Introduction: DIY Solder Tip Cleaner

Picture of DIY Solder Tip Cleaner

Make your own solder tip cleaning pad quickly and cheap.

From most electronic supply stores you can buy a copper pad used to clean off excess solder from your soldering iron.  Most soldering stations however ship with a sponge that you moisten prior to each use.

The idea behind using a copper pad instead of a wet sponge is that heat is lost to the sponge and a few extra seconds are required after each cleaning to get your operating temperature back up.

The solution is to add a copper pad to your soldering station and save your money doing it.

The cheapest source for a pad is to visit your local grocery or department store.  What you are looking for is a package of copper scouring pads, or puffs as my package labels them.  These will be found in the kitchen cleaning supplies section.

One package will last you a lifetime and should only cost a few dollars. Cheaper than the electronic supply variant.

With a pad in hand simply cut the end that is tied together and the roll will come apart.  You can now roll off a pad sized to your own needs and trim off the remainder.  You only need a few layers so you should have a fair amount left over for future use.

Place this on or near your soldering station to keep your iron clean and hot.

This instructable may be super simple but also super useful to all you circuit junkies out there.


wliu3 (author)2014-05-10

Heard that ordinary steel wool will damage the tip bit by bit and you need to replace it more frequently. So aren't those ones appearing in the kitchen cleaning section steel wool and shouldn't be used?

Ian01 (author)2013-01-13

SparkFun sells a brass sponge for this purpose. Which is better, copper or brass?

Also, does it eventually get saturated with solder so that it needs to be replaced?

KevinAlien26 (author)2012-07-04

Nice job! Sometimes the subtle changes can save you a lot of money in the long run. Would you need to add flux to the copper strands to clean the tip?

Thanks for your comment Keven.

To answer your question, there is no flux necessary. Like a newly stripped wire the copper will gladly accept the solder.

Flux is used to remove surface contaminants such as oils, and oxidization. Now, will the eventual oxidization of the copper lead to reduced solder wicking properties? Possibly, however I have never encountered this.

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