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How to Use and Maintain Your Steam Iron

Best Steam Iron - How to use and Maintain It

The most dangerous tool in the sewing room isn’t the machine with the fast-moving super-sharp needle. It’s the steam iron.


It’s so easy to burn yourself either by touching the iron directly, or by the steam that comes shooting out the sides. πŸ™

Do you know how to take care of your iron?

Did you know that there’s a difference between pressing and ironing?

Do you know how to remove gunk that has baked onto the sole plate of your iron?

From safety to maintenance to proper use – this video has everything you ever wanted to know about your steam iron.

A lot of people ask about what steam iron I use.

For a few years I used an Oliso Pro.

I loved it! It got nice and hot, generated plenty of steam, and didn’t need to be propped upright. But then it started to die. It never leaked, but it stopped getting up to full temperature. If I were still teaching kids I would have replaced it with the same model. That stand-up feature is AWESOME for kids who often leave the iron sitting flat on the ironing board. πŸ™„

But I don’t teach kids very often anymore, so I bought a less expensive iron – a Sunbeam Turbo Steam Iron. It’s a great iron too! It has three steam settings – no steam, normal steam, and a crazy insane amount of steam. πŸ˜‚ It holds temperature well, has a big tank for water, and has tiny steam holes – a feature I like for fusible applique.

If you’ve got an iron, you’ll need an ironing board. Here are a few more handy posts. . .

And here’s a post especially for those who do embroidery – How to Iron Your Embroidery without Smooshing the Stitches.

Here are handy links to all the posts about quilting tools and supplies.

Sewing Machine


Rotary Cutting Tools


Other General Sewing Room Supplies

One More Hugely Popular Post that Seems to Fit Here Better than Anywhere Else

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about choosing your quilt pattern.

Happy stitching!



  1. Doris Steele SAYS...

    Wendy, again, your iron is identical to mine. I need to ask a couple questions abut this iron. The self clean, button, what exactly does it do and how do you do it? Also, the lever that moves from left to right…which side is for the most steam? I have had this iron for many years and love it but to my dismay, didn’t familiarize myself with it’s features when I got it. Please advise. Sincerely and thank you again. Doris

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      I’ve. . . um. . . never used the cleaning button. πŸ˜› I fill mine with filtered water and have never needed to do anything to clean it out. πŸ™‚ The lever goes to the right for more steam, and all the way to the left for no steam.

  2. Melissa SAYS...

    Hi Wendi!
    I have been watching your tutorials all night. They are amazing! You make it all look so fun. I am new to sewing, and have struggled through each project I’ve tried. I am so appreciative to you for demonstrating the basics! Thank you.
    I have a quick question about your ironing board — what type is it? My board is pretty “puffy” for lack of a better word, and really doesn’t work at all. Can you recommend a specific board?
    Again, many thanks for your happy, welcoming website!

    • For a long time I used a Michael Graves extra wide ironing board I got at Target. I loved it, but I decided I wanted something longer so I could iron fabric selvedge to selvedge without having to shift it, so I made one from some Ikea furniture. You can see all the details here. For the padding I use a few layers (I think 3) of plain white terrycloth and it works great. It’s thick enough to hold some steam to help pressing, but not too squishy. πŸ™‚

      • Melissa SAYS...

        Thank you!

  3. Alexandria SAYS...

    Why must steam irons β€œpee?” My super expensive iron (just like yours) is now dribbling water just like every other steam iron I have ever had! Why? If we can put a manobboncthe moon, why can’t we . . . ?