it is abrasive. In fact, some might brands of toothpaste might actually have baking soda in them, which makes them even better. For the best results, be sure to use a white toothpaste rather than any colored gel brands.   

Toothpaste works for especially well for removing built-up stains and any scorched areas on the soleplate. All you have to do is rub some toothpaste on the bottom of your iron and wipe it away with a soft damp cloth, notes The Spruce. Make sure the plate is cool before applying any of the toothpaste.

6. Newspaper

You have probably heard of using newspaper to clean windows, but it works just as well on the bottom of an iron. The soft fibers in newspaper make it ideal for this purpose. Soy-based inks also guarantee a streak-free shine if you use it on glass, per HuffPost. While you won't need to worry about streaks on the bottom of your iron, it is good to know that you can use newspaper if or when you need to.

Newspaper is especially useful for removing sticky spots, notes Today. Place a piece of newspaper on your ironing board and turn your iron to the highest setting. When the iron is hot, run it over the paper several times until the bottom comes clean. Remember that salt mentioned earlier? If you are dealing with an especially difficult residue, you can sprinkle some salt on the newspaper for some added abrasion that might help scrub grime away.

7. Aluminum foil

If your iron is plagued by hard-water stains, then cleaning it with aluminum foil might be the solution you are looking for. Foil has many cleaning uses, ranging from polishing silver to removing rust from chrome, to name just a few. Unsurprisingly, it is the aluminum in the foil that makes it a perfect cleaning agent, as noted by Kitchn

All you need to do is lay a piece of aluminum foil on your ironing board and turn your iron on a hot setting. When the iron is hot, simply run your hot iron over it a few times and gunk will disappear. If all goes according to plan, any stains that were on the soleplate will separate from the iron and stick to the foil instead, rendering your iron as good as new. The magic behind why this technique works has to do with the metals that are in aluminum foil.

8. Vinegar

Vinegar is another product that is good to keep around for cleaning purposes. It is a low on the pH scale, which makes it acidic — and that is why it works on so many surfaces, per Live Science. Like baking soda and salt, you can use vinegar to clean many items in your home without worrying about causing any harm. For cleaning your iron, SF Gate recommends a solution that is half water and half vinegar. Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and wipe the iron plate clean. You can use a cotton swab or toothbrush and apply to tough spots or in the steam vents.

If your iron leaves mineral stains on your clothes, you can also use vinegar to clean the inside of it. Pour a half and half mixture of it and water in the iron and turn it on, allowing it to heat up. After 10 minutes, turn the iron off and pour out the mixture.