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If You're Not Cleaning Your Curling Iron, You've Gotta Read This

clean curling iron
If your curling iron isn’t performing as well as it once did and styling your ringlets leaves your strands with a lingering burnt smell, stop right there! Before plugging your iron in, think about how long it’s been since you last cleaned it. If you can’t remember, chances are good it’s been a while since you’ve given your trusty hot tool a bit of TLC. Product buildup clings to your curling iron and accumulates with every use, which can seriously damage your iron and your mane.

Wondering how to clean your curling iron and, more importantly, why you need to? Detra Smith, Matrix artistic educator, is here to break down everything you need to know. Whether you have dark brown hair or ash blonde strands, you’re going to want to keep scrolling.


Why is it important to clean your hot tools?

Your hot tools are just like makeup brushes. If you don’t wash your brushes clean every so often, the bacteria and product build up can become harmful to your skin. When it comes to dirty hot tools, Smith says, the effects can be just as damaging.

Combining the heat from the tool with product buildup can damage the hair by changing the color and texture...It becomes similar to a thin layer of plastic that prevents the natural curl from springing back and can also cause uneven color application.

How often should you clean your hot tools?

How often you clean your hot tools depends entirely on how often you turn them on and what products you’re using on your hair. As a salon pro who uses tons of styling products on clients daily, Smith sanitizes her tools every day. If you’re not reaching for your curling iron quite as frequently, however, you can clean it once every two to three weeks.

The good news? Smith says a professional-approved cleaning doesn’t require tons of ingredients. All you’ll need is water and a towel.

“While the iron is still warm, I unplug it, wrap a wet towel around it, press and swipe the towel on the surface,” Smith explains. “Many natural and synthetic polymers will wipe off easily while the iron is still warm. Once these polymers cool, they can form a hard coating similar to thin plastic—compare this to scorched oil or sugar on a cooking pan.”

Still notice leftover residue on your iron after cleaning it? Try using a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad or baking soda mixed with water on a towel to get rid of any stubborn patches.

“Do not use anything abrasive,” Smith says. “If the surface of your iron becomes scratched it can cause uneven heat with possible hot spots and this can create hair damage.”

Pro tip: If you notice a burnt smell coming from your curling iron, baking soda can also help to eliminate the odor.

With Smith’s quick and easy tips, your curling iron will look (and feel) good as new.

Looking for more expert hair advice? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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