Finding mold in your iron can be a frustrating and irritating discovery. Especially if you have a large pile of clothes that need pressing.
Fortunately, there are quick fixes you can use to rid your iron of mold. We also answer additional questions, covering whether the mold you found can be dangerous, how to identify it properly and how to prevent it from happening again in the future, so keep reading!
To clean mold out of an iron, mix 1 part white (distilled) vinegar, with 1 part distilled water. Pour this mixture into the water reservoir and allow the iron to steam for five minutes. This will kill all mold and its spores within the iron. Clean the iron regularly to prevent mold from growing again.
Why do irons get moldy?
Mold can grow in nearly any location as long as the conditions are correct. It only needs a few things in order to thrive, these are:
- A lack of natural sunlight
- Humidity greater than 55%
- A source of nutrients
- An ambient temperature between 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30 Celsius)
When you store an iron away in a cupboard after use, you prevent it from receiving natural sunlight. The sun’s UV rays kill mold and its spores, so keeping it in a dark environment allows it to grow uninterrupted.
The source of moisture most frequently comes from the iron’s water chamber (reservoir). As long as there is some residual moisture left over from the previous use, the humidity level in the chamber will be greater than 55%, providing the optimal moisture level for mold to grow.
You may be wondering what source of nutrients mold could possibly be living off of in an iron. The most likely source is household dust and other organic matter.
Unsettlingly, the majority of dust found in the home is made up of shed skin cells. This dust can travel to any part of the home and can find its way into an iron, providing the nutrients it needs to grow.
The temperature required for mold to grow, falls between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-26 Celsius). The average American home is set to a near-constant temperature of between 68-72 Fahrenheit, providing the perfect range for mold to not only grow but flourish.
What kind of mold grows on irons?
The most common forms of mold found growing in homes are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus, although there are many other strains that can also breed.
Most often, these molds come in shades of white, green, and black, although red, orange, and blue strains are also known. They also often appear with a powdery, velvety, or even slimy texture.
The very molds you find throughout your home, perhaps growing on your bathroom ceiling or in a cupboard are what could well be growing on and in your iron as well.
Is the mold that grows on an iron dangerous?
Many strains of mold that can be found commonly in the home are harmless to humans. However, there are several types that are known to cause illness and even serious conditions in humans, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea, and skin irritation. In people with immune system deficiencies, reactions to some strains may even require hospitalization for treatment.
The strain of mold with the highest likelihood of causing severe reactions in humans is Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as black mold. Black mold is not only dangerous to humans but can be equally hazardous to pets. Despite being known as black mold, this strain can also have a greenish appearance.
As it is difficult to tell which strain of mold you are dealing with when cleaning a moldy iron, you should always ensure that you are fully protected. This includes the use of a breathing mask to prevent inhalation of spores, rubber gloves to stop any contact between the spores and skin which can cause irritation, and goggles to remove the possibility of allergic reactions such as allergic conjunctivitis.
How to clean mold off an iron
The good news is, that should you discover mold in your iron’s water reservoir, it’s very simple to remove.
The best advice we can give here is to check your iron’s manual before you begin to clean. The make and model of iron you own may have features that don’t require a full descale if it has the functionality to do so itself for example, and there may be warnings on which chemicals can be safely used.
Read this manual first to make sure you are not doing anything which could damage the iron or void the warranty. Once you’re happy, you can begin.
You’ll only need a few things to begin cleaning your iron of mold, and it can be completed in a few easy steps.
What you’ll need:
- Distilled (white) vinegar
- Distilled water
- Paper towels or a clean cloth
- Breathing mask
- Rubber gloves
As you are dealing with mold and the possibility of its spores spreading, you will need to wear a breathing mask, rubber gloves, and some protective eyewear. This will prevent contact with the spores on your skin, eyes, or lungs.
If there is any residual water left in the reservoir, pour it away outside of the home. This prevents mold spores from being spread throughout your house whilst emptying.
Mix 1 part of white vinegar with 1 part distilled water and pour into the iron. Place the iron down somewhere safe in an upright position and allow it to steam on its own for a minimum of five minutes. This will allow the vinegar-infused steam to penetrate each part of the iron, killing any mold or spores.
Turn off the iron and allow it to cool down somewhere safe. Once cooled completely, drain the water/vinegar solution from the iron.
Dab a little distilled vinegar onto the cloth or paper towels you are using, and begin to wipe the bottom and exterior surfaces of the iron. Ensure the iron is completely cool before doing so.
Using the toothbrush and a little vinegar, gently scrub the steam vents. There are mineral deposits that can become lodged here, and these can be easily removed with a little elbow grease and vinegar. This takes away a perfect location for mold to accumulate.
Once again, fill your iron, but this time with only distilled water, and leave to steam for an additional 5 minutes. This is to drive out the remaining vinegar and limit its residual odor.
How to prevent mold from growing on an iron
The best way to prevent mold from growing in an iron in the first place is to ensure it is kept as dry and clean as possible.
After each usage, ensure you fully empty the water reservoir and leave the cap open to allow moisture to evaporate. You do not need to deep clean your iron after each use, but keeping a check on the bottom and steam vents is good practice to ensure that there is no buildup of organic materials.
If possible, store your iron in a location where it can be exposed to at least some natural sunlight. The sun’s UV rays will kill mold and its spores, and as many irons have transparent water reservoirs, the sunlight should be able to penetrate through the plastic and eliminate any mold living there.