I've gone both ways. I've bought an expensive iron, carefully used only distilled water and emptied it after every use. And it started to leak after less than one year of daily use.
And I've bought cheap irons, and tossed them when they start to leak.
When my current iron started to leave dark marks on my quilts, I decided it was time for an "iron cleaning party." Here are the irons I haven't tossed:
Seven! That's ridiculous! If I could rescue just a few of these, I would have more than a hundred dollars to spend on fabric! (Or maybe a new ironing board cover?)
I found this "Steam Iron Cleaner" at Hancock Fabrics. It cost less than $2, and as I said, if I rescued only two or three of my seven irons, it would be more than worth it! The instructions call for 2 oz. of the Steam Iron Cleaner in 1 cup of boiling water. Pour the hot liquid in a cold iron and let it sit for 15 minutes. Shake the iron a few times to loosen any "scale" that might have collected inside.
Then empty the iron and refill with warm (not boiling) water. Empty that water to rinse -- I repeated this twice. If the iron had a "clean" setting, I heated it and used that. Some of the irons spit bits of dust,, rust, and scale. I repeated rinsing until there were no more "icky bits."
Next, two of the irons had "gunk" on the soleplate. Here is my "take to class" iron with dark marks on the soleplate.
I've used soleplate cleaner before, with good results.
Squirt a ribbon of iron-off about 1-2" long onto a clean cloth. Then rub it onto the soleplate of a hot (no steam!) iron.
Rub the iron on a clean part of the cloth until no residue remains. My "take to class" iron still has a small rusty spot that I can't seem to get off.
Don't try to scrape it off using a knife!
And don't put the hot iron on the plastic dish drainer to drain!
So far, I've tested four of the newly cleaned irons. None leak or spit steam! Samosa is pretty sure I put all those irons on the ironing board for him to sniff.
Sadly, the one iron that still leaks is the most expensive -- the Reliable Velocity, that I bought at full retail for $149! This cheap Sunbeam I bought at the base exchange for less than $20, and it remains my favorite! Not too heavy, good steam, 30 minute auto off.
Oh! And when you're cleaning your irons -- don't let the cords dangle to tempt the kitten! I'm trying to train him that electrical cords spray water. Every time he starts to play with one, I spray him with my water bottle!
Do you have a favorite iron? Have you had problems with leaks or spots?
From the desk of your