Most things become precious only when you lose it. An iron box is such a thing. You never realize its worth till it stops working – I learned it when this happened during the lockdown. All of a sudden my iron box stopped heating up and there are no shops open to buy a replacement. What would I do with all my sewing projects? I do not mind wearing crumpled clothes. But no more pressing the seams open or keeping the pleats pressed! No way.
I had to resort to this. But using a flat iron has its limitations, ofcourse.
Then I remembered that I had this really old iron box stored somewhere up in the cupboard. When I fished it out, it was full of ugly markings, some of which was goo stuck on it from interfacings and stabilizers that I used (abused) it on, some fabric fibers burnt and sticking to the surface and most, my careless use of iron on clothes with metal embellishments. The scratches are impossible to repair but I can do something about the dirt.
Prevention is better than searching online for cures. I could have used a pressing cloth to prevent some of the problems like synthetic fibers getting burned easily and sticking to the iron and that button or zipper pull or sequins scratching the iron surface etc. You can use a piece of thin cotton fabric as the pressing cloth.
Basic cleaning of the Iron box
Iron boxes have Aluminium or Chrome soleplates or Teflon coated sole plates. They need different ways of cleaning. The Teflon coating can be scratched if you use anything abrasive on it. So do not use metal scrubbers or any abrasives on it.
Use a wooden spatula to take off anything which is stuck on the soleplate. You can use a nylon scrubber on metal soleplates, if a basic cleaning doesnot clean it.
To clean the iron box, first and foremost use a damp cloth to wipe the outside surface as well as the soleplate. Heat up the iron to its highest setting and use it on a damp cotton cloth. This can remove most of the dirt on the sole plate. If anything is stuck in the small holes of a steam iron, use the steam at its full capacity and if this doesnot clean use something thin to clean up the holes.
To remove simple dirt, oil etc use a household cleaner to wipe the surface.
If Nylon or polyester has stuck on your iron and it is refusing to go, use a little nail polish remover on a cotton swab. Wipe away the melted fiber. Do not use the acetone remover on the plastic surface of your iron.
If you have a steam iron, remove any remnant water inside. The water may be rusty and may stain clothes. The water inside the steam chamber should be changed frequently, as you may already know.
How to remove glue of interfacing or anything that should not be there stuck on an iron soleplate – some suggestions.
- If your iron has a steam feature, use it full on. This might remove any glue stuck on the small holes and the surface
- Wipe the surface with a soft microfiber sponge (Magic scrubber). Use Magic eraser on Metal coated sole plates (do not use this on Teflon coated irons)
- Use a professional iron cleaner( eg. Un-Do or Goo-Gone) Use this on a cooled iron; spray it on the surface and wipe with a paper towel.
- Use a Dryer sheet/clothes softener sheets. Heat up the iron lightly and then wipe the surface with the dryer sheet.
- Wipe a warm iron surface with a crumbled up wax paper or you can run the iron on the wax paper
- Use nail polish remover on a cotton swab and wipe. (Ensure that it is not touching the plastic body)
- A metal iron soleplate can be cleaned by ironing over a cloth sprinkled with salt, while it is hot. (Do not do this with Teflon coated irons or steam iron)
- Rub some white toothpaste (not gel) over the soleplate and then Run a somewhat coarse cloth over it. Then wipe with a damp towel to remove the residue.
- Use the all purpose cleaner – baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda with water and rub this onto the iron plate. Scrub with a clean wet cloth
- And Use good quality interfacing