The tap water here in Las Vegas is really hard so I don't dare use it. I tried using the filtered water from my fridge and still got burnt minerals spraying out of my iron every time I turned it on. So I filled the water tank with some diluted vinegar (half tap water, half vinegar), plugged it in, let it get hot, then I held it over the sink and pressed the steam button repeatedly until it stopped spitting gunk and the tank was empty. Then I repeated this process with tap water to flush the vinegar out. I didn't want to go back to the disaster of splattering burnt minerals so I bought some distilled water but still wasn't sure if that was the best option.
What kind of water do you use in your iron? I recently posed this question on social media and got a lot of different responses so I had to do some digging. Here's what I found...
None at All
A lot of you responded that you don't put any water in your iron, instead you're spritzing with a spray bottle as needed. This makes perfect sense, especially if you've had issues with leaking, dribbling, spitting, etc. One quilter even responded that she has tried cheap and expensive irons and they all leaked no matter what kind of water she used!
This is what most iron manufacturers recommend and Rowenta specifically recommend this with their irons. If you're lucky enough to live where your water isn't crazy hard, then this is the best option. If your water is hard, it may help to use a Brita water filter or a similar water filter.
Distilled water has had all of the minerals removed. This means that distilled water is only H2O, no other molecules, so in theory this is ideal for irons. The problem is that distilled water is slightly acidic. Acidic water is more corrosive and over time damages the metal in irons. There is an exception though. There are irons specifically designed to withstand the corrosive property of distilled water and will state in the manual to only use distilled water. For those with hard water, diluting distilled water with filtered tap water is also an option as this will reduce the acidity.
Bottled Drinking Water
If you've got hard water like me, then bottled drinking water is a great option as long as it isn't spring water. Spring water tends to be full of minerals.
Problems with Dribbling & Leaking
There are valves within irons to regulate how much steam is released. These can get mineral build up on them and then they no longer seal. This leads to all the unpredictable drips. To fix this, put some bottled drinking water or filtered tap water in your iron, get it good and hot, hold it over the sink and repeatedly press the steam button while turning the steam dial up and down. Moving the valves while pumping steam through them may knock enough of the mineral deposits off to let the valves close and stop the leaks.
Descaling is using a chemical (such as vinegar) to remove limescale and mineral deposits. Doing this for irons is widely debated. Vinegar is pretty acidic and can damage the internal parts of irons. There are also descaling agents designed for coffee makers (think Keurig) that are effective because they are acidic but can cause damage. Vinegar is cheaper and it solved my problem so it's my go to. Check your manual before descaling or do this knowing it may cause damage.
Over and over, I read that emptying the tank and leaving it open to air out after use is essential for reducing mineral deposits in irons. Sounds like it's time that I put forth the effort to do this.
What kind of water do you use? Or are you a spritz only kind of quilter? Do you descale or empty the tank? Let me know in the comments below.