How to Clean and Polish Your Safety Razor: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Clean and Polish Your Safety Razor: A Comprehensive Guide

In this guide, we'll cover the necessary steps and materials needed to clean and polish your safety razor effectively.

Keeping your safety razor clean and polished is essential for maintaining its longevity, ensuring a comfortable shave, close shave and a germ free, hygienic shave. Whether your razor is made from high-quality 316L stainless steel, titanium, copper, brass or an exotic material like mokume, proper maintenance can prevent skin irritation, reduce razor burn, reduce infections and keep your shaving tool looking pristine. 

Cleaning, polishing and maintaining your high-quality 316L stainless steel, titanium, brass or copper safety razor is not as daunting as it sounds, if you know what to do.

Materials Needed for Cleaning and Polishing

    1. Toothbrush or Denture Brush: Preferably with longer bristles and a small detail brush for hard-to-reach areas.
      Small brushes for cleaning and polishing a safety razor or shaver
    2. Nail Brush: Double-sided with plastic bristles for gentle cleaning. The Short bristles are good for cleaning knurling. The long stiffer bristles work well under the cap. We recommend plastic bristles as they are less inclined to scratch the surface. A boar brush will also work but the bristles are a little more aggressive, expensive and will wear quicker.Nail brush used to clean and polish a single edge razor or DE safety razor
    3. Balsa Wood: Ideal for cleaning intricate parts without scratching. You can pick these up at a hobby or hardware store. This is a very soft wood and will help clean hard-to-reach areas like under the cap and threads with out scratching the metal surface. Birch wood is another harder alternative.Balsa wood used to clean and polish a safety razor - soft wood
    4. Soft Microfiber Cloth: Use a less fluffy one for polishing your single edge or double edge safety razor and a softer one for the final buff.Soft microfiber towel used to clean and polish a safety razor
    5. Hot Water: For soaking and rinsing.
    6. Dish Soap: Effective for degreasing and removing stuck-on shaving soap.
    7. Isopropyl Alcohol: Great for killing germs and bacteria on your safety razor and cleaning off oil and fingerprints.
    8. Polish #1 (Cape Cod or NEVR-Dull): A gentle polish for a final finish.
    9. Polish #2 (Simichrome): A slightly more aggressive polish.
      Best polish for a safety razor and DE razor

        Optional Equipment:

        • Barbaside: Sterilizing solution used in barbershops instead of alcohol.
        • Sonic Cleaner: Useful for cleaning jewelry and razors, safety razors and single edge shavers. Your spouse will approve...
        • Jewelry Steam Cleaner: High-pressure steam cleaner for thorough cleaning without chemicals. Also great for cleaning jewelry.

        These tools can be bought online for +/-$80.

        Cleaning Your Stainless Steel or Titanium Safety Razor

        If you haven't cleaned your razor in a while, it might be caked with soap. Follow these steps for a thorough cleaning:

        1. Soak in Soapy Water: In three small cups, mix hot water with a few drops of dish soap. Place each part of the razor in separate cups to avoid metal to metal contact (scratches). Use a plastic or glass container, metal will scratch your parts.
        2. Scrub Gently: Once the water is cool enough to touch, use a toothbrush or denture brush to scrub off soap scum. Repeat if necessary. If you have a “Machine Finish” or a “Bead Blasted finish”, you will need to scrub more...a rough surface will collect more dirt and bacteria at a at a macro and micro level.
        3. Rinse with clean water and use a soft synthetic micro fiber to dry. A paper towel will actually scratch a mirror polish.
        4. Soak in Alcohol: After cleaning, soak the parts in isopropyl alcohol or Barbaside to disinfect.
        Safety razor cleaning - All the holes on our web plate are "Through-holes", no dead end holes for easy cleaning, flow of water, debri and air flow
        (Picture: All the holes on our web plate are "Through-holes", no dead end holes for easy cleaning, flow of water, debri and air)

        One key design element, from a cleaning perspective, about our safety razors is our high polished finish. A polished finish has many benefits including 1) The smooth surface has fewer cracks and crevices for debris and bacteria to collect, making cleaning the surface easier 2) A polished surface is less likely to corrode 3) A polished surface is slicker on the face 4) Aesthetics…nothing like a bright high-polish finish. I talk in detail about surface finishes in this blog.

        Another design consideration in our Cx models , from a cleaning perspective, is we have no dead-end holes(except the handle) where shaving debris will collect. All our holes are “through-holes” including our web plate which allows for the free flow of debris and water. If you are cleaning other razors, use the balsa wood, a soft wooden skewer or a Q Tip to get into these areas.

        You might still have rust stains at this point from the blades rusting. If your razor is made from 303 or 304 stainless want to remove these rust stains, this rust can spread and cause "pitting" on the surface, if your razor is made from 316L(polished) or titanium you don't need to worry but should clean it for hygienic reasons.

        Polishing Your Stainless or Titanium Safety Razor

        To maintain a high-polish finish, follow these steps:

        1. Base Plate: Use polish #1 and a microfiber cloth. Apply polish, wipe, and buff without letting the polish dry.
        2. Cap: Polish under the cap first using Polish #1 and a small piece of balsa wood for detailed areas.
        3. Handle: Use a nail brush to clean knurling with polish, then buff with a microfiber cloth.

        If deeper scratches remain, use polish #2 and then repeat the process again with polish #1 for a smooth final finish.

        Highly reflective mirror finish of the top cap surface for the double edge safety razor - enhanced corrosion resistance reduces bacteria collection and easy to clean - Stainless steel safety razor or shaver for traditional wetshaving. Irritation free, reduce razor burn and ingrown hairs caused by shaving - Carbon Fiber handle light weight

        (Picture: Highly reflective polish finish on top cap))

        One caveat I should point out is our earlier models were laser "marked" and not laser "engraved". Specifically, 2019-2021 were laser "marked". It is easier to polish off these marks so be careful around these areas during the polishing step. In 2022 we changed to “laser engraving” our serial numbers which are deeper and harder to polish off.

        Polishing Deep Scratches on a Stainless or Titanium Safety Razor

        *WARNING* You run the risk of destroying your finish and ruining critical dimensions if you attempt to remove a deep scratch. You might find having this professionally done or leaving the scratch is the best option.

        To remove deep scratches, follow these steps:

        1. You will need a more aggressive polish or grit to remove the deep scratch. Consider using a "diamond paste"...for hand finishing I would NOT go lower than a +/-10K grit. Use more elbow grease vs a lower grit.
        2. Assuming you were able to remove the scratch with a 10K diamond paste, you now need to use a gradually finer and finer diamond paste to remove the scratches from the prior grit until you reach the level of polish you desire(+50K grit is fairly close to a mirror polish)
        3. Clean your safety razor thoroughly as a final step, including an alcohol bath as some of these diamond pastes are toxic.

        The basics of polishing involve using finer and finer grits to remove the prior grit lines. It really depends on how deep the scratch is, as to where to start. I will advise that it is always better(although more work) to use more effort vs using a more aggressive polishing grit.

        There are no short cuts to polishing a metal surface to a mirror! I have tried cheating with no need to use finer and finer grits all the way to a mirror polish!

        Mirror polish on copper safety razor

        Cleaning Copper or Brass Safety Razors

        Copper and brass are softer metals and require careful handling:

        1. Follow the steps used to clean a stainless steel or titanium DE safety razor above, except more gently!
        2. White Distilled Vinegar Soak: For tarnish removal, soak in vinegar for about 6 minutes. Scrub with a nail brush on knurling and under the cap if needed.
        3. Neutralize with Distilled Water: Soak immediately in distilled water(if adding a patina) to prevent etching. Make sure you gently brush the surface with a toothbrush to remove all traces of vinegar. You will get “pits” if you let the vinegar dry on the surface. You can use tap water but it is more likely to leave watermarks.
        Vinegar to clean copper or brass safety razor - some use ketchup
        (Picture: Both parts had the same patina, the part on the right is the finish after a 6 minute soak in vinegar
        **Caution** Vinegar is an acid and will etch copper if left on the surface for too long. Monitor it closely with a stopwatch. I will use a straight mixture of vinegar for +/-6 minutes, sometime a little longer if badly stained or with knurling. Consider using a mixture of 50% vinegar and 50% distilled water to start for a longer period. Don’t forget about them, set a timer and watch!


        Copper and brass will naturally oxidize and develop a patina depending on the conditions(hard water, salt air, use, etc...) but you can bring it back to a polished state. The tarnishing can remain in the knurling valleys while the smooth surfaces polish up easier to a mirror finish. Part of the enjoyment of your razor, outside of the shave feel, are the aesthetics and your personal choice of how you want it to wear and is up to you. 

        Polishing Copper or Brass Safety DE Razors

        For a high-polish finish, follow these steps after cleaning:

        1. With copper and brass you do not need to apply as much pressure. A Qtip works well for polishing under the cap, balsa wood and Polish #2 can be used for larger scratches
        2. Polish the top of the cap and the base plate using Polish #1(Milder polish) and cloth. Finish with a clean soft microfiber cloth to bring it to a high polish.
        3. Polish the knurling with Polish #2 and use the short bristles of the scrub brush to get into the valleys of the knurling.
        4. After all the polish has been buffed and your piece is shiny, soak and submerge it in alcohol. Wipe gently...

        Brass and Copper material are softer, be careful on the edges!, be careful around the engravings, as you can polish off these markings. Be particularly careful on critical dimensions including the clamp of the head and the safety bar itself.

        These steps can also be used to clean and polish a mokume safety razor.

        Adding Patina to a Brass, Copper or Mokume Safety Razor

        Follow these steps to add a patina:

        1. Rubber gloves – If you are looking to add a patina, you should use a clean pair prior to handling the razor after the alcohol bath, your finger prints can impact the patina. The oil on your skin will cause a patina to develop under the patina you apply.
        2. Instead of a high polish finish, I have had more luck adding a patina with a very fine brushed finish(2-4k grit or finer).
        3. Apply your patina...this is can be a very complex process but I talk about Mokume(brass and copper) patina in more depth here.
        4. Renaissance Wax (optional) – Some folks use this wax to coat copper to prevent tarnishing, a common practice with copper jewellery. I don’t coat my pieces, the coating will extend a polished surface or patina but will dull the finish slightly. I have heard mixed responses on its safety.

        Patina on copper safety razor(4 copper patinas - Left: Vinegar and salt solution, 2nd Left: Vinegar and salt lumps, 2nd right: 1 month natural patina, Right: Polished)

        Some additional tips and tricks on cleaning and polishing your safety razor:

        1. Dremel Tool: Use at the slowest speed, with the mildest polish to start. Be very careful about the polish or “rouge” provided with the kit, it is likely very aggressive.
        2. Be careful when polishing critical dimensions, edges and around engraving, especially with copper, brass or Mokume.
        3. Keep your polishing wood and polishing rags separate by the polish type. Don’t use the same cloth you used with Polish #1 and Polish #2. Use 2 different cloths…this is especially important when using diamond paste.
        4. Some folks recommend using ketchup(tomato sauce) or lemon juice and salt instead of white distilled vinegar to clean their copper or brass safety razor. They are all mild acids, just be careful as they will etch and/or pit the surface if you let it soak for too long.
        5. Don’t use the same polishing tools on copper and stainless steel, especially if you polished a razor made from grade 303 or 304 stainless steel. The steel residue can rust on your copper!
        6. Don’t use a steel brush or steel wool pad...please don’t!! The high carbon steel will contaminate the surface of brass, copper, mokume, titanium and stainless!
        7. I generally recommend letting your copper and brass razors develop a natural patina as forced patinas can be a lot of work to remove. I have destroyed a lot of safety razors exploring this, so if you are unsure...stay with a polished/natural finish. Consider experimenting on scrap copper…
        8. Brass doesn’t develop a patina as quick as copper. 316L stainless steel and titanium will not hold a patina.
        9. Most patinas are not durable and will change, age and wear. It is one of the beautiful characteristics about brass and copper DE safety razors.
        10. You should NOT polish Damtanium or titanium Damascus as you will eventually remove the anodizing colors. A cleaning and alcohol wipe is a better solution.
        11. A sonic clean and a steam cleaner works magic for stainless steel Damascus...most local jewelers will clean your Damascus razor. Very satisfying to watch!
        12. I would not recommend polishing a plated razor, however the above tips will work for cleaning a chrome shaver or cleaning a vintage plated safety razor!
        13. An antique finish on a bronze safety razor will require similar patina prep.


        Proper maintenance of your safety razor not only enhances its appearance but also ensures a healthier shaving experience. Share your cleaning tips and tricks in the comments below, and feel free to reach out for personalized advice!

          Misc. At CarbonShavingCo notes: Wet shaving is a bit of an art form. It is personal to your skin type, which dictates the type of soap and shaving brush you will be using. Opting between a straight razor or safety razor (disposable razors won't be the best of experiences at all). The use of some hot water to open up your pores and soften the facial hair is a good thing. When it comes to skin conditions, such as sensitive skin, razor bumps, and at times hair growth in multiple directions extra care and consideration must be taken and avoid razor burn caused by dry shaving, lack of lubrication, wrong direction, ingrown hairs, etc. At CarbonShavingCo, the construction of our razors aims to be bacteria-free as much as possible to help avoid allergic reactions by being polished with easy to clean surface, the design maximizes the flow of debris, the pinch design reduces gaps for the collection of debris and germs, we aim to help people with sensitive skin and prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. We believe that wet shaving is the best approach with a good shaving soap as opposed to using men's disposable razors. This also applies to safety razors for women. Keeping your gear clean is so important if you are sensitive. Join the community of wet shavers today to learn more so you can enjoy your personal spa experience.

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