Watch: What’s the best way to clean an iron?

If your iron is looking a little worse for wear, don’t worry. We’ll show you how to get it sparkling clean again, so you can avoid marking any of your clothes with those nasty scorched or burnt marks.

If you’ve used an iron more than a handful of times, you might occasionally notice a strange, gunky residue build up on your iron’s soleplate.

This mysterious sticky substance is a combination of dust, oil and melted fibers, and it can impede your iron’s performance as well as leave stains on whatever clothes you’re ironing.

Our video above shows a strange trick you can use to remove it, or take a look at our step-by-step instructions below. We also explain the best way to remove stubborn wrinkles from clothes and why it’s important to choose your ironing board carefully.

Looking for the best iron to help you blast through piles of laundry? Check out our steam iron reviews to see which models came out top.

A nifty trick to clean your iron

There’s a lot of advice out there on cleaning your iron, using everything from a vinegar-soaked towel to toothpaste, but we’ve found the best method uses something you’ve probably already got in your home but wouldn’t have thought to try : paracetamol tablets.

Here’s how the paracetamol method works. Watch our video above to see it in action.

  1. If you have them, put on some heat resistant gloves. You’re going to be dealing with a hot iron, so you need to be very careful.
  2. Turn the iron on and set it to a medium-high heat setting.
  3. Pick up a non-coated paracetamol tablet – and it’s important that it’s the non-coated type in order for this to work – with tweezers.
  4. Once the iron has heated up, use the tweezers to hold the tablet against the burnt marks. You should see it melting into a gel.
  5. Rub the melting tablet over the marks.
  6. Wipe the residue off with a cotton cloth. It must be cotton, not polyester, otherwise you’ll end up with more burnt fabric on the soleplate.
  7. Repeat until your iron is clean and shiny.

According to our scientific experts, the reason this works is because the tablets contain silicon dioxide, which is abrasive enough to remove stubborn marks, but it won’t scratch your soleplate.

It might take a few tablets to fully clean your iron and remove all of the marks, so be sure to have a packet to hand when you’re trying this.

What’s the best way to remove wrinkles from clothes?

Let’s face it, ironing can be a chore. It’s never a particularly enjoyable task, and stubborn creases can tip it over from menial and boring territory to utter frustration.

However there are a few things you can do to ensure your ironing is as easy as possible.

The easiest way to remove creases is to iron clothes while they’re still damp. When they’re fully dry, clothes can be very resistant to reshaping and this is not ideal if the shape they’re in is filled with wrinkles and creases. By ironing them when they’re damp, the heat from the iron will help smooth the clothes out as the moisture inside them evaporates.

Try to iron your clothes in long, gentle strokes, rather than wiggling over them. A haphazard wiggling technique can actually stretch the fabric which will cause more problems down the line, making them less well-fitting and more prone to wrinkles.

Hang or fold your clothes straight away – after all the effort of ironing, you’re going to want them to remain crease-free. It can be useful to have a pile of hangers next to the ironing board so you can get to them quickly.

Finally and probably most importantly, ensure that you have a decent iron in the first place. The best irons heat up quickly and remove wrinkles with ease, but there are some duds out there that are just going to make your life difficult.

Thankfully, we’ve put all the big names to the test, so you can head to our steam irons buying guide to see which models are worth the investment.

You could also opt for a handheld clothes steamerwhich are quicker to use and ideal for traveling.

For more ironing tips, including advice on how to tackle different fabric types, check out our guide on how to iron your clothes,

How to buy the best ironing board

The unsung hero of the ironing world, your ironing board can make a big difference. It needs to be sturdy, and adjustable height is a must. If it’s set too high, you’ll struggle to apply enough downwards pressure on the iron. Too low, you might give yourself a nasty backache.

Our tests showed that they’re generally worth investing in, and it’s worth seeking out a stable board and a sturdy surface to iron on. However, you don’t have to pay an extortionate amount to get a great ironing board.

Our investigation covered how easy they are to carry, how stable they are, and how easy they are to adjust as well as the useful extra features different models have.

We put them through user-panel trials to assess their ease of use, and abused them in stability trials, measuring the force needed to tip them over or drag them across the floor, and how much their height dropped when a 10kg weight was placed on them.

We also tried scorching them by putting a hot iron face down on their cover, and took repeated measurements of the board after ironing to see how much heat they retained.

You can read all about our findings and recommendations on our best ironing boards page,

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