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Razor Cleaning Guide

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.

Razor Cleaning Guide

Postby yoyology » Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:46 am

I see this series of pictures linked quite frequently:

http://www.shavemyface.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=331

They are excellent, and I think they should be posted in a Sticky post here in the Razors forum, with (of course) a caveat that boiling is not recommended for gold-colored razors. That way we can point people to them more easily.

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Postby Ben » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:04 pm

Thanks. :D

I updated the caption under the photo of boiling water to note that the process can damage the finish on gold razors.
Last edited by Ben on Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby With The Grain » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:05 pm

no offense to Ben at all but i think it would be better done if someone (Ben?) just made a fresh and complete post on it. the above is good though i think most guys hit razors with soap and a brush before and after the boiling and before polishing. A dip in barbercide+ or a similar product is also a nice disinfecting step that would be nice to mention so the "i used vinegar/bleached my razor and turned it brown" :shock: posts go down.
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Postby Ben » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:13 pm

I'm so utterly offended. Damn you. :lol:

The guide is great for all razors, particularly the seriously foul ones. In many cases, a toothbrush and some soap or non-abrasive toothpaste will do the job. The MAAS restores a shine in a way that soap can never duplicate. We have many ways to clean razors. My guide was really to show that you can restore seriously trashed razors and make them users again.
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Postby Jay1974 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:46 pm

What do you suggest for a gold razor? I think Michael (Leisure) mentioned he never had trouble boiling? My wife has barbacide and some other strong stuff (aestitician), so perhaps brushing with toothpaste, polish and dip is ok?
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Postby FiReSTaRT » Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:50 pm

Use a collander or a steaming dish and partially immerse it in boiling water (so it doesn't touch the bottom of the pot). You can put the razor in there and get all the benefits of boiling water with no damage to the finish.
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Postby ScottS » Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:47 am

I find boiling does a job on the lacquer finish, whether you're touching the bottom of the pot or not.
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Postby Johnnie » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:59 pm

I just purchased a gold Aristocrat. What is the best method for cleaning gold razors?


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Postby 2clfrwrds » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:09 pm

Johnnie wrote:I just purchased a gold Aristocrat. What is the best method for cleaning gold razors?

I can't find much in the archives about cleaning gold razors, but I bookmarked this thread a long time ago.

BTW, Johnnie, I'm looking forward to your Aristocrat review.

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Postby Johnnie » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:13 pm

I plan on using it all next week so I'll give you a review then.

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Barbicide

Postby Rufus » Wed May 09, 2007 3:16 pm

I've seen a number of posts regarding the use of Barbicide to disinfect razors. However, I've come across a public health notice (ref. www.wdghu.org) from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health authority stating that Barbicide cannot be used for disinfecting any part of a shaving razor or blade that contacts the skin. They require that a razor or balde be disinfected with an intermediate to high-level disinfectant, e.g. 70% to 90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol solution or a dilution of 1 part bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to 99 parts water.

Perhaps some of our members who are medical/public health professionals could comment on this. Can anyone comment on whether or not either of these suggested solutions could damage the finish of typical DE and injector razors?
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Postby proFeign » Thu May 31, 2007 4:26 pm

I think the reason barbicide isn't good enough is that the medical standards for what are called blood-contacting instruments, a razor would probably be considered a "surgical" instrument and would probably recommend autoclaving them.

but in the absence of that I would, as a non-doctor but someone who does lots of stuff with chemicals and machines, NEVER use bleach on a razor. Bleach is a heavy corrosive and it's pretty overpowered to kill germs. I would recommend, if you're super paranoid about germs, using a 91% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol solution (most are 70% but most places have 91% for a little more money) and letting it sit for a few hours. periodically dipping it into boiling water and back into the alcohol couldn't be bad either, but heating the razor to 212 degrees might be bad for all kinds of things, including the springs in adjustable razors.

If you do use polish you're going to want to get all of it off via the same process because there are a lot of things in metal polishes you don't want on your skin.

If there's crap on the razor that alcohol won't remove you could try brushing it with something called Goof-Off, which is a potent xylene-based hydrocarbon solvent which will remove anything. DO NOT use Goof-Off on anything that has plastic parts. They almost certainly will get attacked. Acetone would be a good final bath for a totally cleaned razor; it'll dissolve off any latent polish and kill any remaining germs and it will evaporate quickly and completely.

Again: bleach is a corrosive and I really don't use it on any metals, even in dilute solutions. Acetone would be a good one-stop solvent for cleaning this stuff. 20 oz of it is about $10 from a hardware store.
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Postby Rufus » Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:37 am

I agree that bleach should not be used on metal. I soak my razors in isopropyl alcohol for about half an hour after scrubbing them thoroughly to remove soap scum and other residue. But acetone? never heard of this used as a disinfectant; will have to research further.
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Re: Barbicide

Postby cutting_edge » Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:37 am

Rufus wrote:I've seen a number of posts regarding the use of Barbicide to disinfect razors. However, I've come across a public health notice (ref. www.wdghu.org) from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health authority stating that Barbicide cannot be used for disinfecting any part of a shaving razor or blade that contacts the skin. They require that a razor or balde be disinfected with an intermediate to high-level disinfectant, e.g. 70% to 90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol solution or a dilution of 1 part bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to 99 parts water.

Perhaps some of our members who are medical/public health professionals could comment on this. Can anyone comment on whether or not either of these suggested solutions could damage the finish of typical DE and injector razors?


I am not sure that razors should be treated as a surgical instrument. This places the highest scrutiny in sterilizing, would be quite impractical for most classic razor users to keep up with. Lets not forget classic shaving was out there for a looooong time and people took care of nicks with alcohol containing after shaves.

I wouldn't use bleach, it can damage metal parts by inducing corrosion. Autoclave is a very effective sterilizing method but will damage razors with plastic parts. Other acceptable alternatives include immersing in 70% ethanol (alcohol), and ultra-sonic bath at sub-boiling temp with a dish detergent. Both will not leave any damage on razors.
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Re: Barbicide

Postby proFeign » Sun Jun 03, 2007 1:46 pm

cutting_edge wrote:
Rufus wrote:I've seen a number of posts regarding the use of Barbicide to disinfect razors. However, I've come across a public health notice (ref. www.wdghu.org) from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health authority stating that Barbicide cannot be used for disinfecting any part of a shaving razor or blade that contacts the skin. They require that a razor or balde be disinfected with an intermediate to high-level disinfectant, e.g. 70% to 90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol solution or a dilution of 1 part bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to 99 parts water.

Perhaps some of our members who are medical/public health professionals could comment on this. Can anyone comment on whether or not either of these suggested solutions could damage the finish of typical DE and injector razors?


I am not sure that razors should be treated as a surgical instrument. This places the highest scrutiny in sterilizing, would be quite impractical for most classic razor users to keep up with. Lets not forget classic shaving was out there for a looooong time and people took care of nicks with alcohol containing after shaves.

I wouldn't use bleach, it can damage metal parts by inducing corrosion. Autoclave is a very effective sterilizing method but will damage razors with plastic parts. Other acceptable alternatives include immersing in 70% ethanol (alcohol), and ultra-sonic bath at sub-boiling temp with a dish detergent. Both will not leave any damage on razors.


I agree that treating it as surgical instrument is a waste of energy, but wrt what Rufus was saying it's required of public health codes. This only applies to barbers and whatnot. Seriously, if we were to hold ourselves to this code we'd have to store all of our combs in barbicide and autoclave our nail clippers. So I was only saying that I think alcohol should be fine but alcohol will not always remove surface grubbiness so acetone's a little better at that. Also if you're going to use polish I highly recommend you soak it in acetone or at least 91% iso after to get all the nasty hydrocarbon polish grease off before you end up getting it on your shaving brush/hands/face.

Note also that acetone doesn't play nice with some plastics either. But then plastic razors don't need polishing.
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Postby final_id » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:07 pm

Though I certainly don't know more than other people here about traditional wet shaving, I think I might know something about cleaning old metal. I've worked as a conservator and curator of rare items, including historical artifacts from as far back as the fourteenth century. I generally wasn't the go-to guy for metal objects -- I was more in the rare books business -- but I still was around the shop when the metal cleaning was going on. (Usually it stunk, if I remember correctly.)

So I thought I might just concoct some procedures and try them out. I haven't destroyed anything really valuable, not yet, and I'm having a great time learning to clean up old razors. I'm restoring razors and other finds I got at a few antique junque stores. I haven't gone so far as to boil anything -- that seems rather drastic, although it also seems recommended often on these boards. Instead, my two main weapons of choice are the products CLR and Blue Magic.

CLR ("calcium, lime, rust") is essentially a scum dissolver. It works a lot like Lysol soap-scum remover, but I find CLR a bit more effective on a wider range of horrors, and it comes in larger jugs. In addition, CLR is the KING for dissolving rust or corrosion on brass, steel, etc. Let it sit and soon enough the shiny under-metal shows right through! You can get a two-gallon at the larger hardware stores (Lowe's, Home Depot) or a pint at a drugstore in the cleaning aisle. I soak razors (and other items) for maybe thirty minutes in a glassful of CLR, perhaps diluted with water 50/50 if I feel the razor is delicate. This tends to soften all the built up soap scum and other forms of "slime" and "residue." Left to soak long enough, CLR will "eat off" all the corrosion -- which we usually call "rust," at least on iron-based metals like carbon-steel and chromed steel. You have to buff stuff down after it's been soaking in CLR, but (depending on how soft the goop has gotten) sometimes all that's needed is a wipe with a paper towel. Sometimes after I wipe or scrub away as much as I can get rid of with one glass of CLR, I have to then soak the razor in CLR a second or even third time and buff again. Generally you can get CLR at 28 ounces for about $8, it's made by www.jelmar.com .

Blue Magic is a chrome polishing paste. In my estimation it is NOT an abrasive -- it has no microscopic particles to gently buff a surface, as far as I can tell; rather, it is some kind of electrolytic agent (suspended in an odd and stinky opaque light-blue formaldehyde gel) which, as it says right on the label, is safe for electroplated and chromed items. It won't make chrome or gold plate flake away. When I found this at an auto supply store in the detailing aisle, I was delighted. It has turned out to be wonderful. For example, I buffed to a high shine a Gillette gold Tech with no loss of covering or sheen, no damage to the finish. It handled standard chrome, steel, and brass razor surfaces equally well. Blue Magic has an odd action -- as you rub away the blue gel, a black powdery paste appears, not unlike soot off a match. Beneath that, as you wipe away, appears shiny metal. A seven-ounce jar cost about $7. Also comes in liquid form. It's not very good for wide, large surfaces -- it requires some elbow-grease, and doesn't spread easily, but clings to surfaces like toothpaste. So I'd say it's really good for a small thing like a razor, not so hot for a large thing like a car hood. What I've read about MAAS metal compound makes it sound quite similar to Blue Magic. Both are, as well, not water soluble. You have to wipe away all the excess, with Q-tips or rags or paper towels. Rinsing just leaves blue goop.

The more abrasive "household" metal compounds -- Brasso, Tarn-X, Twinkle, many automotive aluminum cleaners -- are simply gels with microscopic abrasive dust in them. They grind away rust, yes; but also anything else in their path. Don't use them! Those formulated for a specific metal (Twinkle Copper Cleaner versus Twinkle Silver Cleaner, for example) are simply mixed in such a way as to be softer than the intact metal but harder than any deposit of corrosion ON the metal. This would be fine for a razor, IF you knew exactly what was the degree of hardness for all the undesirable residue. Do you know if the soap scum is harder than the rust? How much has it dried, and can you calibrate it? I don't think so ...

After the CLR and the Blue Magic, I basically do as I choose. For some razors I've put on a light coat of S-100, which is a carnauba-based shining wax (got it at a Harley dealer) designed to give "that showroom shine" to fancy cars and motorcycles. I used to apply S-100 as a preservative on my fancier road-racing bicycles, though I haven't been a roadie for a long time now. For other razors I've dunked them in mineral oil, as suggested in many places, in the hopes of that "glittering shine," but that hasn't really impressed me. I think a better buffing wax like S-100 is a more effective way to seal the metal from general atmospheric humidity and moisture. For a couple of razors, particularly the gold-plated few that I own, I didn't do anything else. Cleaned up and left to dry, they look like new and the non-coated twinkle is a delight to the eye.

I do notice that mineral oil lubricates moving parts. (Aside: Sometimes too much. For one old screw-top, also called "three-piece," I found that, after a dunking in mineral oil, the parts were so slippery that they simply glided past one another and never stuck in place. The head wouldn't stay put! I had to get in there with a tiny wedge of kleenex and remove the oil, so it wouldn't be so well lubricated and would therefore work right.) Generally, a little mineral oil nicely brings barn doors back to life; beyond that, I'm not keen on the utility of mineral oil. I like my S-100.

If I wanted to shave with any one of these razors, I think I would want to sterilize it first. I believe dunking in a 32:1 solution of water to Barbicide for maybe twenty minutes, jiggling thoroughly at least once, should be enough. After all the compounds and rubbing, above, I can't imagine any bacteria lurking about that would survive Barbicide.

I did notice a rather nasty corner of chrome sticking up right on the edge of the head of one Gillette travel razor that I cleaned up. Though my cleaning regimen did nothing to exacerbate this burr, and did get it nice and shiny (of course!), I don't think I'd ever recommend shaving with something like that. This burr would rest almost directly above the blade edge, and so would likely contact the skin at certain angles of shave. Its sharp edge might cut, and then the cut would be derived not from a nice safe modern razor blade, but from a corner of ancient goop-concealing flap. You basically can't glide this razor's head over your face without risking contact from the burr. That's not a weakness of the cleaning regimen, it's a mechanical problem. To me, it means never shaving with this razor. To some other daredevil, perhaps it means applying a careful twist with a tiny pair of pliers, but I'm not going to risk it for myself. So even after Barbicide, some razors simply aren't fit for shaving.

I read a lot on the forums about substances more antiseptic than Barbicide. My personal (entirely and utterly non-medical) opinion is, this isn't necessary. Its the razor blade that does the cutting, not the handle or the head (except in the case of something like my unusable travel Gillette, above, and as long as I own that, it won't be cutting anything ever). On those few occasions when old evils hiding in goop might get into a cut made by new blade, then simply make sure there IS NO OLD GOOP in the first place, and only clean metal, in which case Barbicide is sufficient. Verification by magnifying glass can confirm, no old goop anywhere that would get into a new cut. Just my opinion, of course, but informed enough that I personally am quite comfortable living by it. (I am enough of a hygiene stickler that I use Barbicide even on my new DE blades, by the way, regardless of the razor head in which they'll be held, ancient or vintage or modern or new -- 32:1!)

Oh, and never use those old carbon-steel blades that come with vintage razors, is the consensus throughout all the forums; no matter how carefully cleaned or honed, they cannot be so healthy as to be useful. Rusty cut = certain death. :shock:

I hope all of this is food for thought. I don't think most of the other outlined cleaning regimens are necessarily negative to the razor, I just have my own short-cuts, and I'm glad for the chance to share. With CLR and Blue Magic, I think, you really won't go wrong. So far I believe that these products do not interact negatively with the black plastics of many vintage razors (CLR cleans this stuff up like a breeze! and Blue Magic isn't doing squat but sitting there), though I haven't ever applied either to true 1930s Bakelite. I'll let you know.

To summarize:

1. Very hot water yes; boiling no.
2. Soaked in CLR and wiped or buffed clean, several times if necessary.
3. Buffed with Blue Magic, never Brasso et al..
4. Mineral oil as a lubricant?
5. Disinfected with 32:1 water:Barbicide if you're going to shave with it.
and / or
6. Coated with a nice wax or oil, S-100 is my preference, maybe more mineral oil, if you're going to show it.

As problems develop I'll certainly advise. But I'm happy with CLR and Blue Magic. I even got a cheap set of toothbrushes (4 for $2) that had a variety of colored handles, so I could use the colors matching the different cleaners!
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Postby stephen732 » Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:14 am

what about razors with black handles? can they be boiled? or are there consumer autoclaves available to the public?
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Postby piperjason » Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:53 pm

I found that a good way to get that reside off a razor from metal polish is to go at with a toothbrush and Dawn dish detergent.

Really, by the time it was run through with metal polish (I used a tooth brush for this) then scrubbed with hot water and dish soap (I just used the same tooth brush) to get the metal polish off, are germs really an issue?
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Best cleaning routing so far

Postby max-s » Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:11 pm

final_id wrote:I think I might know something about cleaning old metal. ...products CLR and Blue Magic.



Cliff,

you sure know what you're talking about! That Blue Magic is the best stuff I have ever encountered. Puts Maas to shame. Blue Magic is truly amazing! together with Nevr-dull.

I had a 64 slim adjustable that looked wasted and which I use for my daily shaving. I paid really a few bucks for it at the time. I also have a 62 slim that is in excellent mint condition and which I paid a fair amount for but It's part of my collection which I never use.

Boiling seems rather cruel to me too so after reading your post I said to myself why not give it a try. Got some CLR at Wal-mart and Blue Magic at Pep Boys. First I sprayed some scrubbing bubbles and had it sit for 15 minutes. Rinsed it with a toothbrush. Secondly I soaked it for about 30 minutes in a 50/50 CLR/water solution. Again after the 30 minutes I rinsed and cleaned it with a soft toothbrush. Thirdly I polished it with the Blue Magic. At first it didn't do or show much. Kind of dull. But as I started buffing my buffing cloth became so black I wondered where the hell it was coming from. It just kept turning black. As I progressed the shine of the razor was just amazing. I could not believe it. It's a drag to clean on some of the more difficult spots but using some Q-tips and lots of patience I finally was able to have a mint condition razor. Maybe a dremel would be a good alternative for those tight spots. It looks exactly as my 62 mint condition, even better I guess as I had my wife pick out my mint 62 and she picked the 64 I had just cleaned.. lol

I used some mineral oil to lubricate everything.

You definitely have my vote for your cleaning and restoration routine. It's the only one I'll be using going forward...
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Re: Best cleaning routing so far

Postby Shave4Fun » Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:53 pm

max-s wrote:
final_id wrote:I think I might know something about cleaning old metal. ...products CLR and Blue Magic.



Cliff,

you sure know what you're talking about! That Blue Magic is the best stuff I have ever encountered. Puts Maas to shame. Blue Magic is truly amazing! together with Nevr-dull.

I had a 64 slim adjustable that looked wasted and which I use for my daily shaving. I paid really a few bucks for it at the time. I also have a 62 slim that is in excellent mint condition and which I paid a fair amount for but It's part of my collection which I never use.

Boiling seems rather cruel to me too so after reading your post I said to myself why not give it a try. Got some CLR at Wal-mart and Blue Magic at Pep Boys. First I sprayed some scrubbing bubbles and had it sit for 15 minutes. Rinsed it with a toothbrush. Secondly I soaked it for about 30 minutes in a 50/50 CLR/water solution. Again after the 30 minutes I rinsed and cleaned it with a soft toothbrush. Thirdly I polished it with the Blue Magic. At first it didn't do or show much. Kind of dull. But as I started buffing my buffing cloth became so black I wondered where the hell it was coming from. It just kept turning black. As I progressed the shine of the razor was just amazing. I could not believe it. It's a drag to clean on some of the more difficult spots but using some Q-tips and lots of patience I finally was able to have a mint condition razor. Maybe a dremel would be a good alternative for those tight spots. It looks exactly as my 62 mint condition, even better I guess as I had my wife pick out my mint 62 and she picked the 64 I had just cleaned.. lol

I used some mineral oil to lubricate everything.

You definitely have my vote for your cleaning and restoration routine. It's the only one I'll be using going forward...


Max,

You mentioned Never-dull. Did you use after the Blue Magic? If so, what difference did it make?

Today I used Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish (says it's "Perfect for all Metals") on a couple of flare tip Super-Speeds and they shined up real nice.

At any rate, I know how some of the folks on ebay are coming up with "mint" razors!

Thanks for the post.
Roger

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