How to Clean a Straight Razor – Easy to Follow Guide (2023)
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If you just got into wet shaving, you are ecstatic about owning a straight razor. The fact that it can last a lifetime is exciting. But then, you feel the pressure of cleaning and straight-edge razor maintenance. You don’t want your straight razor to end up looking like the one above!
Fortunately, the wet shaving learning curve is the only hard thing about using a straight razor for beginners. Other things like straight razor sharpening, honing, and cleaning is a walk in the park. In this piece, we’ll focus our efforts on teaching you how to clean a straight razor the right way. This way, you won’t fumble or panic at the thought of it.
If you own and have cleaned a shavette razor, you’ll find the straight razor cleaning process quite similar.
Without much ado, let’s dive into our easy-to-follow guide.
What You Need
As with any cleaning process, straight razor cleaning requires a few products to make the process easier and more manageable. Some of the products include:
- Regular dish detergent (do not use dishwasher detergent)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- A toothbrush – an old one is best
- Toothpicks or Q-tips
- A cup or a bowl
The first step is filling up the bowl or cup with warm water. The warm water you use should be boiled or filtered to rid it of impurities. If you skip this step, the water will leave behind some residue after drying.
Next, add some dish detergent to the water. Don’t be tempted to use dishwasher detergent as the blade cleaner. Dish detergent is light on blades and great on silverware.
With an old toothbrush, stir up the mixture thoroughly.
Open the straight razor to expose the otherwise hard-to-reach spots on the hinges.
Use toothbrush bristles to scrub the straight razor. The toothbrush also comes in handy in washing off soap scum on the straight razor’s blade and scales.
Three passes over the straight razor with soapy water will do.
For the tight crevices that you cannot get to, you should use toothpicks or Q-tips.
This step applies more to the shavette razors because they have more moving parts than straight razors.
If the soap scum has hardened over time, it will prove a challenge to remove. The trick is to leave the straight razor to sit in soapy water for a couple of minutes and then try scraping off the soap cum.
Pour the soapy water and clean the bowl or cup you were using. Be as thorough as you possibly can.
Once the bowl is clean, add 120 ml of isopropyl alcohol into the cup. With isopropyl alcohol, the higher the percentage, the better. The standard percentage is about 91%.
Clean the toothbrush bristles as thoroughly as you did the bowl in preparation for use with the isopropyl alcohol. Scrub the straight razor to get rid of any soap scum that might have remained after the first round of cleaning.
Three passes with the bristles and isopropyl alcohol will suffice. At this point, you’ll notice the blade is starting to shine like it did when it was new.
Aside from cleaning off stubborn soap scum, isopropyl alcohol does a great job of disinfecting the razor and metal polishing.
As you shave, a layer of dead skin and sometimes blood builds over time. Thus, disinfecting the razor every so often is a good idea to maintain high hygiene levels. Learn more about how to shave with a straight razor.
Once you are done cleaning with alcohol, let the straight razor dry. The alcohol should dry up fast, and no scum marks should be left behind.
After every shave, you can use hydrogen peroxide to keep the razor clean before the cleaning day.
Note: If you master the wet shaving technique, but ignore your shaving tools’ general hygiene levels, you’ll still have a bad shaving experience with razor bumps forming hours or days following your shaving session. Learn more about if you can use regular shaving cream with straight razors.
And there you have it, some great tips on how you should clean a straight razor. Bear in mind that the focus was on the best way to clean a straight razor and not how to clean a razor before a shaving session.
With that said, it’s good practice to dip your straight razor in a jar of isopropyl alcohol after every shaving session. This will help keep the razor sharp and sterilize the blade as part of the daily maintenance routine.
Remember: Aside from regularly cleaning your straight razor, you should also sharpen and hone your straight-edge razor. With a sharp straight razor, it’s easier to achieve a close and clean shave. Sharpening happens every once in a while but honing should be done before every shaving session. Some of the best recommended straight razor kits come with a straight razor strop, and some even with a hone included.
Also, remember to check out our article about the benefits of shaving with a straight razor.
Ruiru Kibet is passionate about beard care and male grooming. He believes it’s an art form and is happy to share his insight with men across the globe. He’s into wet shaving and evidence-based grooming, a passion that helps him analyze men’s grooming brands, products, and wet shaving practices presenting you with the best recommendations and advice.