Yes, people do still iron. This Fix-It Guide on electric iron repair tells how an electric iron works, what often goes wrong, how to identify the problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to clean an iron, how to service an iron steam and spray mechanism, and how to clean a metal soleplate. This Fix-It Guide also refers to electrical cord repair and appliance control repair for more information on specific repairs.
How Does It Work?
Whether it’s a basic no-frills iron, a cordless model, a compact travel iron, or an electronic iron loaded with features, all steam irons work in the same way. They press out wrinkles in fabric using moisture, pressure, and heat. When the steam valve is closed, the iron operates dry. When the steam valve is open, water drips into a heated steam chamber, where it exits as steam through vents in the soleplate. The iron’s working surface, the soleplate, may be plain metal or coated with an easy-to-clean nonstick material.
What Can Go Wrong?
Fortunately, there is very little inside a well-made iron that can go wrong. Most repairs are for faulty cords, damaged handles, and mineral deposits that hamper steam irons. Problems with an iron’s electronic complements should be dealt with by an authorized service center. It typically is more cost effective to replace rather than repair an iron with internal problems. Check the owner’s manual for your iron to learn the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning, what water to use, and storage tips.
Soft-water systems add minerals that can harm an electric steam iron and your clothes so don’t fill the iron with softened water. Instead, use filtered or distilled water.
How Can I Identify the Problem?
As with many small appliances, regular maintenance makes a dramatic difference in how trouble free your electric iron will be. Even so, things can happen.
If the iron heats but steams improperly, inspect the soleplate and clean the vents (see below) and flush sediment out of the steam chamber (see below).
If the iron does not spray properly, inspect and clean the nozzle (see below).
If the iron leaks or spits, clean the steam vents, nozzle, and tank.
If the iron sticks to fabric, clean or repair the soleplate. If the iron stains fabric, clean the soleplate, clean the tank with a commercial cleaner, and use distilled or filtered water.
Iron carefully around buttons, zippers, and other attachments or decorations that can scratch the soleplate.
What Parts, Materials, and Tools Do I Need?
Larger hardware stores may have replacement parts for popular brand electric irons. Also, you can get them from the manufacturer or an aftermarket supplier. Maintenance and repair tools you’ll need to fix an electric iron include these:
- Toothpicks or pipe cleaners
- Sewing needle
- Commercial electric iron cleaning solution or vinegar and water
- Commercial soleplate cleaner or baking soda and water
- Steel wool
- Emery cloth
- Metal cooking pot
What Are the Steps to Fixing It?
Clean an iron:
- Unplug the iron and make sure it is cool before cleaning.
- Use a toothpick or pipe cleaner to remove buildup in the steam vents, making sure the debris doesn’t fall into the vents.
- Use a fine sewing needle to carefully clean the spray nozzle of mineral deposits.
- To flush sediment from a steam iron, pour 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vinegar into the water tank. Place the iron on a rack over a broiling pan and set the iron to steam until the tank runs dry. Repeat if necessary. Or follow the instructions for using a commercial iron cleaner.
Service the steam and spray mechanism:
- Unplug the iron.
- Use a fine sewing needle to unclog the steam valve assembly. Also, check the valve spring and replace it if it is broken or has lost tension.
- If the spray pump is accessible, remove it and check for leaks by placing the spray tube in water and squirting the pump. Clean or replace as needed.
Clean a metal soleplate:
- Unplug the iron.
- Use a sponge and commercial soleplate cleaner or baking soda and water to remove dirt buildup on the soleplate. Rinse well with water and dry. Don’t use harsh abrasives or immerse an electric iron in water.
- Use very fine steel wool (0000) or an emery cloth to remove scratches and burns on the soleplate, then clean the soleplate.
Unless the instructions with your iron say it’s okay, don’t let water stand in your steam iron between uses. Drain all water from the iron, wrap the cord loosely around the handle, and store the iron in an upright position.