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How to Descale a Steam Generator Iron


Over time, a steam generator iron may accumulate a collection of mineral deposits known as limescale. This residue often spells trouble for clothes. By learning to descale your steam generator iron, you can keep your ironing process as hassle-free as possible.

Why Descale Your Iron

Limescale makes it harder to iron efficiently. When residue clogs the steam holes, the iron produces less steam and is less effective at tackling wrinkles. Ironing becomes more work for you, and you still may not be getting the results you want.

Also, limescale can leave stains on your clothes. There may be chalky white marks. Plus, clogged steam holes can lead to rust, which often stains garments brown.

To avoid these issues, it’s a good idea to descale a steam generator iron at least once every 12 weeks. If you live in an area where the water is particularly hard, you should reduce the intervals between cleaning sessions for the best results. You should also increase the frequency if you iron multiple times a week.

Related: Best Steam Generator Irons 2022

How to Manually Descale a Steam Generator Iron

First, let’s talk about the most labour-intensive way to descale a steam generator iron. If your unit doesn’t have built-in cleaning features, then manual descaling is going to be your go-to every time. You may want to opt for manual cleaning processes now and then even if your unit has self-cleaning features.

It’s not hard to get started. The main supplies that you’ll need are a few clean rags and your steam generator iron. You’ll also need plenty of freshwater.

Here’s what to do:

Total Time Needed: 53 Minutes

Things Needed:

  • Clean Water
  • Limescale Remover

Steps to a Descaled Steam Generator Water Tank:

Ironing with a stea, gen at home
  • Step 1: Dump the water out of the steam generator iron, and use clean water to rinse the tank.
  • Step 2: Refill the water tank to the max-fill line and add some limescale remover. We recommend Oust Powerful All Purpose Descaler. (If your iron has a built-in anti limescale feature, you will not need a limescale remover. Follow the manufacturers instructions)
  • Step 3: Turn on the iron and adjust it to the highest heat setting.
  • Step 4: Push the iron’s steam button a few times.
  • Step 5: Leave the iron turned on for four or five minutes before turning it off.
  • Step 6: Walk away for half an hour while the iron cools down.
  • Step 7: Dump out the water tank again. Wipe it out with the rag, and rinse it with clear water.
  • Step 8: If limescale remains inside the tank, repeat the above steps.
  • Step 9: Refill the descaled tank with clean water. Heat up the iron and put it on the steam setting.
  • This whole process can be completed in under an hour, and most of that won’t be hands-on work time.

Steps to Descale the Iron Sole Plate:


Limescale can build up around the holes on the base soleplate of the iron, hindering the efficiency of the irons ability to emit steam. Luckily, there’s an easy way to clean these limescale deposits away by following these simple steps.

  • Step 1: Get a backing tray or basin and fill with a shallow mixture of water and a descaling solution such as HG Quick Descaler. You will only need a depth of around 1 or 2 cm – just enough to submerge and cover the iron soleplate when placed flat within it.
  • Step 2: Place the iron with the base plate flat on the bottom, submerging just the base sole plate in the mixer of water and descaler.
  • Step 3: Leave the iron steeping in the water for around 45 minutes.
  • Step 4: Remove the iron and brush across the soleplate and in the holes. Give it a once over with a wet cloth.

Job done!

Built-in Iron Features for Descaling

Most modern steam generator irons don’t require much manual descaling because they come with anti-limescale features. If you purchase a new unit like that, you’ll save yourself time and effort. It is not recommended to use any descaling agents in a steam generator iron that has its own “De-Calc” or built-in anti-limescale feature.

Self-cleaning Setting

Some steam generator irons are designed to clean themselves. There’s a self-cleaning setting that you can select when the time comes for descaling. The iron may even have an indicator that lets you know when a cleaning session is necessary.

Some steam generator irons can complete their self-descaling processes in just two minutes. The unit will force steam and water through the holes in the iron, and limescale buildup will come out as well. Once the expelled water has cooled off, you can dump it — and the accompanying debris particles — down the sink.

Easy-cleaning Knob

Other units have a special drain that can be opened for cleaning. Water and limescale particles will drain out.

Be sure to let the iron cool down for at least two hours before beginning this process. After removing the knob, you’ll need to hold the unit over the sink or catch the water in a bowl. The directions may advise rinsing the chamber and letting it drain a second time before replacing the knob.

Limescale Collector

Instead of an attached limescale container that you rinse out, there may be a smaller collection container that’s detachable. You can remove it from the iron, rinse it with clear water, and then pop it back on the iron.

Anti-scale Cartridges

You may be able to insert an anti-limescale cartridge into your unit. It will trap limescale particles so they don’t clog the iron’s holes. You’ll need to replace the cartridge every few months.

Plan Ahead to Reduce Limescale Buildup

Finally, you can make life easier on yourself in the long run by taking steps to prevent significant limescale deposits from accumulating. First, filter your water before filling the tank. In addition, after each ironing session, empty the tank so it isn’t left with standing water. If you do these two things on a regular basis, you may find that your quarterly cleaning sessions aren’t too difficult at all.