How to Clean a Sticky Iron [ 5 Best Ways for Clean Plate ]

A sticky iron makes an already dreaded task even worse. Ironing is meant to straighten out the garment, but a sticky iron does the opposite. It can get quite annoying trying to straighten out the creases that the task itself created. So, is there a way to deal with the problem? Yes, there is. Iron cleaning is not that difficult if you know how to do it right. But first, we should look at the reasons behind the problem to avoid it in the first place, and after that, I’m going to share how to clean a sticky iron quickly. 

Why does Iron get Sticky?

There are several reasons why it might get sticky, and with a little care, you can avoid the problem. An iron can get sticky if it is used at too high a temperature. It is, however, often believed that a hotter plate irons faster. A burnt iron is sticky. So, while it might be tempting to do so, it is not a wise decision. It can also get sticky if you starch the clothes you press, or if the soleplate gets scratched. You can circumvent the problem by ironing the side that has not been starched. Also, when residue like fibers gets stuck on the metal soleplate, over time, the plate gets sticky.

How to Clean a Sticky Iron

As we’ve looked at the reasons which can cause the stickiness on the iron surface, now I’m going to share some excellent methods to get rid of the residue from the surface.

Method 1: Using Soap Water

This method is among the gentlest methods of cleaning iron soleplate. Here is what you need:

  1. Bowl
  2. Liquid dish soap
  3. Sponge or a dishrag
  4. Warm water
  5. Nylon mesh

Step 1:

You need to first rub the sticky iron base gently with water. To do that, first heat the iron on the gentle heating setting. Then, dampen a rag, but make sure not to make it dripping wet. Once the metal is moderately hot, unplug it and rub the base gently with the rag. Also, make sure not to make direct contact with the heated bottom. If this method alone does not do the trick, you need to proceed with step 2. 

Step 2:

Now, mix up a soap and water solution. It would help if you first let the unplugged iron to cool to the room temperature. Meanwhile, mix a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap with warm water and mix the solution. 

Step 3:

Once you have prepared the soap solution, dip the rag or sponge in the solution. Squeeze out excess water so that it is not dripping wet but damp. Then, rub the soleplate to scrub off the sticky residue and then use a dry rag to remove the soap solution. If the sponge or rag does not work, use the nylon mesh pad. 

Method 2: baby powder

Collect the following items before you proceed with the steps.

  1. Two dish rags
  2. Baby powder

Step 1:

Begin by cooling the iron to the room temperature. To do that, you simply need to unplug it.

Step 2:

Now, sprinkle a dish rag with baby powder and gently rub the soleplate with it. You need to make sure that the soleplate is evenly powdered with baby powder.  

Step 3:

Once your iron is powdered, power it on and let it heat. Then, use the hot iron on the first dishrag and then on a second clean rag. This is to ensure that all the baby powder and the sticky residue is removed.

Step 4:

Try the iron on a garment on the inside. Be sure to try it on a small patch if the fabric is sensitive. The dish rags should remove the sticky residue, but if it is not so, double-check before using the iron.

Method 3: Using an Ironing Paper

Another one of the simple methods is to use the iron on a paper to get off the sticky residue. Items needed:

  1. Paper towels or newspaper
  2. Salt

Step 1: 

Heat the iron on the highest setting so that iron is hot, not just warm. Also, remember not to turn on the steam. Once the iron is hot, you can proceed to step 2

Step 2:

Lay paper towels or a newspaper on a flat surface. Then, run the hot iron over it continuously. Repeat it until the entire sticky residue is removed. Waxy surfaces are best cleaned using this method, so a waxy soleplate can be cleaned this way. 

Step 3:

If only running the iron on the newspaper or paper towels does not work, use salt. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt on the surface and then run the iron over it. This can be done in a newspaper, a paper towel or a cotton towel. This method will remove the sticky gunk but might not remove the stains. So, use this method if you need, and do not have the tie for a longer method.  

Method 4: Use Vinegar and Salt

If the gentle methods mentioned above do not work, you can use vinegar and salt. Here is what you need:

  1. Saucepan
  2. Salt
  3. White vinegar
  4. Rubber gloves
  5. Non-metal scouring pad
  6. 2 to 3 clean cloths 

Step 1:

Mix up a solution of vinegar and salt. Use both in equal parts and heat in a saucepan. Heat the solution using medium-high heat on the burner. Please do not bring the solution to boiling; remove it from the stove when bubbles start to appear. Meanwhile, your iron should remain unplugged 

Step 2:

Wear rubber gloves. Then, wet the scouring pad or clean cloth by dipping its end in the solution. With the cloth or scouring pad, scrub the soleplate in different motions. Try scrubbing in a circular motion, side to side, or up and down. Do so until the plate is clean. It would help if you were careful not to dip your hand in hot vinegar. Also, be careful not to use a metal pad because it can scratch the iron. 

Step 3:

Once you have removed the sticky gunk, you need to wipe the soleplate clean with distilled water. Wipe the base of the iron with a damp cloth until all the vinegar and salt solution is removed. Once it is clean, let it air-dry or dry it using a clean, dry cloth.

Method 5: Scraping off the Residue

This method should only be used if the layer of residue is too thick and cannot be removed otherwise. There is a risk of scratching the surface and damaging it.

Step 1:

Heat the iron on low heat setting. The heat of the soleplate will soften the residue and make it easy to be scraped off. 

Step 2:

Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to scrape off the residue from the base. Once it has been scraped off, let the iron cool down.

Tips for cleaning the sticky iron

  1. If it is molten plastic resides that is making your iron sticky, using salt will be a good idea. Iron salt on a sheet of aluminum foil until all the sticky gunk comes off.
  2. You can also try ironing a dry sheet while the iron is on low heat. 
  3. It is always wise to avoid using baking soda. The powder can clog the vent of the iron. Please do not use it for Teflon coatings, either. 
  4. Be sure to read the instructional manual before you decide to use baking soda or vinegar solution. It is okay to use these on a stainless steel or aluminum surface. However, it should not be used on soleplates that have a nonstick covering. If this is marred, it cannot be remedied. The only solution will be to buy a new one. 
  5. If the burnt residue is polyester, the right solution to the problem is to use nail polish. Clean the cooled iron with acetone nail polish by rubbing the metal with it. 

Cleaning a sticky iron is a tricky task, but if you know what to do, you should be good to go. Be sure to select the right method for your iron. If you follow the tips, use the proper approach with the right steps, you can get your iron cleaned in time. Lastly, if you are sick of horizontal irons just like me, do check out our best vertical steam irons guide and don’t hesitate to share your feedback.

Leave a comment