How to clean a vintage safety razor

How to Clean A Vintage Safety Razor

You wander around the flea market and found a vintage safety razor and wondering how to clean a vintage safety razor like this one. It looks so gloomy that you want to take it home and cheer it up.

Your Quest on Finding A Vintage Safety Razor

If you are like me, finding a good and clean vintage safety razor is a dream come true. That is a true treasure that we love to collect.

I am fairly new to traditional wet shaving. I was given a 1920s Gillette Open Comb safety razor. I love it so much that I grew a new hobby. Collecting vintage safety razors. I love how they look, how they feel, and how they perform.

I started haunting eBay for these vintage safety razors. eBay provides tons of these beautiful babies. Some are good and clean but most of them are in bad conditions.

You have to look closely for any flaws if you are shopping at the bay.  Most of the sellers are just selling the items. They do not know what the condition of the razors is. They often say “The pictures will talk for themselves. Ask me any questions for more information”. That is just another word for I don’t know anything about this item. The risk will be yours if you failed to notice any problems.

I did that, though. In my newly adopted hobby and zealous, I rushed my buying. I bought too many and did not inspect them close enough. I hope you did not do what I do.how to clean vintage safety razors

I hope I can hold and look closely to the razors that I’m going to buy. That way I can see if the mechanics still works or if the plating is still good. Most of the old razors are prone to have rust. Rust can happen if the plating is lost.

My first batch of eBay vintage safety razors lot is amazing. Amazing in its variety. I bought Gillette vintage safety razors, GEM vintage single edge razors, vintage Micromatic, one Schick safety razor and a vintage Valet Auto Strop razor.

That’s a lot of vintage razors. Sadly, I cannot see the damages they have sustained from the pictures shown by the seller. He was actually kind enough and communicates really well. It was me. It was my excitement that blinded me. I did not ask for details and did not ask the right questions.

The condition when they arrived was horrible. Some have rust and most of them still have soap scum on them. One razor is badly worn. There is no plating at all. It was stated in the description by the seller but I overlooked it. It might be good, though, because now I can plate it new. I imagined of plating it with a rhodium.

Now come the hardest part. Cleaning all of them.

How to Clean A Vintage Safety Razor

The first step is to clean the soap residue left behind million years ago by the previous users. The soap scum really built up inside some of the razors.

All you need is a soft toothbrush, a dishwasher soap, and really hot water.

Use mild dishwasher soap. But generally, all dishwasher soap is considered mild. I covered all the razors with the dishwasher soap and gave a good rubbing. Rubbing, not scratching. You do not want to scratch the plating. (Even though old razors tend to have a lot of scratches).

I use boiling water.  Do not boil the razors. Do not put them on fire. Some razors have plastic parts. You do not want to melt the plastic away. That is why I used boiling water. Actually, I let the water sit for a minute to cool it off a bit. Then I poured them on the dishwasher-soap-covered razors. I let them sit for half hour.

Then while the water is still warm, I scrubbed them with a soft toothbrush. A used toothbrush will have soft brittles. In this part, you will have to dip and scrub over and over again. The warm soapy water will help a lot in removing the old scum.

If you see stubborn soap scum, you need to do the process again. You might even have to do it two more times. Hot water, soap, and a toothbrush will do most of the job. To clean a vintage safety razor is not that difficult.

The second step is to polish them

You may want to polish them to bring their shine back from the past. Be careful on what polish that you use. Polish are harsh. They may cut your plating away.

People in the shaving forums recommend Maas Metal Polish, Wenol Metal Polish, Meguairs and Turtle Polish. Read the labels. Some ingredients of the polish might not suitable for your skin. It can cause irritation.

Of all the polish, Maas Metal Polish is mentioned repeatedly. When you polish, remember to use a light stroke. You really need to be careful of the plating.

The third step is to sanitize them

Old razors certainly can accumulate bacteria or other harmful substances over the years.

People love using Barbicide to disinfect their razors. You just put them in and soak them for killing all the germs. Read the instructions on how to use it. I prefer using alcohol as it is readily available in my home. All the germs will be killed by now.  If they survived boiling water repeatedly and still survived after the sanitizing process, I think they should stay alive. 😀

The fourth step is to enjoy your “new” razor.

Now that you have finished all the cleaning process, you just need to enjoy them. Use your “new” razors or just put them on the display. The clean vintage safety razor!

Remember to store them in a dry place to avoid unnecessary rust. I know that bathroom is humid and full of moisture. You just need to make sure you dry them off before storing.

Do you need any more help on how to clean a vintage safety razor? Leave the questions below and I will answer them as soon as I can.

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11 Replies to “How to clean a vintage safety razor”

  1. Thanks for the tips about buying these razors too Arief. I never thought that was what they meant when they say ask for more information! I wouldn’t want to buy a razor and have to then like refurbish and clean it. But thank you for all this valuable information on cleaning vintage safety razors.

    1. You have not fallen in love with these razors, yet, Lynne. When you do, you will want to collect all of them.
      There is something about shaving and having the right gear or gears. 😀

  2. Very interesting article!

    I never thought that someone would want to buy and clean someone elses old used razor, but I can otherwise now. You did a great job explaining in detail all of the steps to clean these vintage razors.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. LOL. It is because there are too few modern razors that can outperform the vintage safety razors. There are actually huge communities that will grab old razors like mine in an instant. Forums like badgerandblade.com, theshaveden.com, and theshavingroom.co.uk are to name the few.

  3. I love that picture of your collection. What an interesting thing to collect. That’s great you even found one with original packaging. This is great info and I love the care you take in getting these in the best possible shape.

  4. Hi Arief!

    Good article about things that every gentleman should know about :). Are you collecting these razors as an investment? Meaning that you think the razors will go up in collectors value.

    Or is it a hobby? Anyway it’s a really cool way to spend your money. I might have to get some as well.

    Marcus

  5. Well I learnt something new today, that’s for sure. This is interesting, it never occurred to me that this is something people would like to do, but I can see how it becomes a hobby and can feel good to restore something as close to its original condition as possible. Thanks for all the information.

    1. You definitely going to learn something every day. Yes. It is a hobby that will satisfy people. I am one of them. Now that I have a bunch of the razors, I am reluctant to let any of them go. But I have to. I have too many now.

    1. Hi Alex,

      You take a bit of Maas Metal Polish and rub gently on your vintage safety razor. Rub it with a circular motion. The direction on how to use Maas Polish should be on the label.

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