How To Descale Steam Iron

Last updated on : August 01 2022



As for most items we use in our daily life that require cleaning and care, descaling a steam iron is essential.  

When we use a steam iron or steam generator, it uses water to produce steam. Water contains limescale, and the harder the water, the more calcium and lime scale impurities it has, which build up in your iron. 

Depending on your usage, you can maintain a steam iron by descaling it weekly. Descaling increases steam productivity, increases iron lifespan, and prevents the problem of leaking and getting spots on clothes. 

However, if you prefer to descale less often, go with the latest steam irons and steam generator irons having an anti-calcium function, cartridge, and limescale collector. These additions automatically descale water, provide better ironing results, and require less descaling.  

This article discusses all you need to know about descaling, from identifying when descaling is required to preventative tips and remedies.  

When Your Iron Needs Descaling:

You will likely need to start cleaning your iron regularly after 2 to 3 months of initial use, but it mostly depends on your usage. Alternatively, you can unclog your iron early to avoid any later hassles because a stiff buildup will require more effort to remove. 

Whatever you choose, if any of these signs appear, it means your iron needs descaling.  

  • Your iron needs your effort to glide on the cloth instead of having a smooth, effortless glide. 
  • Ironing does not provide the required results, and it takes more time to remove creases and iron clothes. 
  • Ironing leaves marks, rusty water spots, or any chalky scale residual while ironing.
  • If you find lime or small white particles in your iron water tank.
  • When you see a layer of buildup on the surface of the soleplate.

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Kinds Of Descaling Process:

  1. Manual descaling
  2. Automatic descaling

Manual Descaling: How to clean a steam iron manually.

Step 1: Unplug your iron and empty your iron water tank. Fill it with half distilled water and half proportion of cleaning vinegar

Step 2: Check the holes on the soleplate. If they are clogged or blocked, clean them with a toothpick or soft toothbrush. Do not use any metal or hard pin to clean the holes as the soleplate might damage. 

Step 3: Now turn on the iron and wait until it's fully heated and the light indicator turns on. Set the steam setting and press the steam button 15 to 20 times until the color of the steam seems clear. 

Then leave the iron for 20 to 30 minutes so that the mixture cleans the tank thoroughly. Afterward, drains the water into the sink.  

Repeat the process once or twice if there is any white material you see on the wall of the water tank. 

Step 4: Turn off the iron and let it cool. After it has cooled, rinse the tank with clean distilled water to ensure all the vinegar is removed from the tank. 

Now clean the soleplate with an old kitchen towel and enjoy smooth ironing.  

Points to note:

You can use a descaling solution to clean the tank and a soleplate cleaner for cleaning the iron soleplate. But these will cost you more and may affect your iron over time. As the above procedure works incredibly well, you get your iron cleaned with less cost and more longevity. 

You can follow the same process for manually cleaning the limescale deposit of a steam generator iron. 

Automatic Descaling: How to clean iron limescale residual automatically.

There are many different steam irons and steam generator irons on the market with automatic descaling functionality. There is no need to descale these irons manually. 

Most commonly used are limescale collectors, cleaning programs, and anti-limescale cartridges.  

Limescale collectors:

A limescale collector is a rod in the water container which collects the limescale residuals. It must be removed and rinsed off regularly - at least once a month or twice a month if you use your iron frequently or live in a hard water area.

Cleaning programs

An iron with cleaning programs descales itself. You only have to choose the descaling program and let the iron do the rest. 

Read the manual for the iron you have to ensure you use the self-cleaning system properly. And be aware that self-cleaning containers accumulate minerals when these irons are used. These will need to be manually cleaned.

The latest steam generator irons from Bosch, Philips, and Morphy Richard and Rowenta are well equipped with self-cleaning programs.

Anti-Limescale cartridges

You can use anti-limescale cartridges in the latest steam iron and steam generator irons to collect mineral residuals and prevent clogging. 

The cartridges demineralize the water quickly and collect the lime deposit. Furthermore, they are straightforward to use but should be replaced after three months if your iron is used frequently. 

How To Clean Properly Clean Your Iron Soleplate. 

You can use many small hacks to clean your steam iron soleplate easily. Find them below, and choose the one that works best for you. 

  • Mix distilled vinegar with baking soda, warm the iron, switch off, then gently rub the soleplate with a micro-fiber cloth dipped in the mixture. Afterward, clean the iron with a clean wet cloth.
  • Alternatively, try the same procedure with toothpaste. It cleans the soleplate very well.
  • Try cleaning the soleplate with the help of salt and newspaper. Lay down some newspaper and sprinkle salt on it. Move your slightly heated iron in a circular motion through the salt until the plate is no longer sticky or leaving residue. Afterward, clean the surface with a damp microfiber cloth or towel. 
  • Mix some dish detergent into water and use the mixture on a damp towel to clean the soleplate with gentle movements. Afterward, wipe off the soleplate with a wet towel.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers also work well to clean your iron soleplate. You can buy them from any good mart or Amazon. Dampen the magic eraser and gently rub it on the surface of the soleplate to remove any buildup.
  • You can clean the holes of the soleplate with cotton earbuds. Dip the buds in vinegar first.
  • Clean plastic residue stuck to the iron soleplate with ice cubes. Place ice cubes in a bowl and leave the iron resting on them for 8-10 minutes until the residue peels away from the surface. Rub with a plastic scraper if necessary. Afterward, mix salt and vinegar and clean the base with a towel dipped in the solution. Finally, clean the surface of the soleplate with a clean wet towel.

Precautionary Steps That Help To Prevent Steam Iron From Limescale Buildup:

We all know that prevention is better than cure. You can minimize limescale and residue buildup by following the preventative tips below. 

1. Try to use distilled water that is lime and mineral-free. 

2. Clean the soleplate with a damp cloth dipped in a water and vinegar mixture after every use.

3. Set the temperature of the iron according to the fabric being ironed. When we iron clothes with more temperature than needed, dust particles, prints, or synthetic material can melt, block the soleplate holes, or leave behind a residue.

4. When not in use, store your iron in an upright position.

5. Empty the iron water tank after use. Stagnant water can build up limescale deposits in the soleplate holes causing brown marks and stains on clothes. 


Limescale deposits are quite a big problem for appliances that use water - like steam irons, steam generators, steamers, kettles, and washing machines. As the water evaporates, it leaves mineral deposits, which later turn into hard lime deposits.

You can descale these appliances using several methods, including by hand or with auto-descaling features if available. And doing so regularly will improve your ironing experience and the durability of your iron.  

Areas with hard water face more issues, but it pays to practice preventative measures by keeping your appliances clean and well managed for long-term productivity. Some best practices are regular cleaning after use and distilled water instead of tap water. 

Practicing the advice and tips outlined in this article will result in less effort to iron your garments. And clean steam, which is safe and does not damage your clothes. 

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