First check the level of water hardness in your area. A water level above 12 is potentially damaging to your iron.
Why is hard water harmful ?
Hard water is known for causing the build-up of limescale and it is this that makes it potentially damaging to your iron. Just as limescale can cause damage to your water pipes, if it is allowed to build up in your iron, it can do the following:
- Block the water reservoir, preventing water from piping steam out.
- Cut off the iron's power supply, or block off the steam vent leading to overheating
- It gradually degrades the metal parts of the iron. The iron will eventually grow a furry rust over the flat metal surface, which stains fabrics when applied to clothing.
Unfortunately boiling or filtering the water first will not help to reduce limescale either.
Is soft water OK?
Soft water contains a higher quantity of Sodium to break down the minerals associated with hard water. The lower mineral deposits mean the water does not degrade the metal components in the iron, nor does it produce limescale build-up. It is therefore safe to use soft water from the tap but not if water has been softened with salt (i.e. from a water softener). This is because the salt residue will eventually erode the iron and block the filter.
So what can I use instead of tap water?
It will depend on the make and model of your iron but one option is to use a specially formulated distilled or de-ionised water. This is sold in supermarkets but can prove an expensive route to take and not all manufacturers recommend it. Alternatively you can try using bottled spring water or even filtered water but again you will need to check the manufacturer's instructions.
Anything else I can do to minimise the risk of damage?
Empty the reservoir after use and keep you iron clean. For tips, click on the link belowHow to keep your iron clean