How To Clean A Flat Iron: 4 Easy DIY Methods + Maintenance Tips

You probably were not aware that these tools need to be cleaned thoroughly.

Reviewed by Joanne Fortune, Licensed Cosmetologist & Hairstylist Joanne Fortune Joanne FortuneLicensed Cosmetologist & Hairstylist facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc Annie Jangam MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on

Straighteners are crucial to achieving that perfect sleek straight hair. In such a case, you need to learn how to properly clean a flat iron, especially if you use it extensively. After all, a flat iron gets dirty with regular use. Hair appliances like flat iron, roller, and curling iron, may gather residue, especially if you use thermal protectors and styling products like gels, mousses, or serums. Improper care can reduce the straightener’s lifespan. Maintaining clean hair accessories is essential to a good hair care routine. This article discusses simple and effective ways to clean your flat iron. Keep reading.

Why Should You Clean Your Flat Iron?

According to a survey that gathered worldwide responses from 11,132 participants that aimed to capture insights on using hair styling tools across different regions globally. The data revealed that approximately 40% of women worldwide reported utilizing a hair straightener/flat iron. It also showed that it marked a 5% increase from the data collected in 2015 which was 35%.

Flat irons gather dirt, grime, and product residue from heat protectants and hair styling products. So, it is essential to clean your hair tools regularly to remove all the accumulated build-up. This build-up can damage the plates over time and reduce their ability to heat up properly, thus reducing the efficiency of the tool. You can also end up with limp, greasy hair, or scalp build-up.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Using a dirty flat iron may damage your hair indirectly through longer exposure to heat.

So, it is absolutely essential that you clean your heat-styling tools regularly. Keep reading to find out how to clean your flat iron properly.

How To Clean A Flat Iron

There are multiple ways to clean a flat straightening iron using cleaning agents that you may already have at home. Scroll down to check them out!

Caution: Make sure your flat iron is switched off and unplugged before you start cleaning it.

1. How To Clean A Flat Iron With Alcohol

How To Clean A Flat Iron With Alcohol
You Will Need
  • A soft cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol


  1. Spray rubbing alcohol on the plates of the flat iron.
  2. Wait for 2-5 minutes for the product residue to melt and break down.
  3. Gently wipe the plates with a soft, damp cloth to remove all the build-up.
  4. Let it dry. Use as usual.

Note: Avoid using alcohol when the flat iron is hot or plugged in.

Linzi, a vlogger, shares her tip for cleaning a straightener with alcohol. When using the cotton ball, she advises, “Rub gently, and it will come clean, and on the backside, there’s just buildup. You do want to take that off because then your hair will glide a lot easier when you’re trying to curl and will be fairly clean (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
To deep clean your flat iron, heat it up to the lowest setting till it has warmed up. Unplug and wait for a few seconds before wiping the plates down with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol. Give it another wipe-down with a clean towel after the alcohol has dried up.

2. How To Clean A Flat Iron With Nail Polish Remover

How To Clean A Flat Iron With Nail Polish Remover
You Will Need
  • Nail polish remover
  • A cotton pad
  • A soft cloth


  1. Soak the cotton pad with nail polish remover.
  2. Wipe the plates of the flat iron with the cotton pad.
  3. Wait for 2-5 minutes for the product residue to break down.
  4. Gently wipe the plates of the flat iron with a soft, damp cloth to remove all the dirt and grime.
  5. Let the flat iron dry for some time before using it again.

3. How To Clean A Flat Iron With Relaxer Cream

How To Clean A Flat Iron With Relaxer Cream
You Will Need


  1. Use the damp cloth to wipe off all the product residue and dirt from the flat iron.
  2. Apply a thin layer of relaxer cream on the plates of the flat iron.
  3. Use the damp cloth to remove the cream after 3-5 minutes.

4. How To Clean A Flat Iron Using A DIY Method

How To Clean A Flat Iron Using A DIY Method
You Will Need
  • An old toothbrush
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • A damp cloth


  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with just enough vinegar to make a thick paste.
  2. Apply this paste on the plates of the hair straightener.
  3. Wait for 2-5 minutes for the dirt and build-up to loosen.
  4. Gently scrub the build-up using an old toothbrush.
  5. Wipe the plates down with a damp cloth.
  6. Let the flat iron dry and use it as usual.

The best way to ensure you don’t accumulate product build-up on the flat iron is to clean it regularly. Find out how in the section below.

Best Way To Clean A Flat Iron: Daily Maintenance

Cleaning a flat iron with water and a cotton pad
Image: Shutterstock

The simplest and most hassle-free way to clean your hair straightener regularly is to use a soft, damp cloth to wipe off the excess residue.

You Will Need

  • Drinking water (make sure that it is not hard water as this can cause additional build-up on the flat iron)
  • A soft cloth
  • A cotton pad


  1. Heat up your flat iron at the lowest setting.
  2. Switch it off and unplug it.
  3. Use a damp cloth to wipe off all the product residue and dirt.
  4. Wipe the plates down with a cotton pad to remove any trace of dirt or moisture.

Pro-tip: Use Q-tips to clean those hard-to-reach edges.

Wondering how often to clean your hair straighteners? Keep reading to find out!

When Should You Clean Your Flat Iron?

You should clean your flat iron when:

  • You notice any product residue on the plates.
  • The iron starts taking longer to heat up.
  • Your hair starts looking dull, limp, or greasy right after straightening it.
  • You start experiencing itching and product build-up on your scalp.
  • A burning smell starts emanating from the plates due to the melting of the product build-up.

You can clean your flat iron daily with a damp cloth or simply wipe the plates down once a week with a wet wipe. However, it is best to deep clean it once a month for the best results.

Infographic: Tips For Cleaning A Flat Iron Properly

Cleaning your flat iron regularly gives good results every time you use it. While there are several ways to clean it, you should be careful while doing so as the smallest mistake can damage the device. Scroll down and check out the infographic for some simple tips on cleaning your flat iron properly.

tips for cleaning a flat iron properly (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

If you use flat iron extensively, there are high chances of product build-up on its surface. Knowing how to clean a flat iron increases the span of the straightener and helps in getting perfect hair without leaving any residue on the hair. You can clean your flat iron with nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, relaxer cream, or baking soda and vinegar paste. You can also clean it with a damp cloth regularly. You should clean the straightener when you see a product build-up or if the plates are taking too long to get heated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my hair smell burnt when I flat iron it?

Your hair might smell burnt while using a flat iron because of product residue that is getting burnt. Or it could be because of hair damage due to heat. Heat is bad for hair. Therefore, be careful with the temperature – start with the lowest possible temperature.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to clean my flat iron?

Yes. A mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is used as a homemade solution to clean flat irons.

Can you remove rust from flat iron?

Yes. You may use vinegar to remove rust and water stains from flat irons. Use cotton swabs to dab the vinegar on the rust to break it down, and gently scrub with steel wool to remove residual stains. However, be careful not to use too much vinegar that could seep into the iron’s electric parts and ruin it.

Key Takeaways

  • Flat irons need to be cleaned regularly as the build-up of hair products on them can damage the plates and reduce their efficiency.
  • You can clean a flat iron with alcohol, nail polish remover, relaxer cream, or vinegar.
  • Clean your flat irons once a week if you use them frequently, or deep clean them once a month.

Learn how to clean your flat iron in a matter of minutes. Follow this easy and quick video tutorial to keep your flat iron looking like new.

Personal Experience: Source

Joanne Fortune
Joanne FortuneLicensed Cosmetologist & Hairstylist
Joanne Fortune has been in the beauty industry for 11 years. She studied Cosmetology at Bellus Academy right after graduating high school and obtained a California cosmetology license thereafter. She started off with working in a salon setting for a few years only to realize that it was not for her.

Read full bio of Joanne Fortune
Annie Jangam
Annie JangamBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Annie Jangam is a researcher-turned-content writer with 11 years of experience. She enjoys dissecting complex clinical studies and shuffling through the scientific jargon to make science interesting and easy to understand.

Read full bio of Annie Jangam
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Swathi E
Swathi ESenior Beauty & Lifestyle Writer
Swathi has a postgraduate degree in English literature from The English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and over three years of experience in writing on beauty, health, and lifestyle. She also has a diploma in English journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Kottayam, and is a certified skincare coach.

Read full bio of Swathi E