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Why Your Steam Iron is Leaking Water and How to Stop it

steam iron with water leak

Nothing puts a wrench in your plans quite like a leaking iron. What you intended to be a crisp, wrinkle-free shirt can quickly transform into a soggy, puckered wreck. So, let’s fix that leaky steam iron. First, it helps to know a bit about why irons commonly leak.

There are actually two common reasons for leaky irons. The first is temperature. If you’re an impatient ironer, you may inadvertently be causing your iron to leak by not waiting for the heating chamber to reach peak heat. Ideally, that’s going to be at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

A little bit of planning ahead of time to preheat your iron before you need to dash out the door in a crisp dress shirt or slacks could be all that’s necessary to stop your iron from leaking.

The second reason is some type of buildup issue within the iron. Fortunately, there are tons of simple hacks that can let you plug leaks without tossing your iron away. Take a look if you’re ready to finally iron out the issue of living with a leaky iron!

1: Go Easy on Your Iron’s “Steam Burst” Feature

wet steam emition from iron

If you’re a steam addict, you could be causing leaks. An iron’s steam burst feature is not intended for continuous use while ironing. While it’s okay to use it generously, you need to press the button in intervals with breaks in between. What’s more, you shouldn’t be using steam bursts for an entire garment. The purpose of this feature is only to go after stubborn creases and wrinkles. You need to leave enough time to build up pressure to avoid leakage that’s going to make a wet mess.

2: Stop Overfilling Your Iron

If you’re in the habit of “eyeballing” how much water you add to your iron, you could be causing leakage. Never go above the “max line” within the reservoir. In many cases, iron manufacturers don’t create airtight seals. You should also make sure that the lid is sealed tight to keep water in.

3: Wait for the Indicator Light

As covered earlier, temperature makes a big difference. It’s important to wait until your iron has reached the proper temperature to begin ironing. That means actually waiting until the “ready” indicator light pops on. When the iron is not hot enough, it begins releasing water instead of steam because steam has not had a chance to form.

4: Be Picky About the Water You Use

The water level you use isn’t the only detail that can sabotage your iron. Generally, iron manufacturers instruct customers to avoid using distilled water alone in their products. While you may assume that using distilled water would produce better results than tap water, distilled water alone isn’t effective because it has a hard time converting to steam at lower temperatures.

As mentioned in the #3 hack, an iron will release water instead of steam if steam hasn’t formed yet. The best option is actually a 50-50 mix of tap water and distilled water. Ultimately, you have to defer to the advice given in the user’s manual for your steam iron. While some irons do just fine with tap water, you may be advised to use a 50-50 mix if you have hard water at your home.

5: Don’t Ignore the Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions

While cleaning an iron isn’t a glamorous task, it’s an important way to keep your clothing looking crisp. The minerals in water actually build up over time to clog your iron. In addition to causing water to “spit out” from your iron, this buildup can leave brown and white marks on your clothes while you’re ironing. The good news is that modern manufacturers make cleaning an iron a breeze.

Some brands actually include cleaning lights that let you know it’s time to give your iron some attention. Others have built-in descaling systems. However, you may need to manually descale your iron. If your steam iron continues to leak brown water from its base, after thorough cleaning, then you could have a rust problem. In which case, it could be a time for a new iron.

Here’s a quick hack cleaning guide to prevent leaking:

  • Empty all water from your iron’s reservoir.
  • Select your iron’s cotton setting.
  • Pour a mixture comprised of one part vinegar to two parts water into your iron. (or add some descaler)
  • Turn on your iron.
  • Next, place it facing down into a large pan or pot.
  • Allow the mixture to drain fully from your iron.
  • You can now refill the iron with just water to clear away any residual vinegar that may be left behind.
  • Wait until all of the water has drained into your pot or pan.
  • You’re now ready to use your iron again.

Of course, it’s always so important to follow any specific directions for descaling provided by your iron’s manufacturer. If you’re unsure if the technique above is approved, you can always contact the manufacturer to inquire about how to descale. You should also follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for the type of water to use with your iron when cleaning.

6: Give the Soleplate Some Love

steam iron soleplate leak

The soleplate that makes contact with your garments can actually contribute to leaks. Over time, a steam iron’s soleplate can easily become filled with gunk or lime deposits that cause dripping. You can usually get the soleplate looking like new by wiping it down with a little bit of water or vinegar.

Next, just let the iron warm up on a low setting to clear the moisture away. This should be enough to loosen up any buildup that is contributing to leaks. Never use abrasive products to try to clear out your base soleplate!

Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Leaks From Your Steam Iron

Even the best-branded steam irons from the likes of Philips, Tefal, and Morphy Richards can develop leaks. But with a little troubleshooting and following some of the steps above, you should be able to get it fixed. Of course, you shouldn’t wait for leaks to show up before you take action. Regular cleaning and maintenance to keep away clogs and buildup will stop leaks from putting a damper on your plans to look dapper in crisp clothing.