How to Properly Clean Your Flat Iron

Brunette woman using a flat iron on her hair while looking in the mirror

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-7

For smooth, shiny hair, you need the right hair-styling tools and they need to be clean. A flat iron or a hair straightener uses two flat plates, often made of ceramic, metal, or a combination to sandwich and glide down hair strands to straighten any waves or curls.

If the surface of the plates becomes coated with hair spray, styling gel, or other residue, they won't glide and the flat iron won't produce the results you desire. Learn three ways to properly clean a flat iron.


You can use the same cleaning supplies and instructions to clean a curling iron. While you're focusing on a cleaner beauty routine, take the time to clean hair brushes and other beauty tools such as makeup brushes and beauty blenders.

How Often to Clean a Flat Iron

If you use a flat iron daily, it should be cleaned weekly. Even if you use it only a few days per week, it should be cleaned at least twice a month to remove product buildup (hair conditioners, oils, sprays) that become baked onto the plates. You may be able to see the discoloration from the products and you will feel disruption to a smooth gliding action on your hair. The residue can be transferred back to your hair strands and cause the flat iron to overheat and damage your hair.


Always unplug the iron or any electric hair-styling tool before cleaning. Do not attempt to clean a flat iron until it is cool to the touch. It can be slightly warm but never hot.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 2 microfiber cloths
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 set of measuring spoons


  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • Cotton Balls


3 Ways to Clean a Flat Iron

  1. Clean With a Microfiber Cloth

    • If you want to keep a new flat iron in pristine condition, wipe the plates while they are still slightly warm with a dry microfiber cloth after every use. The gentle abrasive quality of the fibers will remove any styling product residue on the plates.
    • Dampen the microfiber cloth with plain water to remove any residue that remains on the plates once the iron has fully cooled.


    Use a microfiber cloth instead of a cotton washcloth or towel because microfiber is lint-free.

  2. Clean With Isopropyl Alcohol

    • Allow the flat iron to cool completely.
    • Dampen a cotton ball or pad with a small amount of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
    • Wipe the ball over the sticky surfaces. You might need to use several cotton balls to complete the job.
    • Allow the alcohol to work for a few minutes to cut through the residue.
    • Wipe away the alcohol and residue with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.
    • Dry with a clean microfiber cloth.
  3. Clean with a Baking Soda Paste

    If you have neglected your flat iron and the residue is thick and baked on heavily, move to a baking soda paste. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to cut through the buildup.

    • In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of water.
    • Apply the paste to the sticky areas of the flat iron plate with a soft cloth.
    • Scrub gently.
    • Wipe away the residue with a damp microfiber cloth.
    • Repeat until all of the build-up is gone.
    • Dry the flat iron with a clean microfiber cloth.

Tips to Keep Your Flat Iron Clean Longer

  • Reduce the amount of styling products you use in your hair when using a flat iron.
  • Wipe down the plates of the flat iron when it is cool to the touch with a microfiber cloth after every use.
  • Store the flat iron in a clean, dry place when not in use to prevent damage and reduce overspray from other styling products.

When to Replace Your Flat Iron

If none of the cleaning methods remove the residue on the flat iron plates, it is time to replace your flat iron. Residue can snag hair strands and cause damage or breakage. If your flat iron smells off or smokes while heating, it should also be discarded.