Why Is My Steam Generator Iron Leaking Water?

If you have taken the plunge and bought a steam generator iron, you have entered a whole new level of ironing. Let’s face it, electric irons are cheap even electric steam irons aren’t too expensive. But steam generator irons are in a whole different league, the cheaper models are around £50, but steam generator irons can cost as much as 10 times that amount.

Even then, as long as they’re working perfectly, it doesn’t work out so much of an expensive deal, £5 per week assuming it only lasts as long as its 2-year guarantee. If, however, you’ve only been the proud owner of a steam generator iron for a month or so and it’s leaking water, that’s not good. Read on and we’ll show you the main reasons steam generator irons leak water.

Please note: this is our guide to steam generator irons that are leaking. If you are looking for our buyers guide please click here.

What Causes Steam Generator Irons To Leak?

There can be any number of reasons why the steam generator is leaking, some are easy to fix, but some, well let’s just say you’ll be thankful for that guarantee. So let’s get into it, feel free to skip to the section that applies to you to save you time.

Descale Mode/Calc-Clean/Easy De-Cal Activated

If your model has a descale function, or as some call it a calc-clean function, this should be accompanied by either a flashing light or a beeping sound. This is probably why it’s leaking water from the soleplate.

Water Residue From The Descale Mode/Calc-Clean/Easy De-Cal

After this function has run its course, any water remaining will drip out from the soleplate. This is a perfectly normal part of the process and there’s no need for alarm. Just wipe the residue water away with a cloth to dry the soleplate.

Perfumed/odorised Water

If you’ve used perfumed or odorised water in your steam generator iron, that can cause it to leak through the soleplate. Unplug the iron and empty and rinse the water tank to remove all traces of the perfumed water. Many steam generator manufacturers don’t recommend using odorisers in their machines, and this could invalidate your guarantee.

Water Condensed In The Hose

If this is the first time of using the steam generator iron or it hasn’t been used for a while, steam in the hose can condense into water. This is usually an easy one to solve. Just point the iron away from the clothes and press the trigger until the water stops and steam appears, then go back to ironing.

Overuse Of The Boost Function

If you use the steam boost function too often and in quick succession, it can cause a build-up of water on the soleplate and leakage can occur. To remedy this, just keep on ironing without using the boost function for short while to allow the steam to build-up again.

Operating The Iron On Too Low A Heat Setting

If your iron has a temperature dial and it’s not set above the second dot, the iron will not get hot enough to steam. This can cause water to accumulate on the soleplate and leak when you activate the steam function. The remedy is to increase the heat setting and allow the iron to heat up for around a minute and then resume ironing.

Condensation On The Ironing Board

Steam generator irons produce a lot of steam, many ironing boards weren’t designed to cope with that amount of steam. The steam can condense on the ironing board cover, which can look like the soleplate is leaking. You can solve this by placing a towel or other water-absorbent cloth between the ironing board and the garment you’re ironing. 

This will minimise any water. Or replace the ironing board or at least the ironing board cover. There are some very good ironing boards on the market now designed specifically for steam generator irons.

Clogged Soleplate

Over time the holes that the steam emits from on the soleplate of the steam generator iron can get clogged with limescale. This can cause water to drip from the soleplate. To prevent this descale your iron with an iron descaler, or use white vinegar, or if your machine has one, run the descaling program.

Steam Hose Damaged

Sometimes it could look like the water is coming from the soleplate when in actual fact it’s coming from a crack, break or loose connection in the hose that supplies the iron with steam.

How To Descale A Steam Generator Iron

As you might have noticed from reading the above causes of leaks from the soleplates of steam generator irons, sometimes it just needs to be descaled. If you are fortunate enough to have an integrated descaler on your iron, just operate it and your laughing. If not, follow the guide below.

  1. Empty the water tank
    Be sure to remove all water from the tank.
  2. Rinse the soleplate
    Pour a small drop of the descaler liquid on a soft cloth and apply to the soleplate of the iron. Be sure to cover it all.
  3. Pour descaler into the water tank
    Pour  500 ml (¾ pint) descaler into the water tank and close the lid.
  4. Turn on the iron
    Switch the iron on and set to the hot setting.
  5. Remove the iron from the base
    Lift the iron and press the steam button for 2 minutes, then allow it to rest for 2 minutes and repeat until all of the descaler has worked through.
  6. Rinse the water tank
    Remove all traces of the descaler from the water tank and refill with clean water.
  7. Allow the iron to heat up
    Once the iron has heated up follow step 5 again.

That’s all there is to it.

How Often Does A Steam Generator Iron Need Descaling?


The frequency of descaling depends on a number of things. How often you use it, how hard the water is that you fill it with. There are a few indicators that will notify you of the presence of limescale build-up. They are:

  • Reduced steam output
    This is a true indicator of the presence of limescale. The holes that allow steam to pass through the soleplate of the iron get partially clogged with limescale, this reduces the amount of steam produced by the iron.
  • The indicator light flashes or is on constantly
    Some steam generator irons have a limescale or descale warning light. When a build-up is detected it will come on. Once you have completed the descale process the light should stay off.
  • White or brown stains on the clothes
    White stains are a sure indicator of limescale build-up, brown stains are usually caused by other impurities in the water usually iron. If you notice either, it’s time to descale.

It’s best practise to descale a steam generator iron after every 10 hours of use to be sure of problem-free ironing. Unless you use de-mineralised or de-ionised water because most of the impurities have already been removed from these types of water. However, many steam generator iron manufacturers recommend using a 50/50 solution with tap water, so descaling will be necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my steam generator iron leaking water?

Your steam generator iron could be leaking water because it needs descaling, or it could be running too cool try turning the heat up. Sometimes it’s overuse of the steam boost.

How do you unclog a steam generator iron?

To unclog a steam generator iron, pour 500 ml of descaler in the tank, allow to reach the correct heat, then press the steam button for 2 minutes, rest it for 2 minutes and repeat until all of the liquid is gone. Then fill the tank with water and reheat, press steam for 2 minutes rest and repeat until all the water is used up.

Why does my steam generator iron spit water?

If your steam generator iron is spitting water it could be it’s not running hot enough, try turning the heat up and waiting until it reaches the correct temperature or it could need descaling.

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