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How To Clean Your Flat Iron So It Looks Like New

Clean Flat Iron

Once again I am subjecting myself to humiliation for the sake of homemaking science by showing you another nasty appliance in my house. This time it’s my flat iron. Why is it so gross you ask?  Well, let me tell you. I suffer from a serious condition called “poufy bangs” – combined with a wicked cowlick. Unless I straighten them everyday…(sometimes twice a day)…they just look ridiculous.

Problem is…I also use a fair amount of  HAIRSPRAY on them and when I use the flat iron on my hairsprayed hair…this is what ends up happening.
A serious case of “gunk build-up”. The things we do for vanity. :-)

In the past I would wait until it got REALLY, REALLY bad and then throw it away and get a new one….because I couldn’t find anything that would take it off. One day I was whining about my flat iron follies to my friend Danielle and she suggested I use the edge of a pair of scissors to scrape the gunk off. Afterall, the straightener is made out of CERAMIC. It actually worked quite well and didn’t do TOO much damage to the iron. The slight scarring it did was worth it though, because I didn’t have to buy a new one!  An expensive proposition.

Clean Flat Iron

As you can see from the pictures…the “gunk build-up” was approaching a serious level of gross and I was about to attack it with the scissors again when I decided to give my “miracle cleaner” a try.

Clean Flat Iron

Turns out this was hardly even a challenge for the “miracle cleaner”. :-)  I made my usual paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and started rubbing it in with my fingers.  It immediately took all but the thickest parts of gunk off with hardly any effort at all.

This is what it looked like “AFTER”.

Clean Flat Iron

The main difference cleaning this small appliance vs. other things I’ve cleaned with the “miracle cleaner” was making sure I didn’t get any cleaner or water inside the iron that would mess up the electrical stuff.

So I was careful to keep the cleaning mixture just on the plates themselves and then I used a wet rag to wipe it all off when I was done instead of rinsing it.  It’s still working like a champ at taming my unruly poufy bangs, so I must have done OK.

My flat iron looks and feels like new!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • This is a great day! I’m definitely going to try it! Gotta keep that flat iron working at tip top shape! I wouldn’t be able to leave the house without it!! :)

  • I can’t believe it works so fast it is a lot faster then Rubbing Alcohol with a cotton ball. I didn’t have to use hardly in scrubbing at all. I will use this from now on! Thank you, Sandi

  • Alcohol has worked for me in the past if it was just hairspray on my curling iron. But I love, love, love Kenra’s #19 styling spray when I curl my hair with my curling iron…especially after washing and drying hair. It holds the curl and does not go limp. However, this product is not as easily removed as just hairspray. In fact, it was very difficult unless I used a product called Dissolve that I found at a beauty supply store. Cheap and worked well. Then I ran into a problem of finding this cleaner. All I had to do was stop in at a beauty shop and asked what they did to clean their curling irons. I hit pay dirt here! SOS Brillo pad, dampened. One pad lasts for a very long time. I just lightly dampen a portion of the pad and it removes the most burnt on crud on my iron with very little effort. Been doing this for quite some time now and no scratches on my iron either. p.s. Now that I said all this, I’m going to try Jillee’s recipe as she has given us so many fantastic DIYs. Thanks Jillee!!

  • I’m glad to see this works on curling irons. I haven’t used one in ages. My hair is naturally very thick and coarse and just didn’t have the patience with my stick straight hair. I can totally relate with Jillee on the bangs issue. Took forever to curl and sometimes still looked funny because of that darn cowlick. Finally grew them out and solved that problem. I’ll have to show this post to my sisters , two of them have straight with a slight wave and they still insist on straightening their hair. Since I’ve gotten perms that last at least a year I can just blow dry my hair and scrunch.

  • Jillee, I use a cotton pad soaked in rubbing isopropyl alcohol on my curling iron barrel and it cuts right through the gunk. Since it dries so quickly there’s no danger of damaging the electrical element.

  • This mixture (with a little extra hydrogen peroxide) works wonders to clean food burned onto pans. I just put it in the pan and let it sit over night. Next morning…swish and clean pan. Thanks Jill.

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  • Thanks for this! I let my flat iron get really super bad (I think it’s a snowball effect… once it starts building up, then it happens quickly), and I saw a lot of progress with the baking soda/ hydrogen peroxide mix. I then used an almost toast magic eraser (seriously, I just discovered those things and I’m SOLD) to get the rest of the gunk off. Whew, what a relief! And I hope I never wait so long to clean it again! My flat iron and hair thank you. =)

  • […] hydrogen peroxide method would work because I’ve used it with success before on MANY things! (How To Clean Your Flat Iron; New Life For Old Cookie Sheets; My Kitchen “Miracle” […]

  • This happens to me ALL the time. The best and easiest thing to use to clean off the build up is alcohol wipes! Theyre cheap, dont drip into the electrical and you dont have to scrub for hours :) just wipe each plate and its back to new!

  • Another way is to heat up the straightener, then wipe off the goo with baby wipes or rubbing alcohol wipes. No mess and takes less then 5 minutes!

  • […] at first because they were so small, but after I read about how to clean your hair straightener on One Good Thing by Jillee I realized it was time to […]

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  • Rubbing ANYTHING on my straightner seemed like the biggest waste of time
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  • I’ve used hand sanitizer with a paper towel on a warm(not hot) iron and that worked fine for me. The alcohol dries quickly so you don’t have to worry so much about damaging wiring.

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  • I am sooooooooooo trying this I have done the alcohol with no avail, and have tried nail polish remover didn’t work either……So I will keep trying different things till something works. Thank You for sharing with us!!!

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  • I was just about to try your baking soda method but I did not have the materials already. As I was reading through the comments, I found a tip to use a steel wool pad and some alcohol. I didn’t have alcohol either but the steel wool pad worked amazingly. Even with gentle strokes, the caked on gunk came right off and left damage to my ceramic tourmaline T3. My gunk has been on there for at least a year because that’s when I stopped using it. It was a heavy build-up and I tried to use Dissolve Styling Iron cleaner but it didn’t work at all. If I ever need to I’ll the baking soda method a try but I am extremely happy with the steel wool method. (I didn’t use any liquids until after removal to get rid of the dust from the steel wool pad.)

  • […] tried with it hasn’t worked. (like when I tried to clean my cookie sheets: fail) Anyway THIS is where I got the idea […]

  • Spray Windex on your irons and leave it for a couple of minutes. Everything will wipe right off with no effort at all. I’m a stylist and my irons have been through it all. Works like a charm everytime ;-)

  • Hey! My hairdresser told me that they just run their hot irons down a warm towel. You can do that maybe between cleanings to help reduce the build up :)

  • This didn’t work for me. :( I then tried the nail polish remover, and I do NOT suggest that. I think it damaged my Chi. It turned the plate I used it on a different color and seems like it was rubbing the ceramic or something off. I then tried alcohol and had a bit more luck, but still didn’t get all the build up off.

    Good thing is, I didn’t let the baking soda/peroxide mix go to waste. I brushed my teeth with the remaining. It makes a great teeth whitener. :)

  • I have been using the same Chi, for a little over 2 years and I have never had any “Gunk” on my straightener. Though I do have a different hair styler I use and I will try the dryer sheet trick.

  • Thanks for all these wonderful tips. I have a flat iron that has build up and have been trying to figure out how to get it cleaned. I have used the wet wash cloth and the baby wipe, but still ended up with build up! Cant wait to go and try these tips now. Thanks!

  • The easiest way I have found to clean my flat iron was to pour a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cloth and wipe everything clean- handle, plates, cord all of it!! Give it a try. No elbow grease required ;)

  • […] certain level of cleanliness that I guess I thought was pretty universal. You need to click to see this girl’s hair flat iron. She claims how she needs to use a lot of hairspray to get her hair right, and that creates a gunk […]

  • Hey Jill – I had some leftover peroxide/baking soda solution after trying this on my flat iron. I put the solution in the sink with warm water and dropped in my hair product-covered round brush and comb and gunk floated to the top of the water almost immediately. I’ve never seen that brush clean up so quickly and easily. Thanks for the “miracle cleaner.” :)

  • I have always just heated up my iron…then when hot, I unplug it, then I carefully put a wet washcloth between the two sides hold it a few seconds then rub the irons down with it and the gunk comes off. No cost, just an old wash cloth and water.

  • The best way I have found to clean hair spray build up from my curling iron is oven cleaner. Just spray on, let sit for awhile, and the gunk wipes right off like magic! Haven’t tried it on a flat iron, but I suppose it would work the same.

  • I have a chi flat iron that also contained build up and I tried rubbing alcohol with a cotton ball which didn’t work so I was desperate and used a brillo pad cleaning lightly and it worked removing all the build up and leaving no scratches on the plates just a tip!

  • I just use a bounce sheet… I heat the iron and just pull the sheet back and forth.. no scrubbing uless it is really bad.. works for you clothes iron too.

  • I’m a stylist and all my appliances, including my flat iron, get a ton of gunk build up. The best, and least harmful, way to clean a flat iron is to use a soft steel wool and some alcohol. It won’t leave any scaring and all of the gunk will come off. :)

  • My flat iron look the same, scissor nicks and all! I ran across your blog from pintrest.
    Heading to the store after work to pick up some “supplies”. I think I have found 101 uses for baking soda and vinager!

  • Also, it isn’t advised to use a sharp straight edge on the ceramic because it can scrape it!! like you said. I though using a razor blade (think: used for cleaning ceramic cook top0 but after I realized it was taking off finish I stopped doing that.

  • I used rubbing alcohol to get my gunk off, it worked wonderfully. Mine wasn’t nearly as caked on as that because I rarely use it, but it was still disturbingly dirty to a clean freak. :)

  • I just use a tissue when the iron is warm, and everything comes right off. I have never used any cleaning products and my iron comes out spotless every time.

  • as soon as I start to get this on the edges, I turn my flat iron on and immediately use a baby wipe to get it off. just be careful you don't burn yourself. the heat helps to soften the 'gunk.'

  • I am an educator for farouk systems the company that makes chi and its a wonderful iron but just to add to the cleanliness of the iron if you use the chi products u will rarely have the gross hair spray build up .
    thanks for sharing

  • I've used magic erasers in the past and they've worked great, but we usually don't keep them around unless it's spring cleaning time…These are all great tips for when I desperately need to clean my flat iron and can't run to the store, and so much more cost-effective! Thanks so much for sharing!:)

  • What happened to,..if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all?? JS,..neway thanks for all the tips,..I will try each one and see which works best for me. Thank you and God Bless

  • Chi? not Chi? Who really cares? The fact she was trying to get across what NOT the brand of flat iron but the fact she found a way to GET RID OF THE BUILD UP!

  • I NEVER would have tried dryer sheets until I read a post from above. I have used the peroxide & baking soda but its messy. I ran the dryer sheet through my flat iron once & IMMEDIATELY it was spotless!! Sticking to that trick from now on! Thank you!

  • If you ever need a new straightener the Vibe works AMAZING!!!! It nice too because it does as the same implies and vibrates so it gets the hair evenly over the flat irons.

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