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How to Clean an Ironing Board Cover Q&A

by Household Essentials • July 01, 2016

Clean laundry should be pressed on a clean ironing board cover.  That’s a given!  But how do we clean up that cover when it’s spent too long behind the door, in the garage, as a catch-all workspace or even—perish the thought—as a T.V. tray?

We asked Household Essentials’ resident experts for their best advice on cleaning ironing board covers. Here’s what they had to say!

Q: Where do I start?

Expert: Always read the label.  Just like with clothing, ironing covers and pads have sewn-in labels to tell you what they’re made of and how to take care of them.  Read the label for a quick overview of what you’re dealing with.  Because some covers and pads are cotton, others will be foam, and still others might have special coatings—like stain or scorch coatings or even heat reflection—that require special care.  Read first, clean second!

Most Household Essentials covers and pads are cotton covers with a scorch coating.  They may have a fiber or foam pad sewn in (one-piece construction) or be a cover only (no pad included).


Q: Is my cover machine washable?

Expert: Probably not, but read the label.  Most covers and pads will say something like "damp wipe", which basically means to spot clean and wipe down with a damp (not dripping wet), cloth.  This is to protect the foam or fiber pad inside the cover.  Machine washing can cause fiber and foam to clump or break up, which can make for a lumpy ironing surface. 


Q: What exactly is that stuff on my board?

Expert: How should I know?!  But, really, if you’ve only used your board for ironing, that "stuff" is probably residue leftover from starch or other fabric treatments, like stain removers or even fabric softener.  These things are totally normal.  Household Essentials Cover and Pads have a stain-resistant coating to help keep that stuff to a minimum, but it will happen from time to time.  Still, the silicone-coated or Nanomax treatments make clean up easier.  Other brands also frequently have some kind of stain-resistant coatings, too. 

If you’ve used your board for other things, only you know what's on it!  But food stains, ink stains, and most other household stains come out with a bit of care and elbow grease.  Pair the stain with the right remover, spot treat, then spot clean.  Keep in mind, those kind of stains--and the work of getting them out--can wear out those special coatings I just mentioned.


Q: How do I get dirt and stains off?

Expert: Love it!  Okay, let's tackle it.

1. Knock off loose dirt, dust, and debris with a dry, soft bristled brush.
The idea here is to get rid of as much gunk as you can before you set out to clean.  A lot of "dirt" is just dust that settles in from disuse.  Boards stored in garages, under beds, or in basements frequently need to be brushed off.  Tilt the board at an angle to really get dirt to fall away and not re-settle on the cover!
2. With light short strokes and a dry soft cloth, brush off remaining dirt, dust, or debris.
Again, you're getting rid of as much as possible before adding dampness.  The short strokes help prevent dirt from spreading. 
3.  Pre-treat stains.  Follow stain-remover directions.
For food stains, oil or grease, and other tough stains, pretreat with a stain remover designed for the purpose.  Use as little as possible to get the stain out.  Stain removers can make break down stain and scorch coatings, making boards more susceptible to staining in the future. 
4. Dampen a clean, soft cotton cloth and wipe down the cover.  If needed, use a mild detergent.
5. Allow cover to dry completely.
  Iron the cover to make sure any lingering wetness is out.

TEST: Iron a clean, light-colored t-shirt (or similar) to see if the stained area transfers any color!  If it doesn't, you're good to go!  If it does, you may need to replace the cover.


Q: When should I replace my ironing board cover and pad?

Expert:  As needed!  A cover and / or pad needs to be replaced when it stops being an effective helper.  If your pad starts to feel clumpy, heavily creased--or anything other than smooth--it's time to think about replacing.  If a cover has been scorched or heavily soiled, replace it.  (Yes, covers can be cleaned, but some kinds of stains, like oil-based stains, can linger and transfer to clothing.) If a pad or cover is crumbling, disintigrating, or otherwise showing signs of wear, tear, or old-age, replace it!  A good rule of thumb is 5-7 years.  But again, base your replacement on how the cover and pad is performing.  If you are getting good results--you're probably still fine!


Q: Should I clean the rest of my ironing board?  Like the legs and part under the cover and pad?

Expert: Yes!  Periodically, give the entire board a clean.  This is a good time to check the board and make sure all parts are working properly.  Think of it as routine annual maintenance.

1. Set up your ironing board is if you were going to iron.
2. Remove the cover and pad. 
3. Clean the exposed surface of your ironing board with a mild spray cleaner or just clear water.  Plastic and fibertech boards do well with a white vinegar solution (mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water).  For careful cleaners, distilled water is even better as it has no minerals that could leave residue (but that's a bit much for most people!).  Steel top boards do well with steel cleaner and elbow grease.
4. Dry the surface with a clean cotton or microfiber cloth.
5. Clean the legs of the ironing board.  Use a mild cleaner for plastics, wood cleaner / polish for wood, and steel cleaner for steel. 
6. Allow the board to dry completely before re-installing the cover and folding up the board.

That's it from our experts!  What tips do you have for keeping your ironing board cover in good shape?  Tell us in the Comments below.
As always, click here if you have questions you want us to try to answer!

Comments - 1 Response

Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 12:09:09 AM Mountain Standard Time

My cloth and foam Cover is from Skilcraft, and the only tag on it states that it was made by The Lighthouse for the Blind 123 State St., New Orleans. I have some deep scorch marks on it and when making a quilt top of denim some of the polyester thread melted on the cover. This stuff looks like tar. I'd wash it in the wag machine but I would hate to see that gunk transfer to my washer. Should I just toss it? REPLY: YES, TOSS IT. THIS ONE HAS GIVEN UP ITS LAST.

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