If you work on any wiring or electronic projects, you know the importance of a clean soldering iron. A contaminated soldering iron tip reduces heat transfer and makes your job much more difficult. Proper cleaning and maintenance of the soldering-iron tip is critical in ensuring accuracy in your soldering task, as well as the longevity of the tool itself.
Plug in your soldering iron, allowing to heat to its normal operating temperature. This step helps melt and loosen contamination on the tip.
Gently rub the heated tip against a wire pad to remove old burnt flux and oxidation. Continue until the tip appears smooth. Do not wipe excessively, or you may remove the thin iron layer covering the copper base.
Wipe the soldering-iron tip against a wet sponge to remove the session's contamination while the iron is still hot. Immediately tin the tip with a thin layer of fresh 60/40 solder. This helps seal the tip from oxidation and fills small pits.
Wipe the handle and grip with isopropyl alcohol and a clean cloth to remove adhesives, flux or other hard-to-clean materials.
- Loosen the screw securing the tip into the handle after every session to keep it from seizing. Attempting to remove it after the fact may damage the tool's heating element.
- Always use solder with high tin content.
- Do not clean the tip with pure flux. This is a corrosive material that will eat away at any exposed copper on your iron's tip.
- Do not repeatedly wipe the tip with your wet cleaning sponge as you work. Repeated heating and cooling fluctuations eventually cause the tip to deform.
- Wire pad
- Wet cleaning sponge
- 60/40 solder
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Clean cloth
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images