Poor hygiene is one of the main causes of irritation, infection and razor burn. But it’s not your hygiene we’re talking about — though we hope you wash your face. Instead, it’s the cleanliness of the tools you cut your facial, body and head hair with.
Think of all the gunk that collects in those razors: dead skin, hair clippings, congealed body oils, shaving creams — and that’s just from the shave itself. If you store a blade improperly, it’s going to collect dust, dirt and all kinds of nasty germs — precisely the kinds of things you don't want coming into contact with vulnerable skin pores.
Thankfully, there's an easy way to lessen the likelihood of ingrown hairs and infections: cleaning your equipment.
Below, we break down how to clean clippers, the type of tool barbers used on your head, razors, analog blades for your face and electric shavers, loud, buzzing devices that run on batteries or an electric charge.
How to Clean Clippers
Clippers are the hair-cutting tool of choice for most barbers. Though they buzz quite loudly, they cut through even the thickest hair with ease. They're a barber's workhorse, if you will.
If you own your own pair of clippers, you probably cut your own hair, maintain an incredible beard or maintain your kids' or partner's hair. In this case, you're only cutting a few folks' heads, and you know where they've been. You don't need to worry about sanitizing your clippers are intensely as barbers do — they do it after every single cut — but you should still keep them clean. Here's how.
Between deep cleans, disinfect the blades and brush out extra hair. You can do this with a simple spray — like Andis' Cool Care Plus — and a tiny brush. Not only does Andis' formula kill bacteria, but it cleans, cools and lubricates the blades, eliminating the need for another lubricant (like oil). To apply it, simply spray it across the blades from a distance in a back and forth motion. Wipe the blades dry, and then turn the device on.
When it's time to deep clean the blades, you'll need another solution. Andis makes a cleaning compound called Blade Care Plus, which you can pour into a shallow dish or the cap. Several barbers have demonstrated that the cap works quite well for this. First, dole out enough to submerge the blades, but only the blades. You don't want to get cleaner into the motor (aka the rest of the device).
Dip the blades into the solution. Turn the device on for 15 seconds. Remove it, and wipe any loose hair away. Dip it in again, and turn the device on. Wipe it dry, and you're done. You can use an air compressor (if you have one) or a tiny brush to clear any leftover hair off it after it's dry.
How to Clean a Razor
If you plan to reuse your razor blade, then you need to clean it properly before storing it. If it's brand new, you should clean it before first use.
Before You Shave
First, run the razor under hot water (the hotter the better), rinsing it in every possible direction. Don’t soak it in a full sink — don’t even do that mid shave, yuck — but just make sure you get all of the excess gunk out from between the blades. Sometimes it's okay to take a tweezer or even a rubbing-alcohol-dipped cotton swab to fish out stubborn clumps. Just rinse it with hot water afterward.
There should be no need to disinfect the razor further if it’s cleaned out and has been rinsed under high temps, but I'm not going to stop you from doing it again. Some people will run dish soap over the blades or soak them quickly in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide before rinsing again, but that’s a little excessive and could tarnish the blades.
While You Shave
Follow the same advice mid-shave, rinsing the blade as thoroughly as possible in warm-hot water to rid of each stroke’s collection. You don’t want to do a second pass over your face with any gunk already in the razor; that’s a surefire way to clog your pores.
How to Clean an Electric Shaver
First, figure out if your electric shaver or beard trimmer has wet/dry capabilities. You can easily do this by referring to your owner's manual or Googling your make and model.
If It Doesn't Have Wet/Dry Capabilities
Treat it like a pair of clippers: brush out visible hairs, spray it down with a disinfectant and dry it with a microfiber cloth.
If It Has Wet/Dry Capabilities
You can be a bit less gentle about the whole procedure. If the device comes apart, you can remove the head and brush it clean. Then, you can run it under hot water and disinfect it afterwards. If it has a foil head, you can run it under hot water and scrub it clean with a tiny brush. Just be sure to let it dry. Owning a wet razor comes with its own risks, like mold growth if kept in a warm, wet spot (aka by your bathroom sink).
If It Comes with a Cleaning Kit
There are also some electric shavers that come with their own cleaning kit — like the Braun Series 9 Pro Electric Shaver. With this tool, the charging base becomes a small car wash. You flip the shaver on its head, select the cleaning cycle and press clean. Water is stored inside, and it's cycled throughout when turned on. But the base also lubricates and dries the device, too.