Dollar Store Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner

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Introduction: Dollar Store Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner

You can make a soldering iron tip cleaner for one US dollar. Actually, you will make two for $2.00 and have a spare woven copper sponge. Only three items are needed:

  1. Tin with a plastic insert in the lid.
  2. Copper scourer as used in kitchen cleaning
  3. Electrical tape

Dollar Tree and other dollar stores sells two Magnetic Tins for $1.00. The tin is 63 mm (2.5-in) diameter and 25 mm (1-in) high. There is a strong magnet in the base. The magnet is not necessary to its use as a tip cleaner but it can be a handy feature so leave it on.

Also at the Dollar Tree are three copper scourers. Each is approximately 70 mm (2.75-in) diameter and 30 mm (1.2-in) thick.

Step 1: Prepare the Tin

Cut out the plastic window in the lid with a sharp utility or craft knife.

Tape the lid to the tin with a piece of electrical tape. The tape should be a bit longer than the circumference of the box. Use your high school math to calculate the circumference = 3.14159 * diameter, that is, C = πD. The dollar store box is 63 mm diameter so the circumference is 197 mm. Cut about a 210 mm length of tape. Put the lid on the tin and stretch the tape around the joint between the lid and the tin.

Press one of the sponges into the opening in the lid.

Step 2: Done!

Now you have a useful and usable soldering iron tip cleaner for just a dollar!

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9 Comments

I have used such soldering tip cleaning devices before. However, I like the sponge method myself. It is a personal preference I guess. But a moist sponge offers a unique situation that the metal cleaners don't. And that is the wet sponge initially cools the soldering tip while cleaning it and that turns on the heater element every time so that when you solder after cleaning the tip, it is on the up heat cycle and offers a better heat transfer. But like I stated. It is more of a personal choice. Your project is well worth the effort to make.

Normally, I use both but if I had to choose just one it would be the wet sponge. Sometimes though the sponge will leave a little slag on the tip. The metal sponge does a better job of keeping the entire tip bright and shiny.

well I've got a sponge and a dry cleaner. I prefer the sponge but when I'm too tired to go to the bathroom in order to wet the sponge I use the dry cleaner :)

I've heard that thermally shocking your tip by using a wet sponge creates microcracks, which as a result limits the lifespan of your tip. Not sure how much truth is in that, but that's what I've heard.

I have been soldering for well over 40 years and never experienced any such cracking. And I've always used a wet sponge to clean the tip every time before soldering every connection. The NASA micro miniature certification soldering schools I've attended teach the wet sponge technique. So I used it ever since. But there is still nothing wrong with using a copper metal cleaning technique either if you like it and it works for you.

Not doubting your experience, as I said this is just what I've heard and I don't actually know if it's the truth or just a myth. I just thought it would be a good idea to mention it just to add to the discussion. Anyway, personally the main reason that I prefer the brass sponge is because I find it more convenient, not becuase I'm concerned about the life of my tip.

Maybe it's just me, but I always had the impression that brass sponges made a better job for cleaning my tip compared to the copper ones. I get mine from eBay they only cost about 1€ as well.

Thanks, I will be making these for my next soldering class.

Great idea! And I love using the dollar store as a resource.