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How To Clean a Flat Iron (With FAQ Included)

Is your hair straightener starting to get a little dirty? An unclean flat iron can end up making it difficult for you with styling your hair.

 If you need to get rid of the residue on your device or need a helpful lifeline to help you quickly clean it, this article will help you. It will inform you of the best ways of how to clean a flat iron.

What You Need Before You Start

There are a few important items that you’ll need before you attempt to clean one of these products. Besides your flat iron, you’ll also need to make sure you have:

A Clean Cloth

A clean cloth will help you to remove buildup and stains on the flat iron plates. Make sure the cloth is completely clean though or you’ll just be rubbing the buildup around on your iron.

Warm Water

Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. A damp warm cloth will help to make sure that your iron is cleaned properly and without ruining the coating on the plates.

Cotton Swabs and/or Q-Tips

You need these in order to give your styling iron a fine clean. These will help to get into the crevices of the device so it can be cleaned more thoroughly.

Rubbing Alcohol

This will help to sanitize your hair straightener from any residue that might be on it.


A toothbrush is handy as it will help you scrub the plates of your styling iron but without harming their finish. The bristles are also extremely small which helps to get into small crevices that the flat iron has.

Cleaning Methods

Do a Quick Clean First

It’s best to do a general cleaning first. This will help to remove some of the residue on the iron so you can clean it better when it comes time for the deep clean. Here are the steps for doing a quick cleaning.

Plug in Your Flat Iron, Let it Warm Up, and Then Turn it Off

The first thing you need to do is plug in your device. You want to turn its heat setting on to a very low temperature. Once it starts to heat up a little (make sure it isn’t too hot) turn it off and unplug it. The heat is meant to help breakup up some of the residue so it’s easier for you to clean the iron. Be sure to always unplug the flat iron before using it or it could otherwise end up creating a dangerous situation.

Read AlsoHow to Flat Iron Hair

Rub the Damp Cloth on the Plates

The last step with doing a general clean is to take the damp cloth with warm water and wipe it over the iron.

However, it’s very important before you do so to check the heat of the flat iron. If it’s still not cool to your touch, then don’t start to clean it. Wait until you can actually touch it without burning yourself.

Once it has cooled down you can take the cloth and wipe it over the various parts of the iron. You can use this on both the plates and exterior housing to help give it a quick clean.

Do a Deep Cleaning

After you do your quick first clean, you’ll want to give your flat iron a deep cleaning. Here are the steps for that.  

Put Some Rubbing Alcohol on a Q-Tip or Cotton Ball

After putting some of the rubbing alcohol on one of these things, you can then start to rub it on your styling iron to clean it. A cotton ball is good to use on larger surfaces (such as the plates and exterior housing) while a Q-tip will work better to remove buildup and stains in the crevices around the plates and housing.

Be sure that your flat iron is completely cooled off though before rubbing the alcohol on it or it could end up catching on fire.

Once you rub alcohol over your styling iron, use a cloth to wipe it off. Make sure to wipe it off entirely to prevent the alcohol from coating the plates which could end up getting on your hair if not completely wiped off.

Use a Toothbrush to Give One Last Fine Clean

A toothbrush is a handy tool to help get into crevices on your flat iron that might otherwise be difficult to get into. A toothbrush’s bristles will get into even deeper crevices than a Q-Tip or cotton ball.

This will help to remove any buildup and stains on your device. The bristles are also very soft so they won’t scratch or ruin the finish of the plates. This is especially good for ceramic plates which can be especially sensitive to cleaning utensils.


How Can I Tell When I Need to Clean my Flat Iron?

There’s one simple way you can tell when you need to clean it: a burning scent. If you start to smell burning as you let it heat up or while using it, it’s best to give your iron a clean.

While you should clean your device often, if you smell this burning scent you need to make sure to definitely clean it soon. Check our list of best flat irons for natural hair.

Can I Use Something Other Than Rubbing Alcohol to Clean With?

Yes, you can. There are special flat iron professional cleaning solutions available for you to use, but rubbing alcohol is often much less expensive and can work better at sanitizing your styling iron. However, it’s important to not overdo any chemicals while cleaning your product. Chemicals are not only not ideal to use in your hair, but can actually ruin the flat iron’s plates, especially if they’re ceramic plates. Rubbing alcohol is very mild compared to them which is why it’s often best to use to clean.

How Often Should I Deep Clean My Flat Iron?

It’s important to do deep cleans, but you shouldn’t overdo them. Unlike the quick cleaning method, deep cleaning involves more cleaning solutions you need to use which, if used too much, can end up causing damage to your flat iron. You should do a deep cleaning every now and then to keep your iron clean.

However, it’s a good idea to give your styling iron a general clean often. This can help to prevent you from having to constantly do deep cleans. It can also actually end up helping the iron style and straighten your hair better.

Can I Soak it in Water to clean it?

No, you can’t. Soaking your device in water will only ruin it. It can also create a very dangerous situation if it’s plugged in near water as well. It’s best to keep it away from water while it’s on to prevent electrical shocks from occurring. This is why it’s important to wait for it to cool down a little (after unplugging it) to make sure a deadly situation doesn’t occur while you clean it.


Cleaning your flat iron is something everyone who owns one should do. These devices can surprisingly end up getting very dirty. This could eventually end up having it cause damage to your hair instead of helping it due to all the residue on it.

Cleaning one of these products isn’t hard at all and will take only a few minutes of your time. The steps above will help to make cleaning it a much quicker and easier process.

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