You do not need to spend a lot of money to find a good iron cleaner. In general, the most effective tools to clean an iron can be found right in your home. It is a good idea to clean an iron regularly, but especially if you begin to feel it "dragging" across clothes, since this can mean it developed buildup or residue. Remember, you must always wait until the iron is completely cool before using any type of iron cleaner.
There are three parts to the iron that will need to be cleaned. These include the reservoir, or the tank that holds the water; the soleplate, which is the metal base used for ironing; and the outside casing of the iron. Keeping these areas clean will prevent any odors or stains from transferring from the iron onto your clean clothing. Storing your iron properly is also important for keeping it clean. Always empty the reservoir tank and allow it to dry before putting it away. Store the iron upright in a dry location.
The first and best iron cleaner is white vinegar. A rag dipped in white vinegar is very effective when used to clean the soleplate and remove residue. You may also use laundry or dish detergent mixed with hot water, ammonia, or a mixture of baking soda and hot water to clean the soleplate. Always apply these mixtures with a rag, cloth, or soft sponge, and then wipe the iron clean with plain warm water. Never submerge the iron. These mixtures and products can also be used to gently clean the outer plastic casing of the iron.
When using an iron cleaner, never use abrasive chemicals, scouring pads or knives. You could scratch the bottom non-stick surface of the iron, which will then encourage even more residue buildup. This will damage the iron and possibly render it unusable. Try using cotton swabs or pipe cleaners to gently clean the steam vents in the soleplate. Some people have also had success using the Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser®.
To clean the reservoir, many people suggest filling the reservoir with white vinegar, then turning the iron on and allowing it to steam for a few minutes. You could also run the iron back and forth across a rag while the vinegar is steaming. Dump the vinegar out and heat the iron with clear water again once before you use it to iron. If you need to, this process can be repeated.
If these methods do not work for you, there are commercial iron cleaner products available. These can be found in the cleaning or laundry sections of most stores. Some can also be purchased online or through television infomercials. However, many people find it easiest to make a good iron cleaner using products from the home.