In an effort to economise, I've started doing my own ironing over the past year or so. Nothing too complicated, you understand - the shirts still go to Elias - but I have been getting on OK with polo shirts, underwear and the suchlike. Apart from one thing: a nasty, sticky, blackish-brown residue that attaches itself to the soleplate. I started out with an aluminium type, and that had become gummed up within a few months. I replaced this with an iron that had a ceramic soleplate, thinking its smoother surface would be immune to the gunge, but while the ironing experience itself was much improved, the residue soon started to accumulate, spreading like the Black Death. In search of a solution, I had high hopes when I found a product called Oust iron cleaning pads, which claimed to remove residue from soleplates, but for some reason they won't shift what's been gathering on mine. Before long, I was finding that the soleplate was leaving black marks on any garment with which it came into contact, so a couple of weeks ago I reluctantly took the plunge and bought yet another new iron. And, yes, already its starting to be taken over by the dreaded stuff, and again the cleaning pads won't shift it. I can scrape it off, bit by bit, with a fingernail but, really, life's too short... As far as I can tell, I've been doing everything right. I've only ever used bottled ironing water in them, so no hard tap water (and in any case, the issue isn't limescale); and I use the iron's self-cleaning facility as recommended. I have also been looking online for clues, and can report that a recommended solution involving waxed paper that sounded very promising has again failed to make any impact whatsoever on the gunge. So, three questions to any domestic gods/goddesses on the forum: What causes it? How can I remove it? How do I prevent it from coming back? Any advice greatly appreciated.