What Is Ironing Water? (and is it worth using)

If you own a steam iron you’ll know that you need to add water to the tank on the iron to generate steam. If you live in a part of the country that has hard water (which is around 60% of the UK) someone might have suggested that you should use ironing water when using your steam iron or steam mop.

But what is ironing water, what does it do, how do you use it and is it worth using? If you want to know the answer to all of these questions, keep reading.

What Exactly Is Ironing Water?

Ironing water is a water based liquid that is completely free from minerals and germs & bacteria. Many ironing waters contain parabens and perfumes to give the water a pleasant smell.

Ironing water is basically distilled water with perfume added. 

You add ironing water to the water reservoir on your steam iron and every time you use the steam button you get a perfumed steam which is designed to make your laundry smell good.

Some ironing water manufacturers claim their product can prevent the buildup of static when you iron, but this is not a common feature.

Are There Any Benefits To Using Ironing Water?

There are several benefits to using ironing water which include;

  • Reduces The Buildup Of Limescale
    Most of the tap water in the UK and even a lot of the bottled water that can be bought from supermarkets contains minerals like magnesium and calcium. These minerals are safe to drink but can build up in any appliance that heats water. Mineral build up in irons can damage components which will eventually lead to the breakdown of the iron.
  • Saves Energy
    To create steam in your iron there’s a heating element that heats the water and turns it into vapour. If there’s a buildup of limescale on that element it takes more energy to heat the water to the same degree.
  • Lowers Electricity Costs
    If your iron has to work harder to produce steam, it means it’s using extra electricity, which will make your bills higher.
  • Less Chance Of Breathing In Viruses Or Bacteria
    Not usually a problem in the UK unless you use water from a source other than your local water authority. However, some water sources can be contaminated or become contaminated. Once that water is turned into steam, you could potentially breathe in any harmful germs or bacteria lurking in that water.
  • Reduce Static Buildup
    There are some ironing water manufacturers that claim their product can prevent or at least, cut down any chances of static buildup.

Are There Any Disadvantages Of Using Ironing Water?

There are some disadvantages to using ironing water which include;

  • Added Expense
    As ironing water is not completely necessary, it is an extra expense that bumps up your shopping bill.
  • Not Recommended For All Steam Irons
    Many steam iron manufacturers advise against using ironing water in their products.
  • Can Become Too Hot
    In some cases, the ironing water can get too hot which could cause damage to the internal workings of the iron.

Can You Use Ironing Water In All Steam Irons?

Ironing water can be used in many irons, although we’d recommend consulting your user manual before using it in yours. Many steam generator irons state that ironing water is not suitable for use in their products.

You should also check the ironing water’s label to be certain that it’s safe to use in your particular iron.

Ironing water should be added to the water reservoir on the steam iron in the correct quantity (as stated on the bottle) and mixed with your regular 50:50 mix. After use, the contents of the water reservoir should be poured away.

Ironing water isn’t suitable for use on all fabrics and should really be limited to use with;

  • Bedding
  • Cotton
  • Blended Cotton

What’s Wrong With Just Using Tap Water?

tap water from kitchen sink

You can use the water that comes from your tap in your steam iron here in the UK but you need to be aware of the minerals in that water. Minerals like calcium and magnesium are found in much of the UK’s water supply.

These minerals are perfectly safe to drink but they can cause havoc to anything that heats up tap water. If you want to see just what happens when hard water is heated up, have a look inside your kettle.

The chances are there will be a whitish, yellow or brown deposit forming around the heating element, bottom and/or sides of your kettle. That hard, crusty almost rock-like formation is mineral buildup and is commonly known as limescale.

Tap water here in the UK can vary from soft to very hard with around ⅔ of the UK having hard or very hard water.

Areas Of Hard Water In The UK

Hard water areas in the UK include;

  • The South East
  • East Anglia
  • Central England
  • Yorkshire
  • Wales

There are other pockets of hard water situated in other parts of the UK but those above are the most prevalent.

What About Distilled Water?

Distilled water, also known as deionised water or pure water, is water that has had all of the minerals and other impurities removed. You would assume that this would be the best type of water to use in a steam iron.

However, the majority of steam iron manufacturers recommend using a 50:50 mix of tap water and distilled or deionised water. This is because using only distilled water can lead to the iron spitting and even leaking.

Is Using Ironing Water Essential?

You may be wondering, do I need to use ironing water? Well, no, you don’t need to use ironing water. In fact some manufacturers advise against using it in their irons. They say that adding extra chemicals and perfumes to the iron can cause problems.

This is because in some cases, the chemicals don’t disperse as they’re designed to do. Which can lead to the seals and other internal components wearing which can cause leaks.

There’s also the possibility of the ironing water achieving a temperature greater than the clothes being ironed can withstand. There have been instances where this has led to the iron malfunctioning or breaking down completely.

Many people use regular tap water in their irons even in hard water areas without any apparent problems.

Where Can You Get Ironing Water?

If you’ve decided you’d like to try using ironing water in your iron, it can be purchased from many supermarkets in the UK or online.

Some of the more popular types of ironing water include;

Aqua Noir Ironing Water

1.1 LITRE Deionised,Demineralised Pure Ironing water Free of perfume & Softeners For Steam Iron, Cleaning (UK COMPANY)
  • RECOMMENDED: Many steam iron manufacturers recommend the use of demineralised water to prolong the lifespan of your iron Please do not use perfumed water, water for tumble dryer, vinegar, starch, descaling agents, ironing acids, chemically descaled water or other chemicals as they may cause water spitting, brown staining or damage to your steam iron
  • PROTECT YOUR IRON: Helps reduce corrosion and scaling of iron through the elimination of impurities entering your iron in the first place.

This deionised, demineralised pure ironing water is perfume and softener free.

Lenor Steamer & Ironing Water

Lenor Steamer & Ironing Water Spring Awakening 1 litre
  • Laundry Accessories
  • Easy ironing Perfect for Use in Clothes Steamers Prevents Limescale Build Up Plus Fresh Scent

This ironing water from Lenor is claimed to prevent limescale buildup and has a fresh scent.

Comfort Vaporesse Ironing Water

6x Comfort Vaporesse Original/Blue Ironing Water 1L
  • Comfort Vaporesse Ironing Water 1 Liter Bottles Easy To Iron With Comfort Vaporesse Iron Less Ugh. And More Aaah. Enjoy The Fresh Long Lasting Scent Smooth Out Wrinkles More Easily As You Slide Through The Load.
  • 6x Comfort Vaporesse Original Blue Ironing Water 1L

This product by Comfort is also claimed to prevent limescale from building up and has a pleasant scent as well as making it easier to remove creases and wrinkles.

Are There Any Alternatives To Ironing Water?

You do not need to use ironing water at all and there are certain iron manufacturers that state it should not be used in their irons. Alternatives include;

  • Tap Water
    It is perfectly fine to just use regular tap water in your steam iron. You will just need to descale your iron regularly to prevent a build up of limescale.
  • Tap Water & Distilled Water
    Many experts recommend using tap water and distilled water in a 50:50 mixture.
  • Homemade Ironing Water
    To make your own ironing water you will need to mix 10 to 15 drops of your favourite essential oil with ¼ of a cup of vodka or witch hazel and leave to stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Then add 2 cups of distilled water to the mixture and pour into a spray bottle and swirl around to mix well. You can now use this to spray onto garments as you iron them. 

The homemade ironing water can also be used as a fabric freshener. Although you do need to be careful as both the essential oil and the vodka are flammable. This means taking extra care to prevent spraying on or around any source of fire like candles etc.

Using The Calc-Clean Function

To prevent a buildup of limescale, many steam irons have a calc-clean function. This function is designed to remove any hard, mineral deposits and all that you need to do is rinse the inside of the iron to wash them away.

Some irons have special cartridges which need replacing after a set amount of time. 

Whichever system your iron uses, you should follow the cleaning guidelines set out in your user manual. In some cases you will need to perform the calc-clean at regular intervals while some irons have a calc-clean light that indicates it’s time to perform the cleaning task.

Using A Steam Iron Descaler

There are various products available that are said to descale steam irons in the same way that kettles are descaled. However, you need to check in your user manual that the product you intend using to descale your iron is approved by the manufacturer.

You see, there are filters and other intricate mechanical components in your steam iron that water has to travel through. You need to be 100% certain that the product you’re intending to use to descale your iron doesn’t cause any other problems.

If you cannot find any reference in your user manual, we recommend contacting the iron manufacturer for specific advice.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is ironing water made of?

Ironing water is made from distilled water, parabens and perfumes.

What can I use as ironing water?

You can use regular tap water, a 50:50 mixture of tap water and distilled water or a shop bought ironing water.

Can you iron without ironing water?

You can iron without using ironing water. If you own a steam iron and you don’t put any water at all in the water tank, just turn the dial to dry/steam or select the minimum setting.

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