For most individuals, hair straighteners are a staple styling tool. It doesn’t only straighten hair, it also gets rid of frizz and flyaways. However, the more you use it, the dirtier it gets. Before you know it, the product build-up is easily visible.
Aside from the fact that it’s icky and unsanitary to stick dirty things to our body, including our precious hair, it also cancels out all your efforts in styling your hair, since all that dirt reduces the effectiveness of the hair straightener, and damages your hair as well.
Ready to give your hair straightener a good cleaning yet? Here’s how you can do it, and why it’s important.
- Why you should clean your hair straightener
- How to clean a hair straightener (and other heat styling tools)
- What you’ll need:
- Other cleaning tips
- Final Thoughts
Why you should clean your hair straightener
Our makeup tools are not the only ones that need regular cleaning. Even our hair straighteners, blow dryers, and curling irons do as well. This isn’t just to maintain appearances, mind you. Cleaning your styling tools helps them maintain their optimal condition and functionality.
What happens when you don’t clean your styling tools? Well, you’ll see a buildup of grime, dirt, and leftover hair care products. All of these affect the hair straighener’s overall quality, and worse, can also damage your hair.
Just think of it this way. Your hair probably isn’t always clean whenever you pick up your flat iron. And even if it is, it’s likely loaded with various hair styling products, such as hair masks, conditioning creams, sprays, serums, and oils, all of which do leave some residue.
Benefits of cleaning your hair straightener
This excessive product buildup will start to cover the surface of the flat iron’s hot plates, which makes it work less efficiently, so cleaning the plates by default makes the straightener work better, or at least, at the level that it used to when you first bought it.
A clean hair straightener also poses less risk of hair damage. The more buildup is on the plates, the less gently it will glide through your hair, which will not only make it more difficult to style, but will also cause snagging and pulling, and even transfer burnt products to your strands.
Besides, heat styling tools are expensive, and you don’t want to waste your investment by letting your tools get dirty and shorten their lifespan, do you?
How often you should clean your hair straightener
Now that we’ve established that you should, in fact, clean your flat irons, the next question should be, how often should you do it?
The answer really depends on a lot of factors, such as how often you use the flat iron, how many products do you put on your hair before styling, how many of these are pastes and sticky sprays, and so on.
If you want to be on the safe side of squeaky clean, once a week is a good deal, but at the most, don’t let your straightener stay dirty for over a month.
How to clean a hair straightener (and other heat styling tools)
Here’s a step by step guide on how to clean a hair straightener, along with other heated styling tools. We’ll start with a couple of dos and don’ts, along with a list of what you will need.
Do’s and don’ts
To ensure a long service life for all your styling tools, practice the following:
- Do wait for any hair care product to completely dry before you begin styling
- Do place the styling tool on a heat resistant mat to let it cool after using
- Do clean your heat styling tools at least once a month
- Don’t pack away the styling tool before it has completely cooled
- Don’t wrap the styling tool’s cord around it as it will damage the wires
What you’ll need:
- A soft towel (such as microfiber cloths)
- Warm water or rubbing alcohol
- A HOT TOOLS Styling Iron Cleaner (optional)
1. Heat the straightener
The first step is to plug in your flat iron and turn it on so it heats up at the lowest heat setting. This is important since the heat helps loosen up product buildup on the iron’s plates, which then makes it easier to wipe off. Simply unplug the straightener once it’s sufficiently warm.
2. Unplug the straightener
Once it’s turned off and unplugged, let the flat iron cool on a hand towel or a heat resistant mat for around five minutes so it’s not hot to the touch. Remember to not set the tool directly on bare surfaces such as bathroom counters and sinks so as not to risk damage.
3. Wipe the plates
Damp your cloth with warm water, or if the product buildup is heavy, with rubbing alcohol. With the wet cloth, gently rub the straightener’s plates to remove the product buildup, paying special attention to the plate’s edges where lots of products can get stuck.
While doing this step, make sure that- one, the plates are not too hot to the touch or you risk burning yourself, two, the flat iron is unplugged or you risk electrocution, and three, you are not scrubbing too hard or you risk damaging the plates.
4. Deep clean and disinfect
If you haven’t cleaned your straightener in a long time, there’s bound to be stubborn leftovers. In any case, it’s always a good idea to disinfect your styling tools. To do this, use rubbing alcohol and a towel to wipe the surface of the plates. Do it gently and take your time.
If the product buildup is particularly stubborn, you can try to start cleaning while the plates are still warm. Just be careful to not burn yourself. You can also use a clean toothbrush, a Magic Eraser, or a flat iron cleaner, and concentrate the cleaning around the tough to clean areas.
5. Optional- apply a relaxer
To further clean your flat iron, if you wish, you can also apply a cream relaxer, which is typically used for chemically straightening curly hair. Simply apply the cream on the clean plates in an even layer, plug the iron in, and let it heat up for around 10 to 15 minutes.
Afterwards, simply unplug the flat iron and let it completely cool before wiping off the relaxer with a damp washcloth.
6. Repeat every month
The most important step is to keep things consistent and remember to clean your styling tools at least once a month to avoid excessive buildup. If you can, do it once a week, or even after each use. Remember, the more you use your flat iron, the faster it will get dirty, and if you let that dirt sit for too long, cleaning will be much harder.
Other cleaning tips
Want to know how to clean your other styling tools (curling wands, blow dryers, and makeup brushes) as well? Here’s a short guide to help you get started:
The key to cleaning curling wands is to start while the barrel is still warm- but not scalding hot. Simply use a wet towel to wipe the entire barrel while being careful so you don’t burn yourself. One thing to remember, though, is to never ever use a scour, unless you want to scrub off the barrel’s special coating.
Blow dryers are actually quite easy to clean, and it’s also quite easy to know when you need to clean it. Just take a peek at the detachable air vent at the dryer’s rear end. If you see any kind of buildup with lots of dirt and fluff, remove the vent and use a toothbrush to gently scrape off the buildup without damaging the mesh.
When it comes to makeup brushes, you’ll find a lot of tutorials online, each with slightly different instructions. But, the basic rule is to:
- Dip the bristles in warm water. Don’t wet the ferrule and handle or the water will weaken the seal that glues the entire thing in place.
- Rub the damp bristles on some antibacterial hand soap. You can also use shampoo and other cleansing products. Additionally, you can use conditioner to soften the bristles, especially if they are made with natural fibers.
- Rinse the bristles with warm water, either by swirling it around a bowl of water, or placing it under running water. Do this until all of the makeup residues come out. If necessary, repeat steps two and three.
Now you know how to clean a hair straightener, and why it’s important to do it. You can add this to your list of the basic rules in using heat styling tools, which should already include using heat protectant sprays before styling, only working with the recommended heat level for your hair type, and so on.
Remember, the cleaner your flat iron is, the better and easier your styling process will be, and when that’s the case, the more gorgeous your hair will look. So, always remember to regularly clean your hair straighteners and other styling tools!