So you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a proper safety razor and you’re now reaping the benefits of a better shave. But razors made of solid metal tend to last a long time (a lifetime when properly cared for) and will slowly accumulate dirt through regular use. It won't be long before your shiny new razor starts to look tired and dull. So how do you clean a DE safety razor?
In this post we’ll be looking at how to keep your safety razor looking sparkling all day long. We’ll be assuming your razor was bought new and you’re not trying to restore a vintage product because the methods for cleaning are very different. There is an excellent article for cleaning vintage or second hand razors with all sorts of problems such as exposed plating, rust, and more here.
How dirty is your razor?
After a while your razor gets a greasy buildup comprised mainly of soap but also general debris in the form of dead skin cells and oils that cause it to lose its shine and in some cases can prevent the razor from giving a good shave.
You may also find rust on the inside of the razor head. Most modern razors are plated with nickel or chrome which won’t rust but the blade you place in your razor isn’t so it will start to decay. If left in your razor long enough, the rust from your blade can get stuck to your razor. This isn’t a problem and we’ll move on to how to remove it.
By far the best way to have a clean razor is to clean it regularly! We recommend giving your razor a quick clean every 2-3 uses. It only takes a minute and will save you time in the future, as well as keep it looking shiny.
Take apart your razor (leaving the blade to one side) and, using an old hand towel, wipe off any residue, buffering it to a shine.
And that’s it! Regularly done, this will be enough to keep you razor looking its best
Less frequent cleaning and rust removal
But what if you’ve not cleaned it in a while and the residue is too much for a towel to remove? This is where an old tooth brush comes in handy. Using hot soapy water, you can brush off any stubborn bits. The same goes for any rust left from an old blade. Toothpaste has proven an effective cleaning agent for removing stubborn bits of soap and debris as it lathers up nicely.
Another great way to remove dirt and rust from a blade is to boil the razor. You have to be careful with this method because it can damage the metal if you place it directly in the pan. All you need to do is place your razor in a colander and then place this in a pan of boiling water. By using a colander (or something similar) you are keeping the razor away from the very hot pan base and can ensure an even, safe temperature to boil it in. Leave it boiling for 10 minutes and then take it out and let it cool before handling.
Never add cold water to cool it! The sudden change in temperature can damage your razor.
Once it has cooled enough to touch, you can start cleaning the razor with a toothbrush and some warm soapy water. To finish, use a soft, dry towel to wipe off any remaining bits and leave it looking shiny.
A note on “disinfecting”
Many articles online will talk about using a high percentage (90%+) alcohol to disinfect your razor between uses.
This confusion seems to stem from old barbershops that would use a barbicide between customers to sterilise their equipment and prevent cross-contamination. After all, you wouldn't want to be shaved with the same razor that just shaved someone else, who knows how healthy he is.
Assuming you are only shaving yourself and you bought your razor brand new, it really isn’t necessary to sterilise your razor.