Manufacturers cover a steam iron's sole plate with Teflon to create a non-stick surface on the iron. Using laundry starch or sizing can leave stains and sticky build-up on the sole plate. Ironing clothing with a stained or sticky sole plate can transfer the build-up onto the textiles and stain them. Filling a steam iron with water leaves mineral deposits in the iron's steam holes that may potentially clog the steam release holes. Cleaning a Teflon coated steam iron keeps the iron working properly and reduces the incidence of stain transference.
Set the iron on the automatic steam setting.
Fill the iron with water, set it to the highest steam setting and plug it in.
Place a metal cooling rack on a surface that will not incur damage from heat or steam.
Set the iron on the metal cooling rack with the sole plate resting on the metal. Allow the steam to flow continuously from the iron, which will clean the steam holes. The heat of the steam will also loosen scale and force it out of the reservoir. Repeat two to three times if the iron has a heavy scale build-up.
Unplug the iron and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Mix warm water with a squirt of dish soap in a bowl.
Dip a rag or sponge into the soapy water wring out excess so the rag or sponge is wet but not dripping.
Wipe the sole plate and housing to remove dirt and build-up. Dry the sole plate with a rag. If the build-up remains, mix water and baking soda to form a paste. Dip a damp cloth into the mixture and rub it onto the sole plate. Scrub the stains until they are no longer visible. Wipe baking soda residue away with a damp rag. Dry the iron.
Consider using a commercially available steam iron cleaning product if your iron stains are stubborn. Use distilled water in a steam iron to prevent scale. Wipe your iron with a damp rag after each use to prevent build-up.
Do not run white vinegar through a steam iron to de-scale the reservoir or steam holes; white vinegar can damage the internal components of the iron. Do not use steel wood, scouring powders or other abrasives on the steam iron. The abrasives will damage the Teflon coating.