One important sewing room gadget that every machine quilter needs is a good iron for pressing fabric prior to cutting followed by pressing down all those seams.
For those of you who use spray starch on your fabric to make it a little stiffer and easier to cut, that can leave a residue on the soleplate of your iron that after a while can start to burn and cause damage to your expensive quilting fabric.
Thankfully, there are some really simple ways to prevent that from happening by periodically cleaning your iron without spending $15 or more on a bottle of iron soleplate cleaner.
When you start seeing that discoloration and buildup forming, try one of these methods to get that iron shiny and clean again before you start pressing the fabric for your next quilting machine project!
1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Just when you thought that Magic Eraser couldn’t possibly clean something else, here’s another surprise - it cleans irons like a pro.
Lay a folded towel on your work surface to protect it, then wet the Magic Eraser all the way through and put it on the towel.
Turn on the iron, let it heat up, and once it’s hot, rub it over the wet eraser a few times until all the gunk is gone.
You’ll see brown marks on the eraser as it starts to rub off.
It’s that simple!
2. Dryer Sheets
Using dryer sheets is another inexpensive way to clean your iron to prevent fabric damage before continuing work on your quilting machine project.
Lay down a couple of dryer sheets on a folded towel, then heat your iron up to its low-no steam setting.
Once it’s warm, iron the dryer sheets back and forth a few times, and then a few times over a damp towel, and voila - any baked-on starch residue should be gone and your iron ready for use!
Repeat if necessary to remove more stubborn stickiness.
3. White Vinegar
White vinegar is another all-purpose cleaner that works wonders throughout the house and yes, it can clean your iron soleplate, too.
Start out with a folded towel, pour vinegar on it to make a wet spot big enough for the iron, and set the cold iron on the vinegar and let it stay there for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then turn the iron on to a medium setting, iron the wet towel for a few minutes more, and lastly iron a clean, dry towel a few times to wipe it clean.
The bottom should be free of all starch residue and once again ready for you to press all that quilting fabric.
Another common household item that can clean your iron’s soleplate so it’s ready for use again is toothpaste, the normal not the gel type.
For this technique, you’ll need a soft cloth and the iron turned on to a temperature that’s warm, but low enough that you can rub the cloth over the bottom safely.
Put a little toothpaste on the cloth and rub it in circles on the warm iron, working over the surface of the soleplate as the gunk starts to come off.
Then run it over a clean, dry cloth to remove the rest of the toothpaste and your iron will be both clean and minty-fresh, ready to take on your next quilting project!
5. Baking Soda and Water
If you need something a little more abrasive than toothpaste, try baking soda and water.
Make a baking soda paste with a little water, then use the same method as the toothpaste, rubbing it onto the bottom of the warm iron with a soft cloth.
Afterward, wipe off any excess baking soda by ironing a slightly damp cloth until the soleplate is clean and shiny.
Don’t Let Spray Starch Make A Mess of Your Fabric!
Spray starch is a great help when cutting out countless small pieces of fabric to be stitched together on a quilting machine; what’s not so great is when it starts to gunk up the bottom of your iron.
When you start to see the soleplate of yours turning brown, it’s time to give the iron a quick cleaning.
With a clean iron and crisp, cleanly cut fabric that hasn’t been damaged by the iron, your quilting project will turn out to look amazing!