5 Tips on How To Clean a Curling Iron – Hair Spray and Gunk Removal

Last Updated:July 23, 2020

Do you style your hair often? When was the last time that you cleaned your hot tools? How to clean a curling iron?

If you use a lot of styling products on your hair then traces of these products are left on your curlers. Hairspray, heat protectants, styling mousse, and leave-on hair products, all these turns to nasty white or brown gunk that builds up on the surface material of your curlers. If you don’t clean your curling iron then the stains all over the curler will affect the performance of your hot tools. Worse, this sticky gunk could make their way to your hair, which will definitely ruin your look.

If you haven’t thought about cleaning your curling iron before then now’s a good time to collect all your hot tools and giving these a proper cleaning. In this guide, we are listing down ways on how to clean curling iron.

IMPORTANT: Safety FIRST!

How to Clean a Curling Iron:
Getting the Gunk Off Your Hot Tools

Option 1: How to Clean a Curling iron with Acetone

Acetone helps break down the sticky, nasty gunk that builds up on the curling barrel. Nail polish removers are available in most beauty stores too so cleaning your curling iron this way will be a straightforward process. However, there are milder alternatives to acetone if you want to go easy on the surface material. I would recommend this cleaning method for stubborn buildups.

  1. Saturate a clean towel or a wad of cotton with acetone.
  2. Rub the towel or cotton wad all over the barrel, making sure that the liquid is not seeping into the base of the curler and ruining the circuitry.
  3. Give the acetone a few seconds to loosen the gunk then gently scrub away using a fine bristled toothbrush.
  4. Get another clean towel and wipe the gunk off and you’re done.

If you’re using acetone to clean your hot tools, get the plain one, not nail polish removers with moisturizers and other ingredients.

Recommended Acetone Cleaners

Option 2: How to Clean a Curling iron with Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol makes an excellent cleaning agent for hot tools because it breaks down traces of hair products easily. However, this method is only recommended for light stains and might not work for stubborn buildups. To remove stains efficiently, use 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. 

  1. Saturate a clean towel or a wad of cotton with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub the saturated towel or cotton wad all over the barrel, making sure that the liquid is not seeping into the base of the curler and ruining the circuitry.
  3. Give the rubbing alcohol a few seconds to break the gunk then gently scrub away using a fine bristled toothbrush.
  4. Get another clean paper towel and wipe the gunk off and you’re done.

Recommended Alcohol Cleaners

Option 3: How to Clean a Curling iron with Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent all-around cleaner and it cleans hairspray off curling iron!

  1. To use baking soda to clean your hot tools, mix two parts baking soda with four parts water.
  2. With a cleaning cloth, wipe the baking soda and water solution all over the hot tool just like a normal store-bought cleaner.
  3. Baking soda is mildly abrasive; it will gently lift the sticky buildup, leaving your hot tools spick and span.
  4. For stubborn build-up, use a fine-toothed toothbrush to scrub the stains off. Apply the solution liberally.
  5. Once the hot tools are clean, finish off by wiping the devices dry with kitchen towels.

Do not leave the baking soda solution to sit for too long because it might damage the ceramic coating of the curler.

Recommended Baking Soda

Option 4: How to Clean a Curling iron with Ammonia

Ammonia is known for breaking down stubborn grime or stains caused by cooking grease, wine stains, and yes, even styling buildups of all kinds. This method is particularly effective in banishing burnt buildups, which are common in styling tools. Cleaning with ammonia works so well for ceramic, ceramic tourmaline, ceramic-titanium, or other hybrid ceramic barrels.

  1. To use ammonia as a cleaner for hot tools, saturate a cotton pad with the solution and apply all over the stained barrel.
  2. Let the solution sit for 2 minutes or until the burnt buildup softens, it should wipe off easily with a dry cleaning cloth.
  3. Repeat until the stain has been removed completely.

For hard to remove buildups, try soaking the device with ammonia.

  1. Use a Ziploc bag and pour ammonia in it.
  2. Pop the stain-ridden hot tool in the Ziploc bag. Make sure to submerge the curling iron in the ammonia.
  3. Let the device sit for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the device from the Ziploc bag, wipe dry with kitchen towels, the stains should come right off.

Recommended Ammonia Cleaners

Option 5: How to Clean a Curling iron with a Professional Cleaner

Professional cleaners such as oven cleaner and Goo Gone could be used for cleaning a curling iron. These heavy-duty cleaning agents will eliminate all sorts of styling stains, especially hairspray buildup.

  1. Just prepare the cleaner of your choice as well as two cleaning cloths and a damp cloth.
  2. Apply the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Wipe or scrub the stains using the cleaning cloth then finish up with a wipe of damp cloth to remove traces of the cleaning agent.
  4. Using the second cleaning cloth, give your hot tool the final swipe and you’re done.

Goo Gone and Oven Cleaner work fast in melting hard-to-remove gunk and hairspray build up. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instruction so you don’t end up damaging the ceramic barrel of your curler.

Recommended Professional Cleaners

How Often Should You Clean Your Hot Tools?

That depends on how often you use your styling tools. If you use your hot tools all the time then cleaning should be done once or twice per month. If you don’t style your hair regularly, clean only as needed. If you are seeing a sticky film or grimy areas on the barrel, it’s time to clean your hot tools.

Conclusion: How to Clean a Curling Iron

Cleaning a curling iron is easy and most of the cleaners that we’ve listed on this guide can be found in your kitchen. Depending on the surface material of the curling iron, some are resilient to harsh solutions like acetone or baking soda while others are sensitive to such cleaning agents.

My advice would be to start with the gentlest cleaners if you are cleaning ceramic-based curlers. For curlers with titanium plates, you have more freedom in terms of the cleaners to use because the metal alloy is tough enough to withstand harsh chemicals.

Other Recommended Hot Iron Cleaners

Last update on 2020-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API