How to clean hair straighteners: easy tips to keep your tools in tip-top shape

Ensure box-fresh results time and again by learning how to clean hair straighteners with our easy-to-follow tips.

how to clean hair straighteners
(Image credit: Getty)

There's no argument about how having a good cleansing routine, from makeup to brushes, is a beauty must, but do you know how to clean your electronic hair tools, or even why you should bother to clean hair straighteners at all? 

For many of us, hot irons fall through the cracks, which could be a major mistake— especially if we’ve spent time and money investing in them (because, let’s be honest, they’re not exactly cheap).

Even the best hair straighteners need a bit of TLC to keep them in tip-top condition, and here's why: Not only will this help them work better, but it could be better for the condition of our strands in the long run too. 

Why is it important to clean them? Straighteners can be magnets for product build-up (think: hair gel, mousse, all our other hair lotions and potions), skin cells, natural oils, grime, dust, dirt, and bacteria. When all this accumulates, it spells bad news for the plates—all this residue can prevent plates from gliding through hair smoothly, resulting in a greater likelihood of snags, hot spots, and heat damage, by having to repeatedly go back over the same section of hair for a smooth result.

How often should I clean my flat irons?

One of the first things to note when learning how to clean hair straighteners is frequency. “I would recommend cleaning them about every third time you straighten your hair,” says Paul Edmonds, award-winning hair stylist and founder of Paul Edmonds London. This will prevent build-up from getting overly ingrained in the plates, which can be trickier to remove. 

How should I clean my flat irons?

If you've been weighing up the Dyson Corrale vs GHD Platinum straighteners or invested in the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0, you'll want your investment to pay off and your tools to last you years to come. That's why the golden rule to how to clean hair straighteners is to be as gentle as possible; scrubbing and using abrasive cleansers on plates could end up scratching and damaging them. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting rid of residue without causing damage:

  • Always ensure that the straighteners are unplugged and have cooled down completely. Lay them down on a heat-resistant surface or cooling mat after use.
  • Wet a soft cloth with lukewarm water and squeeze out the excess. Note: Never submerge your straighteners in water!
  • Use the cloth to gently rub over the surface of the plates. Patience is key. If needed, Paul recommends using a very small amount of shampoo and wiping it off with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Allow the hair straighteners to completely dry before using them.
  • Is the residue proving particularly stubborn to remove? “If there is a lot of product build-up, it’s best to use rubbing alcohol,” says Paul. “Put a small amount onto a piece of cotton and rub it on the plates and around the edges, as this is where it tends to build up the most. Then wipe over them again with a clean, damp (not wet!) cloth and leave to fully dry before using again.” He also advises against using baby wipes, as they can often leave an oily film behind. Good luck!

woman&home thanks Paul Edmonds for his time and expertise.

Ayesha Muttucumaru

Ayesha is a freelance beauty writer and when she's not contributing to woman&home she can be found writing about all things cosmetics, hair and self-care in her role as Senior Features Writer for Get The Gloss. She also writes a monthly hair column called ‘Who, What, Hair’ (which combines her love of puns and buns perfectly), in addition to a column exploring the new and exciting options now available for women of darker skin tones called ‘Not Fair’. She’s also been shortlisted for a number of awards including Best Online Beauty Journalist at the Johnson and Johnson Journalism Awards.