There is so much conflicting information surrounding iron maintenance. I wanted to clear up a few things on the subject—for the sake of irons everywhere, and their owners' peace of mind.
A few things to be aware of:
Myth #1: “Fill your iron with regular tap water.”
This is false. Most high-quality iron manufacturers state that you can use regular tap water in your iron. However, most iron manufacturers have never lived in the Midwestern United States. They cannot possibly fathom the levels of limescale and sediment in our water. Don't do it.
If you don't believe me, read your iron manuals—you'll notice some fine print that says extra-hard water will need to be diluted. Just go the safe route and refrain from tap water entirely—especially if you live in the Midwest or have well water.
Myth #2: “Distilled water is the best water for your iron.”
False… and true. Okay, okay—this is a tough one to explain. Truly distilled water is a perfectly lovely thing to put in your iron's reservoir—in theory. However, it's really not a good idea for most irons. Here's why:
Distilled water has no solid minerals in it. It's been super-heated and turned into steam and then collected (rather like what a dehumidifier does in your house). Distilled water is pure water. Unfortunately, pure water molecules are hungry to get their atomic hands on carbon dioxide from their environment, making the water mildly acidic and prone to corroding metals. Irons are made of metal. Savvy?
The true part comes in for some irons that specifically state in the manual that you CAN use distilled water. These irons contain innards that are made of specific anti-corrosive materials.
If you don't have a manual that says you can use distilled water, I'd suggest you stay away. It's best to stay on the safe side.
Myth #3: “Deionized water is best for your iron.”
False. Deionized water is cheaper than distilled, and is defined as water that has had ions removed. Therefore, it is desperate for positively-charged ions. Putting water that's starved for ions in anything electronic is a bad idea.
You've got alternating current flowing through your iron, and a bunch of working metal parts. Add deionized water to that, and you'll have a temperamental beast in no time.
Myth #4: “Spring water is best.”
Nope. Often, spring waters are full of minerals, which are great for your health, but not so much for your iron. Minerals are solids that can gunk up your reservoir and steam vents.
“So what kind of water am I supposed to use?”
Easy. Use filtered tap water. Water that's been filtered through something like a Brita has most of the solid particles filtered out of it. If you have a refrigerator with an icemaker and water dispenser, this is even better, as most refrigerator filters will even filter out the sodium that's present from water softeners.
Spitting, leaking from the soleplate:
When someone tells me their iron spits or dribbles from the soleplate, the first thing I ask them is whether they're filling it with tap water (the answer to this question is very often, “yes.”).
What's probably happening here: sediments and limescale are accumulating on the gaskets controlling your steam vents, preventing a proper seal—and causing leakage.
The fix? You can improve the situation by filling the reservoir with clean, filtered water, turning the iron onto high, and pumping the manual steam button.
As you do this, use your other hand to move the steam control lever back and forth from no-steam to full-steam, and back again. This raises and lowers the steam gaskets, and will hopefully dislodge some of the sediment on the gaskets as they rise and sink in the steam vents.
The final word…
Please don't use vinegar in your iron unless the manual specifically says you can. Vinegar can react with some rubbers and plastics (like gaskets and the reservoir itself), wreaking havoc on your iron's innards. I learned this the hard way on my steamer.
Try and be diligent with emptying your iron of water when you're finished. Empty the reservoir while the iron is still hot, and leave the lid open to help any stray droplets evaporate.
Proper iron maintenance can really improve the life expectancy of a unit. Sometimes irons simply conk out on us. Things happen. Make sure the iron has a good warrantee. Better yet, purchase from Nancy's Notions. Nancy's promise, made more than 30 years ago, still stands today—at Nancy's Notions, your 100% satisfaction is guaranteed. If for any reason, any product does not meet your expectations, simply return it for an exchange, refund, or credit of the purchase price.Check out
all irons and pressing supplies.
This information first appeared in the Nancy Zieman Blog, October 27, 2015.