There are many things that cause buildup on irons: dust in the air, detergent, starch, fabric softener -- and if the iron is too hot, the clothing fibers can get stuck on the soleplate. When there is a lot of buildup, it will actually cause the iron to drag -- that's when you know it's time for a cleaning.
Cleaning an Iron's Soleplate How-To
1. First, make sure that the iron has no water in it. Then, wipe down the soleplate with a damp rag. Set the iron to the highest cotton setting.
2. Squeeze about 2 inches of hot iron cleaner onto a terry-cloth towel. Run the hot iron over the towel and cleaner in a circular motion. Don't worry if you see smoke -- it's normal.
3. Lift off the iron and rub soleplate onto another clean terry-cloth rag to remove the cleaner residue. If the cleaner residue lingers in steam holes, repeat the process.
4. After cleaning, steam over an old cloth to ensure all the cleaner is removed from the vents before ironing again.
Martha used a cleaning kit and iron from Rowenta, which were sent as gifts to our viewer mail participant. For more tips on ironing, check out Martha's guide to ironing a shirt.