How do I get the brown stuff off my iron?


Over time, an iron can develop a build-up of brown residue, commonly referred to as “brown stuff,” on its soleplate. This residue is often a combination of mineral deposits, fabric fibers, and other substances that have adhered to the iron during use. Not only can the brown stuff affect the iron’s functionality, but it can also transfer onto clothing, potentially causing stains. In this guide, we will explore effective methods to remove the brown stuff from your iron and restore its performance and appearance.

clothes iron

How do I get the brown stuff off my iron?

Method 1: White Vinegar

White vinegar is a versatile and effective cleaning agent that can be used to remove the brown stuff from your iron. Here’s how to use it:

1.1. Preparing the Vinegar Solution Mix equal parts white vinegar and distilled water to create a solution. The distilled water helps prevent mineral deposits from the tap water from further contributing to the build-up.

1.2. Applying the Solution Turn on your iron and set it to the highest heat setting suitable for your iron’s soleplate material. Once heated, pour the vinegar solution into the iron’s water reservoir, ensuring that it is not overfilled.

1.3. Letting the Solution Work Hold the iron over a sink or a heat-resistant surface and press the steam button to expel the vinegar solution through the steam vents. Allow the solution to work for a few minutes, ensuring that the steam vents expel the solution continuously.

1.4. Emptying the Reservoir After the solution has been expelled, switch off the iron and unplug it from the power source. Empty any remaining vinegar solution from the reservoir.

1.5. Rinsing and Cleaning Fill the reservoir with clean water and repeat the steam process to rinse the iron and flush out any remaining vinegar residue. If necessary, wipe the soleplate with a clean cloth or sponge to remove any loosened brown stuff.

Method 2: Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective natural cleaning agent that can help remove the brown stuff from your iron. Here’s how to use it:

2.1. Preparing the Baking Soda Paste Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste with a toothpaste-like consistency. The paste will act as a gentle abrasive to remove the residue.

2.2. Applying the Paste Ensure that the iron is unplugged and cool before applying the paste. Spread the baking soda paste onto the soleplate, focusing on areas with visible brown stuff. Gently rub the paste into the residue using a soft cloth or sponge.

2.3. Letting the Paste Work Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the soleplate for 15-20 minutes. This allows the paste to penetrate and loosen the brown residue.

2.4. Wiping and Rinsing After the waiting period, dampen a clean cloth or sponge with water and wipe away the baking soda paste, along with the loosened brown stuff. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently to avoid redistributing the residue.

Method 3: Commercial Iron Cleaners

Commercial iron cleaners are specifically formulated to remove stubborn residue, including the brown stuff, from the soleplate of your iron. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using these products, as guidelines may vary. Here’s a general overview of how to use them:

3.1. Reading the Instructions Thoroughly read and understand the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the commercial iron cleaner. Pay attention to any safety precautions and recommendations specific to your iron model.

3.2. Applying the Cleaner Apply the cleaner to the soleplate as directed. Some cleaners may require the iron to be heated, while others may work best on a cool soleplate. Follow the instructions regarding the amount of cleaner to use and the duration it should remain on the soleplate.

3.3. Wiping and Rinsing After the recommended waiting period, wipe the soleplate with a clean cloth or sponge to remove the dissolved residue. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently to prevent re-depositing the residue. Follow up with a clean, damp cloth to remove any remaining cleaner residue.

Preventive Measures: Avoiding Future Build-Up

To minimize the chances of the brown stuff returning on your iron, consider the following preventive measures:

4.1. Use Distilled or Filtered Water Using distilled or filtered water in your iron helps reduce the mineral content that contributes to the build-up of residue. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water.

4.2. Regular Cleaning Incorporate regular cleaning of your iron into your maintenance routine. This can include wiping the soleplate with a damp cloth after each use or periodically using the vinegar or baking soda methods mentioned earlier.

4.3. Proper Ironing Techniques Practicing proper ironing techniques can help prevent excessive residue build-up. Use the appropriate heat settings for different fabrics, avoid ironing over sticky substances, and ensure the iron is clean before each use.


Removing the brown stuff from your iron is essential to maintain its performance and prevent stains on your clothing. Whether using white vinegar, baking soda, commercial iron cleaners, or a combination of methods, these effective techniques can help eliminate stubborn residue and restore the soleplate of your iron. It is also important to implement preventive measures, such as using distilled or filtered water and regular cleaning, to avoid future build-up. By following these steps, you can enjoy an efficient and residue-free iron, ensuring your clothes look clean, crisp, and freshly pressed.

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