Yeah, You Actually Should Be Cleaning Your Flat Iron. Here's How

Flat irons are helpful tools to give your hair a straight and smooth appearance. They've been used for ages, but you must know how to properly use a straightener to prevent hair damage. While it's best for your hair if you use hot tools sparingly, not everyone wants to do that. Instead, make sure you're not using them too much, and always follow these steps when you do.


Applying a heat protectant is the most important step when using a flat iron. This will create a seal over your hair, so it doesn't get damaged from high temperatures while pressing it through the straightener. L'Oréal Paris also recommends refraining from using this tool on wet or damp hair, because your hair is at its most fragile when wet. If you're straightening your hair right after a shower, run a blow dryer over it before using your flat iron. It may add another step, but preventing fried ends is worth the additional time it takes to style your hair. But in addition to prepping your hair correctly, you should also be regularly cleaning your flat iron. 

Why do you need to clean your flat iron?

Have you ever cleaned your flat iron? If not, you may need to take a closer look at how dirty the plates actually are. All hot tools, including hairdryers and curlers, need to be routinely cleaned. They collect products, oils, and buildup from your hair every time you use them. Then if you don't clean them, that same gunk is returning to your head. Express explains that flat irons are made of ceramic plates perfect for harboring bacteria. Not only is this bad for your hair and scalp's health, but it can damage your straightener.


As you straighten your hair, the oil from your scalp and any products you've applied can transfer to your flat iron. When you don't remember to clean your flat iron, the grime left on the plates slowly damages them. You may begin to notice that it takes longer than usual to heat up until one day it stops getting hot enough to work. A straight iron usually has two to three years before you have to replace it, according to You Magazine. However, it can last even less if you're not cleaning it.

How to deep clean your flat iron

If you've never cleaned your hot tool before, you will probably need to deep clean it with more than just water. The first step is making sure that you've unplugged your straightener and allowed it to cool down completely. Then, depending on what you have available in your home, you can use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover, according to Pure Wow. Soak some cotton balls in your choice of cleanser and wipe the plates of your flat iron.


If you have a lot of buildup to cut through, you can use a toothbrush to scrub it off gently. It's also helpful to get between the plates and the plastic frame of your flat iron. Once it looks clean, use a cloth to wipe down the whole straightener. This method is good for deep cleaning, but there's a simpler way to do touchups when you notice it getting dirty.

Maintain your straightener with touchups as needed

Flat irons should be cleaned about once a week, but if you don't use them often, you can stretch to one wash every month. Maintaining your flat iron with weekly cleanings makes the entire process easier than waiting until it's ruining your hair every time you use it. If you notice your straightener smells burnt and takes a long time to heat up, you probably waited too long to wipe the buildup off. Your scalp can even start itching, and your hair may look dull and greasy if you forget to clean it. Quick maintenance only involves three items. First, you'll need bottled water. Style Craze recommends avoiding hard tap water because it can leave more buildup on the plates.


After you've used your flat iron, unplug it and let it begin to cool off. When it's slightly warm, but not hot, soak a cloth in water. Simply wipe down the plates. Once you're done, dry them with a fresh cloth or cotton rounds. If you're struggling to get in any crevices, you can use cotton swabs instead.