Friday, January 23, 2015

The Obsessive Shaver: Periodic Maintenance of Chrome-Plated Razors

Some users of chrome-plated razors such as my Merkur products 33C (Classic), 15C (open comb), and 37C (slant bar) develop problems with flaking chrome over time.

Admittedly a minority of chromed-razor users experience this problem, but it does exist. I have read that the Merkur customer support staff offers little solace to customers when this happens, blaming hard, calciferous water and not following Merkur's recommended maintenance steps.

Merkur recommends:

  • Cleaning with a soft nail brush or toothbrush the moving parts of the razor after each shave to thoroughly remove soap residue
  • Regularly (depending on how hard the water is) put the razor parts in a diluted decalcifying solution for 15 to 30 minutes (not more), removing the parts every few minutes (presumably to check if they are decalcified)

Here's what I now do because I'm a bit obsessive about care of my tools:
  • When I first get a razor, I actually wax it with a durable polymeric auto wax. (I use a brand that recommends its use only once per year on a car.) I then would re-wax the razor about once a year.
  • I actually disassemble my two- or three-piece razors after each shave, then....
  • I rinse the blade in water, and gently press (not wipe) the blade dry with a square of TP on top, a washcloth underneath; then I flip the blade and repeat
  • I rinse the razor parts, then dry thoroughly with the same TP square
  • Then I reassemble the clean and dry razor for the next shave

I believe that I will never have chrome-flaking problems following these steps. I also believe that my gentle care of my blades contributes to their trouble-free longevity; I easily get seven shaves from each blade (I shave every day), then replace the blade every Sunday morning to keep the bookkeeping simple.

However, if one is not as obsessive about tool maintenance as I am, one might follow these steps for relatively trouble-free razor life:
  • Wax a new razor with a durable auto wax when new and once a year thereafter.
  • Daily, rinse the razor clean in water, shake it out, also perhaps blow out as much moisture as possible, and then set out to dry in the open air.
  • When it's time to change the blade, thoroughly clean and dry the razor using a soft toothbrush or equivalent. Then insert the new blade.

Your thoughts?

Happy shaving!


  1. Is that auto wax safe?

    Also, many of us dunk razors and blades in 90% isopropyl alcohol after each shave to facilitate rapid drying and dissolve soap scum, blade wax, and such.

    1. Shawn, thanks for your comment. If by auto wax being safe you mean not a health hazard via absorption through the skin, then I would suggest yes: safe. This auto wax is applied, then dries to a haze, then is buffed off -- just like on the car. The protective residue is, when dry, a hard polymeric coating that can resist rain, salt, abrasion from road grit, etc. It is unlikely, in my estimation, to be rubbed off during the act of shaving. But if so, how much? A molecule or two -- which is then scraped or rinsed off the skin? (I wouldn't drink the liquid wax, though. ;-) I think there's more health risk to using a plastic bottled-water bottle, any plastic athletic water bottle, or consuming canned food.
      The alcohol dunk isn't probably bad, but I have two personal issues with it: 1) I don't like dunking razors in solvents like alcohol, or protectants like mineral oil because they can get knocked over or drip -- generally a messy accident waiting to happen. 2) They might dissolve and thereby remove the protective polymeric wax coating which I have applied in the first place to eliminate the need for a razor submersion.

  2. Good article. I have never tried an auto polish before, but may give it a go. It's amazing what a little preventative maintenance can do.