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How to clean flat iron hair straighteners

If you use a flat iron to straighten or smooth your hair and you’ve noticed it’s not working like it used to, that may mean it needs a good cleaning. It’s important to understand how to clean flat iron hair straightener.

Clean flat iron hair straightener on table

Hair products such as conditioners and styling products can cake up on the plates and reduce their effectiveness. This can block some of the heat of the iron from reaching your hair.

If you find yourself going over and over the same part of your hair, chances are your flat iron needs a cleaning.

Dirt and product buildup can also cause the flat iron to damage your hair. The baked-on products turn into crusts that grab onto your strands as you try to pull the iron smoothly through.

If you’ve ever noticed your flat iron isn’t pulling as smoothly as it used to, check it for dirt. And even if you can’t see any dirt, give it a cleaning and see if that helps.

How to Clean Flat Iron Hair Straighteners

Closeup of grime on a flat iron hair straightener

In the above picture, most of the dirt you can see is my foundation and face makeup. But it’s the invisible building from product that’s probably causing the most trouble.

Fortunately, cleaning your flat iron and restoring its original effectiveness is easy. It doesn’t matter whether your iron’s plates are made of ceramic, tourmaline or whatever – these tips tell you how to clean a flat iron, no matter what it’s made of.

Any material that works as a hot surface for straightening hair can be cleaned with the following method.

1. Turn off and unplug the flat iron immediately after use. Put it on a heat-resistant surface – I have a glass counter saver on top of the dresser in my bedroom for hot tools. Let it cool down until it’s still slightly warm, but definitely comfortable to touch.

2. Dampen a textured cloth such as a dish towel or washcloth with water.

3. Gently run the damp cloth over the plates, especially where you can see grime. Don’t press or scrub – just keep running the cloth over the grime gently until it comes off.

4. You can use other parts of the cloth to clean the rest of the wand. Plastic areas can be scrubbed if needed.

5. If there are any tight spots with grime in them, a damp cotton swab can be used to get in there and clean it out.

6. Be sure you let the iron dry thoroughly before you use it again.

Closeup of clean flat iron hair straightener plates

If water isn’t working, you can use alcohol to remove the baked-on grime. Some people will tell you that you must use a product marketed for cleaning hair styling tools, but the main ingredient in those products is simple alcohol, which is all you really need.

You may also want to learn how to clean a hair dryer, to keep that tool working at maximum efficiency, too.

Related: How to Make Leave-in Conditioner

How often?

How often you’ll need to clean your tools depends on the styling products you use and how much time you spend straightening your hair. If you have thick curly hair and have to go over every strand of it several times every day, you will probably need to clean your iron 3-4 times a week.

If you’re just straightening a few areas, once a week might be plenty. You just have to watch your tools and notice when they’re either not working as well or you can actually see build-up forming.

If you notice that it takes about 3 days to start getting like that, I would suggest cleaning it every other day to prevent it not working so well on the third day. If it takes ten days, then cleaning every nine days (or once a week, if that’s easier to remember) should keep your iron in great shape.

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