Follow these simple steps for how to clean a flat iron to get your hair straightener sparkly clean in just a few minutes. This is definitely an often overlooked task, but well worth your time!
There was a pretty funny reason that I even put any thought at all into how to clean a flat iron recently, but I’m so glad I did. There’s actually a little (non-hair-styling-related) flat iron trick that I want to share with you soon, but before I could do that, I definitely had to clean that thing! When I went to test this little trick out, I took one look at my flat iron and realized that no clever home keeping tips would be happening with it at any point in the near future until I gave it a good cleaning. It definitely wasn’t the worst that I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t ideal. Let’s just put it that way. 🙂
It’s a good idea, of course, to clean your flat iron on a regular basis so that you aren’t using your dirty flat iron on clean hair, thus making the clean hair dirty in the process. If you’re like me and you don’t use a ton of stuff in your hair though, you might just assume that your flat iron is staying mostly clean because you can’t see all kinds of buildup and gunk on it. Once you give it a little cleaning though, you’ll realize what a difference this little task makes and you’ll understand why it’s a good idea to take the 87.2 seconds out of your life every once in awhile to clean it.
How to Clean a Flat Iron
The first thing you’ll need to do is plug your flat iron in and let it warm up. Mine only takes 20 seconds to heat up, but if yours takes a bit longer, you can go find something else to do until it’s hot. Next, unplug it and let it cool down for a minute or two, so it’s not too ridiculously hot.
Once your flat iron is a little less hot, take a soft, damp cloth and gently rub the plates of the flat iron and all around the handles, top, bottoms, and sides of the flat iron. The steam created from the heat and the water on the damp cloth should release a lot of the buildup really easily. IMPORTANT: Make sure that your flat iron really is unplugged for this step. Mixing water and plugged-in electrical devices is not a good idea!
How to Clean a Flat Iron: Removing Hair Products and Oil Buildup
Next, take a smooth cotton pad and pour a little bit of rubbing alcohol on it. Use this to wipe the plates of your flat iron and all around once again.
Try to get into the crevices where the plates meet the handles because that’s where a lot of build up can hide. Rubbing alcohol is amazing at removing hair product buildup as well as natural oils and other various gunk that can become encrusted on your iron.
ALSO IMPORTANT: Never use rubbing alcohol on a hot flat iron as it is flammable. Your flat iron will be almost fully cool after being wiped down with the wet cloth, but if you’re just doing a quick clean and going straight for the rubbing alcohol, do it on a cold flat iron.
How to Clean a Flat Iron: Extra Measures
If you’re able to give your flat iron a quick clean even semi-regularly, then those last two steps should be enough, but if you really have a lot of buildup you’ll need something mildly abrasive to help your flat iron come clean. Never use a really harsh abrasive like steel wool or a regular scouring pad because you’ll damage the delicate non-stick coating on the plates of your flat iron. A great simple solution is to use a paste of water and baking soda and rub that on a slightly warm flat iron to gently work away any buildup.
An even simpler solution that I just discovered is this: The soft cloth I used to wipe down my flat iron during the “wet cloth stage” was actually the e-cloth Stainless Steel cloth.
It has a very soft side and also a side with these very slightly abrasive stripes with tiny plastic loops running through them. This was the perfect amount of scrubbiness to remove a little extra gunk from my flat iron without any damage at all. Well, without any more damage than you can see that I’ve already done to the sides of my flat iron from years of use. 🙂 E-cloth has a few different cloths with similar gentle “scrubby” sections such as the kitchen cloth that would also work great for this if you don’t have the stainless steel cloth.
I do often work with e-cloth and they’re a regular sponsor of this blog because I use their products daily in my home, but they didn’t sponsor this post. I just realized when I was tackling this job that using this cloth would be much less messy than the baking soda so I had to share. 🙂
One little extra step you can take is to clean the little stand for your flat iron if yours has a stand. It can be kind of tough to get into all of the little spaces between the vent holes on the stand using a cloth and the cotton pads with the alcohol though. A quick way to take care of that is to just toss it in the dishwasher! 🙂
So that’s how to clean a flat iron! Do you have any other clever tricks you use for this job?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.