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What Are the Best Tips for Removing Hair Spray?

By T. Alaine
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hair spray is a styling product that is designed to keep styles in place, so it is likely that this often-sticky product will build up in unwanted areas. Common places for hairspray buildup are in the hair itself, on walls or other surfaces near the site of application and on styling tools. The best tips for removing hair spray will depend on the surface that needs to be cleaned, but they are all somewhat similar. It is always wise to use a cleanser that is mild enough to prevent damage to the surface but strong enough to dissolve any oily hairspray residue. In most cases, a homemade solution of rubbing alcohol, dish-washing liquid and warm water will suffice.

One of the most likely places to encounter hair spray buildup is on the walls, which often accumulate residue from any misguided or overshot sprays. Flat paint can be rubbed with a warm, damp cloth as a means of removing hair spray. Walls that are somewhat glossy or that are covered in vinyl wallpaper can be treated with a mild, homemade solution. A 1:2 combination of rubbing alcohol and water can be mixed with a drop or two of gentle dish-washing liquid and then misted onto the wall with a spray bottle. After the solution is allowed to set for a few minutes to begin breaking down and removing the hair spray, it can be wiped off with a dry cloth.

Clothing and upholstered surfaces that require hair spray removal can be treated with mild homemade solutions. A small amount of fabric softener or dish-washing liquid diluted with water can be sprayed on the surface to help with removing hair spray. After the solution works for a few moments, it can be removed with a dry cloth and then rinsed or wiped with a damp cloth to remove all traces of the cleanser. Using mild cleansers for removing hair spray is important to keep from damaging the surfaces themselves. Even though homemade solutions are less likely to damage surfaces than harsher commercial cleansers, it still is wise to test a small sample in an inconspicuous spot before removing hair spray with any cleanser.

Hair spray also can build up on styling tools. To remove sticky hair spray residue from heat styling tools, the tools must always be unplugged, turned off and completely cooled. The same solution of rubbing alcohol and water can be used on curling irons and straighteners to break down hair spray buildup. Instead of using a spray bottle, a clean cloth can be saturated with the cleanser and rubbed over the styling tools. Any remaining cleanser and residue can then be wiped away with a dry cloth.

Some hair spray users find that the product can build up in their hair, particularly if they use too much. A clarifying shampoo can be used to remove this sticky buildup. Similarly, rinsing the hair with vinegar and following up with a regular shampoo will help break down sticky residue and restore shine and softness to the hair.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahGen — On Nov 05, 2013

When I have a lot of hair spray in my hair, it becomes all tangled and very difficult to remove in the shower. I discovered that if I use hair conditioner on those areas before shampooing, the hair spray comes off more easily.

So I use conditioner first, then I shampoo and then I use conditioner again. This has been working for me. I try to avoid using hair spray too often though, because I don't like having to wash my hair for half an hour afterward.

By burcinc — On Nov 04, 2013

I'm not sure why someone would get hair spray on styling tools in the first place. Hair spray should be applied last to hair. Since hair spray is drying, using styling tools after using hair spray will damage hair a lot.

Hair sprays with heat protection should be used before styling tools, and those can build up on styling tools. I personally use soap and water and a washcloth, it works fine. I try to clean my straightener and curler periodically so that hair products don't have the opportunity to build up.

By stoneMason — On Nov 04, 2013

I have hair spray build up on my hair straightener. If I use rubbing alcohol to clean it, will it harm the surface? It's ceramic.

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