What causes a clothes steam iron to drip water?

Updated February 21, 2017

A clothes steam iron that drips water ranks high as a household nuisance. Water that leaks from an iron makes a mess, forcing you to do extra cleanup. And if the iron contains dirty water, water that leaks from the iron could leave a stain on your clothes. Discover what causes a clothes steam iron to leak and how to quickly remedy the problem.


A steam iron that drips water might be in need of cleaning. Calcium carbonate found in hard water clogs the iron after several uses. Therefore, it is important to clean the iron plate with the help of an iron plate cleaner. Always empty out the water chamber after every use. Fill the water chamber with white vinegar to remove calcium carbonate left behind in the water chamber. Set both the temperature and the steam to the highest setting. Tilt the iron back and forth until about half of the vinegar evaporates and then empty out the remaining vinegar. This exercise will both clean the water chamber and help to eliminate drip.


An iron that is old -- anything older than three years -- might suffer from leakage. Water drips from a steam iron when parts are in need of repair, or when there is deterioration in the seals. Have your iron checked regularly, especially if the iron is for professional use. For lower-end models used in the home, it is not necessary to check an old iron for worn parts. It may be easier to simply replace your iron with a new one.

Iron Setting

If the iron is set to too low a temperature, the iron will not generate enough heat to turn the water in the steam chamber to steam. As a result, the iron starts to leak once you apply steam to fabric like silk or linen, which require a low temperature setting. Check that the steam lever, if set to high steam, matches that of the fabric setting to prevent this from happening.


Let the iron heat up for a few minutes before ironing. This will allow the water time to heat up and turn into steam. If you plan to iron on a low temperature setting but would like to heat up the water quickly, place the iron on a high temperature and steam setting. Then, turn the iron down to the correct temperature and steam lever setting for drip-free ironing.

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About the Author

Sophia Jesenia Gonzalez began writing professionally in 2005. A fashion writer and stylist based in New York City, she has worked for publications including "The Record," "New York Magazine" and "Life & Style Weekly." Gonzalez is a William J. Fulbright Scholar and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and French from Penn State University.