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How to Descale a Steam Iron

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Ironing is one of the most tedious chores, and that is why most people don’t like it. It can even be more challenging if your steam iron is plagued with limescale—a chalky compound mainly composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

If not removed, limescale not only lowers the performance of a steam iron but will also leave unsightly stubborn stains on your clothes.

Most, but not all, steam irons feature built-in anti-limescale systems that will ensure the unit stays in top-class condition at all times.

Depending on the model of steam iron that you are using, you can employ any of the descaling techniques highlighted in this article.

If you are thinking of buying a steam iron or looking for a replacement for your current unit, we are more than happy to give you a helping hand.

Click here to have a look at some of the best steam irons currently available in the Australian market.

Descaling Steam Irons With Self Clean Function

It is important that you know how to clean a steam iron, as this will determine its overall performance.

However, not all steam irons are built the same, so ensure that you go through the manufacturer’s descaling instructions to familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts.

Method 1: Descaling a Steam Iron With Limescale Collector

Steam irons with this feature are very easy to clean, thanks to their convenient design. Simply unplug the appliance, remove the limescale collector, empty it, and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Check for any residue after the first rinse to ensure the collector is properly descaled. Once you are done, you can insert the limescale collector into the steam iron.

Most brands recommend that you do this every 2 months, but this may vary depending on how often you use the iron.

Method 2: Descaling a Steam Iron With Auto-descaling Function

The auto-descaling function will allow you to get rid of stubborn limescale with the push of a button.

As earlier mentioned, ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter to avoid damaging your iron during the descaling process.

If the unit in question is fitted with an anti-limescale cartridge, you should see to it that you swap the old cartridge with a new one when the stipulated time elapses.

Manual Descaling of a Steam Iron

If your steam iron does not have any of the descaling systems that we have discussed above, you should consider descaling it manually.

Here are 8 quick steps that can guide you through the descaling process:

Step 1: Fill the water tank with vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:1

Step 2: Turn on the iron and apply the medium heat setting

Step 3: Engage the steam button and let the iron steam for 5-10 minutes

Step 4: Empty the water tank after turning off the iron

Step 5: Refill the tank with fresh water and activate the steam function

Step 6: Press the steam button multiple times to flush out the vinegar

Step 7: Check if all the limescale has come off, if not, repeat steps 1-6

Step 8: Wipe the soleplate with a clean paper towel. Ensure that all the steam holes are unclogged.

Importance of Descaling a Steam Iron

The build-up of limescale residue on a steam iron can cause blockage of the steam holes. This will, in turn, reduce the steam output, thus lowering the performance of the iron.

Steam irons with clogged holes can be hard to work with because the soleplate does not glide smoothly as it should. As such, you will spend more time ironing your clothes, and this can be frustrating.

Additionally, clogged steam holes may cause your iron to leak water all over the place. But most importantly, regular descaling will prevent the iron from staining your clothes.

How Often Should I Descale My Steam Iron?

Limescale takes time to form on steam irons. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that some types of water may cause your steam iron to scale at a faster rate.

You should, therefore, descale your steam iron depending on the type of water used and the frequency of use.

Experts recommend that you descale your iron every 1-3 months. Also, ensure that you empty the water tank after each use to prevent the formation of limescale.

How to Prevent The Build-up of Limescale In a Steam Iron

Limescale only forms in steam irons when you use hard water. That being said, you should consider using distilled or demineralised water when ironing.

Alternatively, you can pass the water through water-softening equipment before topping up the tank on the steam iron.


Regular descaling can greatly boost the performance of your steam iron. In addition to this, you will be able to use the iron without worries, especially when ironing white clothes.

When done correctly, descaling can also prolong the lifespan of your steam iron.


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