Cleaning Vintage Safety Razors
Collecting vintage safety razors has been a hobby of mine for many years, but as well as collecting them – cleaning them has definitely become an obsession of mine! This guide will show you the method I use for cleaning vintage safety razors.
When you buy vintage safety razors they tend to be very dirty and worn, unless you’re lucky to get an unused one that has been kept somewhere dry and safe or if you buy one that has already been ‘restored’.
There’s nothing I like better than going to a local antique store, picking up a dirty old safety razor, cleaning the vintage safety razor and making it look new again. There’s a big feeling of satisfaction there.
I made this guide to help people who are new to cleaning vintage safety razors and to hopefully pass on some good tips I have learned over the years.
In this guide I am going to be cleaning a vintage Gillette Rocket HD safety razor that I picked up locally. It looks to be in good condition with no plate loss, it just needs a good clean and shine.
- Bowl / tub to put razor in
- Dish soap / washing up liquid
- Whitening toothpaste
- Cotton buds
- Mild metal polish
- Some kind of polishing cloth – I use an old t-shirt!
Cleaning Vintage Safety Razors – Step 1: Soak
The very first step is to put the razor in a bowl and pour boiling water over it until the water covers all the razor. Then you add some dish detergent (washing up liquid for us UK people) and mix it with something like a toothbrush so the soap suds froth up.
For TTO (turn to open) razors like this one, soak them whilst they are fully opened to let the soapy water get into the mechanism.
Let the razor soak until the water gets luke warm.
Step 2: Scrub
Scrub the razor with a soft toothbrush with the remaining soapy water. Try and get into all the nook and crannies. This will remove most of the dirt / soap scum. If there is still soap scum left after this or other dirt, then repeat the soaking process.
You may have to do this several times with really dirty razors, which is a simple trick a lot of people don’t do when cleaning vintage safety razors – but it will be worth it in the end.
Step 3: Toothpaste
Toothpaste can be used as a very mild polish. Try and get the whitening kind with micro crystals. Squeeze some toothpaste out and rub it all over the razor. Then use a toothbrush to scrub it – dip the toothbrush in water slightly so the toothpaste froths up, this will also help remove any left over stubborn dirt in hard to reach areas. Do this for several minutes and then rinse the razor off in the water. Again, you may wish to repeat this step.
The razor should be looking much shinier now and for most people this will probably be enough. However, I like to get that luscious deep shine!
Step 4: Polish (optional)
To get that lovely deep shine on the vintage razor I like to use a mild metal polish. I personally use Maas, but I have also used Autosol and Silvo with similar results. If you are going to use something like Silvo, then just go very gently with the rubbing as you could accidentally remove some of the plating.
If I was using Maas, I would squirt a small pea size out and using my fingers rub it all over the area of the razor I wish to polish. Then get a polishing cloth (I normally use an old t-shirt!) and buff off the polish. Keep buffing until you see a lovely shine. You may have to do this several times to see a big improvement.
A tip that I have picked up is for razors with fiddly bits or knurling on the handle, I like to apply and also buff off the polish with a dry toothbrush. When buffing off, keep rinsing out the toothbrush, drying it and carry on. You can always finish buffing with a cloth.
For hard to reach areas use a cotton bud to apply/buff the polish.
Step 5: Re-visit toothpaste
To finish any polishing off, I soak the razor in hot water with dish soap again and then scrub it with toothpaste again. I have found this brings out the best of the polishing you just did. Once scrubbed, rinse with clean water and then let it air dry.
So after much hard work the result is definitely worth it.
I hope this helps other people out there!