Solid hair clipper maintenance is essential not only for your clippers’ performance and longevity but also for the person’s health and safety at the receiving end of the blade.
To keep the blades in top shape, you should know how to clean and sharpen hair clipper blades, whether it’s for repeated use throughout a workday at the barbershop or infrequent personal use at home.
Why Clean Hair Clippers
Cleaning your hair clippers after use is critical to extending the blade’s lifetime and sustaining its efficiency. Without this maintenance step, your clippers will essentially become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, which will pose a risk to you or your clients’ health.
Allowing too much hair and dead skin to build up in the device’s crevices will gradually dull the blades and impair the motor’s operation. These issues can reduce your clippers’ efficiency, resulting in a patchy cut and possible skin irritation.
People often believe that a quick rinse of hot water will suffice for getting their clippers back in top shape. While this can help clear your blade of accumulated hair and ready it for back-to-back personal use in a single sitting, hot water rinses are insufficient for a thorough cleaning.
Instead, you’ll need to fully sterilize your blades to protect yourself and others from infections such as folliculitis and “barber’s itch“. Fortunately, it’s very easy to clean your blades, as it requires just a few tools and relatively little time, whether you’re doing an in-depth cleaning or sprucing up your blades between clients.
Cleaning Clippers Between Clients
Professional barbers need to maintain hygienic tools for each of their clients throughout the day. This type of quick, repetitive cleaning requires only the following essentials:
- A towel
- Brush (e.g., spare toothbrush or color brush)
- Cool Care or similar all-in-one disinfectant product
Now that you have the appropriate tools, follow the steps below to clean your hair clippers:
1. Place the guard in the closed position and verify that the clippers are off.
2. Using your toothbrush or color brush and starting from the guard’s base, dislodge the hair from the blades with a sweeping motion out and away from the clippers. Avoid brushing from side to side. This can dull the blades over time.
3. With the same motion, brush the guard’s side to get rid of any hair stuck in these crevices.
4. Spray a generous helping of Cool Care or disinfectant of choice onto your blades.
5. Turn the blades on briefly. This will allow the product to access the hard-to-reach areas and perform its lubricating function as well.
6. Go over the sprayed area with a clean towel, removing any particles that may have been left behind in the first few steps. Make sure to get rid of any remaining excess product to keep your client’s head clean.
Although this method is highly efficient, quick cleaning doesn’t always do the job. When your clippers need a bit more TLC, you need to know how to perform a deep clean to address anything the above steps may have missed.
How to Deep Clean Hair Clippers
Whether you’re cutting in a shop or at home, you should regularly sterilize your clippers. Fortunately, this job isn’t too demanding. In fact, you can deep clean your clippers using just a few household items.
For a more careful, attentive hair clipper cleaning, you’ll need:
- Rubbing alcohol
- A small bowl or another dish that can hold liquid
- Toothbrush or color brush
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools, follow the steps below to deep clean your hair clippers:
- Fill the bowl with rubbing alcohol until it reaches ¼” depth.
- Using the brushing motion described in the previous section, dislodge the hair from the clippers’ blades and crevices.
- Dip the blades in the rubbing alcohol.
- Make sure the blades are still attached to the unit. Otherwise, you will be unable to complete the next step. Be very careful not to get anything other than the blades in the alcohol.
- Power on the clippers. Let them run for 10-30 seconds.
- Repeat steps 2-4 until the alcohol in the bowl is completely clean, even after you run the blades.
- Gently wipe the blades down with your towel, then allow them to air-dry.
- Lubricate the blades.
Along with keeping your clippers spick-and-span, you’ll also need to make sure they stay at their sharpest to maintain the best possible performance.
Keeping Your Hair Clippers Sharp
Another critical facet of basic hair clipper maintenance is ensuring that your blades remain as sharp as possible. This ensures that your clippers will operate smoothly with each cut, preventing any of the previously mentioned issues that arise from the use of dull blades.
The only thing you’ll need to sharpen your clipper blades is a 4000 grit whetstone, also known as a “sharpening stone“. You can pick these up at nearly any home improvement shop. With this tool, you can follow the simple steps below to maintain your blade’s sharpness:
- Detach the blades from the clippers.
- Optional: Apply sharpening oil to the stone’s surface.
- Place the blade flat against the stone and move it side-to-side for about ten strokes. *
- Check the blade’s sharpness and repeat step three to your satisfaction. Reapply the oil as needed.
Note that some people prefer to sharpen their blades at an angle, specifically between 30-45°. Although the majority believe the blade should be positioned flat against the stone, you may want to experiment with these angles to see which works best for you.
Safe Operation to Support Good Hair Clipper Maintenance
Remember that part of good hair clipper maintenance is using your blades according to their functional limits. With this in mind, it’s best to avoid the following actions for safe operation:
- Cutting long hair “against the grain” (in the opposite direction in which it grows). This can lead to severe entanglement.
- Trying to cut too fast, causes the hair to tear as the blades cannot properly cut the strands as it passes through.
Steering clear of these behaviors while cutting your or others’ hair will ensure that your hair clippers will remain in top shape for as long as possible.
Proper hair clipper maintenance is not a one-and-done job. On the contrary, it is a continuous act of being attentive and mindful of your unit, its performance, and cleanliness. Using this guide, you can ensure that your clippers remain in excellent working condition for as long as possible.