How to clean a stainless steel iron sole plate

Written by mary lougee
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How to clean a stainless steel iron sole plate
Steam irons apply damp moisture to clothes to effectively remove wrinkles. (iron image by Goran Bogicevic from

Stainless steel irons develop debris on the bottom of the sole plate from a build-up of minerals in tap water, dust and excessive use of starch when ironing. These substances appear as a clear film on the sole plate or can be any shade of light brown to dark brown. The iron starts sticking to fabrics and not gliding smoothly over the clothes. Brown and tan particles release from the steam holes in the iron and adhere to fabrics, causing stains and burns. Clean the iron with a little vinegar and water.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Large measuring cup
  • Spoon
  • Old towel or cloth
  • Steel wool

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  1. 1

    Pour one cup of water in a large measuring cup. Add 1/3 cup of white vinegar to the water, and stir with a spoon to mix thoroughly.

  2. 2

    Empty any water in the stainless steel iron into the sink. Turn the iron over so that the top opening points down into the sink, and let the water drain out.

  3. 3

    Pour the vinegar and water mixture into the iron in the top filling opening. Plug the iron in, and place it on a flat solid surface.

  4. 4

    Let the iron start to steam and continue steaming for two minutes. Place an old towel or cloth on the flat surface, and iron the towel or cloth.

  5. 5

    Turn the towel or cloth over in a different position as it accumulates the brown or white debris coming out of the iron steam holes. Continue this process until no more debris exits the iron.

  6. 6

    Unplug the iron, and let it cool completely. Use a piece of steel wool to rub any additional build-ups or discolouration on the sole of the iron. Pour out the vinegar and water mixture and replace with distilled water. Let the iron steam for 10 minutes to remove the vinegar odour.

Tips and warnings

  • Use distilled water in a steam iron to prevent chemical and mineral deposits from forming in the iron and stopping up the steam holes in the soleplate. Household tap water that is filtered contains some minerals that clog up an iron.
  • Use caution when turning the towel or cloth to a clean side for iron cleaning. The cloth is hot and can burn hands and fingers.

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