razor being washed through a water faucet

Safety razors provide you with a shave, unlike anything a disposable blade can give you. Despite all the flashy features and gimmicks of the five blades, rotating heads, gel strips, and all the other added material of a disposable razor, your safety blade has a single, double-sided blade that gives you an exceptional shave every single time. You just need to know how to take care of the blade. This begins and ends with how to clean a safety razor. With some basic care tips you’ll not only maintain the sharpness of the blade, but you’ll avoid the undesirable side effects of shaving, such as ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

What You’ll Need For How To Clean a Safety Razor

Cleaning a safety razor is important. You don’t want to just run the blade along your neck, face, legs, or wherever else you use it, and then set it on the bathroom counter to dry. That’s a good way to let bacteria grow on the blade. This bacteria will reduce the quality of every future shave. Instead, you need to know how to clean a safety razor.

The Importance of Cleaning a Safety Razor

Before diving into how to clean a safety razor, it’s important to know why it’s necessary. After all, if you don’t need to clean a blade, why do it at all? When you shave your body (specifically your face), you want a clean, close shave that leaves your skin feeling smooth. Yet sometimes you’ll experience ingrown hairs and the dreaded razor bumps (especially around your neck).

But What Causes These Shaving Issues?

First, ingrown hairs occur when the hair is not cut cleanly but instead pulled out. The hair then grows into the skin, causing it to irritate your skin. It also blocks the pore’s ability to release the oil, which causes it to develop a pimple-like appearance. If you’ve ever popped an ingrown hair, you know that when the pore is cleared, a larger hair pushes free. To avoid ingrown hairs, you’ll need a sharp blade. One of the best ways to maintain a sharp safety razor blade is by cleaning it correctly.

Razor bumps occur when your skin is irritated during a shave. This can happen if you have a dull blade, if you’re pushing skin follicles back into the open pores, and if you’re using a dirty razor. 

Razor bumps occur when your skin is irritated during a shave. This can happen if you have a dull blade, if you’re pushing skin follicles back into the open pores, and if you’re using a dirty razor. To avoid skin irritation and razor bumps, you want to exfoliate the shaving area at least every day.

You’re more likely to suffer razor bumps on the neck because of the folds in skin which may collect dead skin cells, plus it isn’t washed as often as your face. So proper exfoliation is key. You also need a clean razor blade. If you don’t clean the blade, you’ll push bacteria up into the pores, leading to bumps. To avoid a dirty blade, you need to know how to clean a safety razor.

What You’ll Need To Clean a Safety Razor

Most of what you’ll need to clean your safety razor you likely already have at home. If you don’t have some of the items, you can pick the material up from your local grocery store for only a few dollars. Having these products on hand is well worth the cost, as it will improve the quality of your shave while reducing the chance of razor bumps and ingrown hairs.

To properly clean your safety razor you’ll need:

  • Cup
  • Barbicide (or rubbing alcohol)
  • Old toothbrush (cleaned)
  • Skin-friendly dish washing liquid

For post-shaving care of your safety razor, you should also invest in baby oil (it isn’t part of the cleaning process but will help maintain the sharpness of the blade).

Step-By-Step Cleaning Guide

Whenever you are done shaving, you’ll want to make sure and follow this step-by-step for how to clean a safety razor.

1. Clean Off The Blade

razor and blades

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After you have finished shaving, you’ll want to clean off the blade. Open up the safety razor and remove the blade from its holster. Rinse off the hair on both sides of the blade. Make sure to rinse off the safety razor as well. You want to rid the razor and blade of not only hair but of soap scum that will cling to the chrome.

2. Deeper Cleaning

razor and cream

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With the hair and soap scum rinsed off, fill your cup with warm water and then add a small amount of your dishwashing liquid. It’s best to go with something that is skin-friendly, such as a soap that contains aloe. It’s generally based to avoid harsh cleaners. With the soapy water, dip your clean toothbrush into the water and scrub off the razor with the toothbrush. You’ll want to use a soft bristle toothbrush here. This deeper scrubbing will help make sure all the added soap scum is removed. You may find it easier to clean the safety razor one piece at a time. Cleaning off the butterfly razor blades can be a bit tricky on its own though, so you may want to pinch down the blade along the sides while still in the housing, and then flip the blade over once you have finished scrubbing. Just be careful when cleaning the blade and avoid touching the sharpened edges. Once you’ve finished with the brush cleaning rinse everything off once again. Now, assemble the blade back together, but avoid over-tightening the head of the safety razor. You don’t want to keep the razor-tight while drying. If you leave it tight the screws within the safety razor’s head might begin to wear and rust, making it difficult to remove the blade later on down the line.

3. Soak In Barbicide (or Rubbing Alcohol)

razor barbicide and other cleaner in mens toilet

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Place the head of the safety razor into the bottom of your cup. Now, pour either the Barbicide or the rubbing alcohol instead of the cup and let it soak for 10 minutes. This will kill off any other germs that might fester on the safety razor. If you suffer from razor bumps, this step is very important. Ideally, you will use Barbicide, as it is gentler on your skin. The rubbing alcohol may cause your next shave to sting just a bit if you don’t completely rinse the alcohol off of the blade. Barbicide is a gentler liquid designed specifically for this purpose (if you go to a barbershop you will notice a container of a bluish liquid that houses the combs and other blades. This is Barbicide). After the safety razor has soaked for 10 minutes, you’ll want to rinse off the blade and let it dry on a razor rack (keep it off the countertop as there may be bacteria sitting here). Again, you’ll want to avoid over-tightening the screw on your safety razor to avoid the screw rusting and drying in place.

Additional Cleaning Tips

person holding blue plastic razor

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This next step is not strictly necessary in answering the question of how to clean a safety razor. However, it will improve the quality of your shave and the quality of your blade.

After your razor has dried, you’ll want to fill a cup with baby oil. You can also use olive oil if you’d like. Let the blade soak in the oil overnight. This helps protect the blade and prevents it from breaking down. Don’t worry about any bacteria forming, as the blade is completely submerged in the oil and bacteria will be unable to grow in this environment. For best results, you only need to do this once a week or so.

Once the blade has finished soaking in the oil, you’ll want to rinse it off: otherwise, hair will stick to the blade as you shave. You can then dunk the blade in the Barbicide to rinse off any remaining oil or use the rubbing alcohol applied to a cotton ball.

As an additional tip for maintaining the quality of your blade, you can also sharpen it on a piece of discarded denim. Run the blade left and right over the denim. This will help sharpen the blade (make sure the denim is clean). This will both extend the length of your blade while improving the quality of your shave. A well-maintained blade will last months instead of a few weeks.


front view of clean razor

Image via Flickr

When it comes to learning how to clean a safety razor, you will find it isn’t a difficult task to complete. You only need a handful of items, most of which you probably already have on hand. As long as you clean the safety razor on a regular basis, you’ll not only extend the life of the blade but you’ll improve the quality of your shave.

This, in turn, will reduce the chance of ingrown hairs and razor bumps developing. Additionally, if you follow the oil and denim shaving tips, you’ll extend the blade’s life saving you money over the cost of buying more blades throughout the year.

Featured Image: Photo by Patrick Coddou on Unsplash


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