Why Does My Steam Iron Smell? (& How To Stop It)

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Why Does My Steam Iron Smell?

Many are the advantages of owning a steam iron, from giving your attire a crisp and professional look to making the heavy task of ironing easy and fast. However, there’s a common problem steam iron owners face, and that’s how to handle the unbearable smell that comes from the steam tank.

A steam iron will begin to smell bad when it’s dirty. The uncleanliness can result from a contaminated water tank with grown mold or stinky water. Water left in the steam iron tank after use can lead to the growth of bacteria, resulting in the odor. 

Keeping your steam iron in warm or dark closets is a perfect breeding area for bacteria and stink in the tubes. This article will help you know the cause of the smell and how to deal with it.

How Do I Stop My Steam Iron From Smelling?

The best way to stop your steam iron from smelling is to clean the iron and its water tank after each use. Mix water and vinegar to create a sanitizing solution to run through the steamer, then thoroughly clean a small part of the steamer at a time until finished.

Many things cause the odor derived from a steam iron. It ranges from styling products to specks of dirt and oils. If you want to stop the bad moisture oozing out of your steam iron, there are different ways to clean it up.

Here are the steps to clean your steam iron:

1. Unplug Iron and Let It Cool Down

Make sure to unplug your steam iron from its electric source to avoid the possibility of an electric shock or accident. Then, give it plenty of time to fully cool off before you start the cleaning process. Once the iron is cool, empty its tank.

2. Scrub the Tank’s Insides

It may seem like an impossible task, but with the help of a bottle or toothbrush, you can effectively scrub and remove all the bacteria present inside. Usually, the foul odor oozes from the steam iron tank, so scrubbing it should be enough to remove the stink.

3. Clean the Tank with Vinegar and Water

Another reason your steam iron stinks is because of the tank itself. To keep the tank clean, you must empty the water holder after each use, and then clean it thoroughly to avoid any possibilities of stink or mold. Mix one-part vinegar to two parts of water. Set iron to steam with the mixture inside, then run it until half the solution is gone. This will keep bacteria in the tank and nozzles. Then, soak with distilled water.

4. Soak Hoses and Nozzles

Many steam irons come with detachable hoses and nozzles so they can be cleaned and dried after use. Make sure to check that these are fully dry before putting the machine back together to prevent mildew or mold development.

5. Consider Replacing Your Steamer’s Body Parts

Sometimes, scrubbing might not work because the stink has attached itself to the tank. This tends to result from a lack of maintenance over a long time. If this is the case, you might want to consider an upgrade or replacement for your steamer’s parts or get a new steamer altogether.

Why Does My Iron Smell Like It’s Burning?

An iron may smell like it’s burning due to residue build-up of synthetic fabrics and ingredients on iron soleplates or inside the appliance. If you live in an area with hard water and use the iron’s steam feature, those minerals can build up on the soleplate and inside the steam holes.

If this residue isn’t cleaned, irons work less effectively. It can lead to burnt smells, uneven steam production, and burn marks that stain your clothes. Always let the steamer cool down and clean the appliance after use.

How Do I Clean My Clogged Iron Steam Vents?

To clean clogged iron steam vents, use a pipe cleaner to clean the vents gently. Dip the pipe cleaner in distilled water, insert it into a hole, and twist to remove any bacterial build-up. Clogged steam vents prevent the efficiency of a steam iron because it blocks the free-flow path of water. 

In addition, regular cleaning using white vinegar makes it function better.

How To Clean a Scorched Iron

Pressing clothes can become tiring when it gets burnt. The burn spots on the iron’s soleplate might look hard to clean, but there are different and proven ways to get the soleplate cleaned. Here are the ways to clean a scorched iron:

  • Use Newspapers: Heat the iron to the highest temperature. This method involves laying newspapers on dry clothes and ironing the newspaper to rid the iron of burnt fabric pieces.
  • Use sea salt: Lay dry cotton cloth or paper on the board and sprinkle some sea salt on it. After heating the iron to the highest temperature, run it on the salt a few times, and then let it cool. After the iron is cooled down, clean off the salt with a cloth.
  • Apply toothpaste: Heat the iron and cover the iron with non-gel toothpaste for 2-3 minutes. Then clean off the paste.
  • Clean with dishwashing detergent: Soak an old towel or fabric in a warm bowl of dishwashing water. Place the iron on the towel and wipe the cloth with a sponge, subtly scrubbing at its plate.
  • Use baking soda: Mix some baking soda with water to create a paste and rub the iron. You can use a soft brush to scrub the base of your iron. Wipe clean with water.

How Can I Make My Steam Iron Smell Nice?

You might wonder how to maintain a pleasant odor even after getting a new steamer. Have you tried additives?

You can make a steam iron smell nice by using scented additives. These products help ensure the odor is gone and your clothes are clean. Be sure to research which products can be used safely in your steamer’s tank before purchasing.

These products can also be sprayed on your clothes or added to the tank before use. An advantage of using scented ironing water is it makes your clothes smell incredible.

To apply scented ironing water, always check the care label if it’s iron safe or which beddings it applies.

Turn iron and make sure your ironing surface is clean and smooth. Add one or two capfuls to the water in your steamer and start your ironing journey.


There’s nothing like crisp ironed bedding or well-ironed items of clothing to boast of at the end of the day. If you’re a lover of arranged and pressed clothing, you need to pay attention to the maintenance and care of your steam iron. If the soleplate is non-stick, wipe with soapy water on the cloth followed by a damp cloth. A properly functioning steam iron is productive.


You may also be interested in… How To Get Rid of Algae in Your Steam Iron? and Do You Iron Chinos?