Should I use Distilled Water in My Iron?

For many people, figuring out which water is best to use for ironing is often a confusing task. Unless your iron manual clearly states which water is best to use, it isn’t exactly easy to say which water is compatible with your iron model, due to different irons requiring different water.

So, do you need distilled water for ironing? In an ideal world, you would fill your iron with 50% regular tap water, and 50% distilled water for the best performance out of your iron. If you do not have your specific iron’s manual, or simply do not know what water your iron should take, this is the safest and best balance of water to make sure that your iron will last a long time and function efficiently.

What is Distilled Water for Irons?

Distilled water, which is often called demineralised water is a specific type of purified water, which is created by boiling normal tap water in one container and catching the condensed (evaporated) water vapor into a separate container.

By doing this to the water you are removing the minerals and impurities from the water because they do not rise and boil with the water vapor, so they will remain in the original container with the non-vaporised water.

This process is very time-consuming and not a practical way to create demineralised water for your iron; however, as an alternative, you can simply purchase distilled water at your local grocery store or shop, and even online.

If you do as suggested – combine 50% of the distilled water you purchase with 50% tap water. Your iron will thank you by lasting a long time without any mineral buildup or blockages within the steam holes, so is well worth doing.

Can you use Tap Water as an Alternative to Iron Distilled Water?

Fortunately, in today’s world, the majority of modern-day steam irons are being created and designed to use drinking water, i.e. your good old tap water. This is much less time-consuming and isn’t as much of a burden to your budget either.

Even so, most manufacturers have added caution for individuals who live in areas with hard water – which is a lot of areas in the UK. If this is you then you should dilute your tap water before adding it to your iron.

The problem with hard water is that it causes mineral buildup within the iron, which then causes clogging. Clogging your iron will not only reduce your iron’s efficiency and ability to create steam effectively, but it will certainly reduce the longevity of it too!

There are also plenty of irons on the market that have an anti-calc feature or a calc cleaning feature that takes just seconds to self-clean. These irons help keep the holes in your iron’s soleplate from getting clogged with calcium deposits and allow steam to move freely out of the iron.

When you shouldn’t use Distilled Water for Irons

Due to distilled water for irons not containing any minerals, this can occasionally cause it to “scavenge” minerals from the iron itself, with some irons actually specifically needing regular tap water in order to prevent this from happening.

Depending on the way your iron has been built and designed, distilled water could potentially cause some serious damage and corrosion. Typically the manufacturer of your iron will make it abundantly clear whether or not this applies to your iron, so there isn’t too much need for concern. It is still advised to double-check though in your user manual or online.

In addition to this, it could be that distilled iron water is causing your iron to spit and or leak. This is due to distilled ironing water not containing any impurities, meaning that it will boil at a higher temperature. Most irons will heat the water in the heating chamber at 100°C (212° F), which converts it to steam. The distilled water has which hasn’t yet been vapourised will subsequently leak through the steam holes and will likely create watermarks on your clothes and ironing board.

When to use Iron Distilled Water

Distilled water prevents hard water from building up in your iron, hard water is the water that contains a high concentration of minerals, for example, magnesium carbonates, calcium, bicarbonates, and sulfates. As time progresses, these mineral deposits will become limescale and start to clog up the inside of your steam iron.

It is pretty easy to identify whether or not the area you reside in has hard water or not. Firstly, check your kettle for limescale, if there are white substances stuck to the base or the heating elements then you have a limescale issue and will most likely live in a hard water area, and you can also check other appliances that take water to see whether any limescale has developed on them too. Even if you live in what might be considered a soft water area, you might still need to mix tap water with filtered water.

Large quantities of salt can also cause metal parts of your iron to rust, this will age your iron and in addition to that, cause your iron water to turn brown due to rust deposits. This water is no good and can even cause undesirable stains on your clothing too, once the rust has settled in your iron it will come out of your steam vents and there is almost nothing you can do apart from replacing the iron with a new one.

If you live in an area that borders or is extremely close to the sea, the salt content in your water is likely to be pretty high, and you should therefore use either filtered water, spring water, or bottled water in your iron.


When it comes to your steam generator iron, careful consideration and research should be implemented before you make any decisions. It is important to read the user manual carefully and make sure that your iron requires either distilled water, filtered water, bottled water, or tap water, or even a combination of these (50%/50% is always a good idea).

Some of the older iron designs are made to literally only use distilled water alone, whereas most of the latest irons are manufactured to accommodate the convenience and cost-efficiency of using tap water.

Finding the right iron for you and your ironing requirements is the most important thing, and the longevity of your iron is dependant on what you put in it. So, making sure that you have all the equipment and the right water for your iron will ensure that your iron lasts a long time and performs well.