How To Clean Hair Clippers: The Ultimate Guide
So, you’ve finally made the leap. You’re own barber now and you can do quite the neat haircut by yourself, at home. You’re saving money, learning a new skill, life is good.
Then one day, you wake up to a harsh realization: your clippers just don’t cut well.
Instead, they snag hair or leave your skin irritated. You can feel the motor getting weaker. Something’s clearly not alright.
Alright. Did you forget to clean them properly?
How to clean hair clippers:
introducing the basics
Your hair clippers aren’t a toothbrush. You can’t just throw them in a box after you’ve finished cutting your hair. Though I understand you, I did the same with my first set of hair clippers.
Things are different with my current Super Taper:
Anyways, there’s three essential things you want to do as clipper maintenance:
- Clean leftover hairs with the small cleaning brush you’ll receive with your clipper. Frequency: Before and after every haircut.
- Put some oil on the blades after you’re finished with your haircut. Frequency: every 1-2 times.
Disassemble the clipper parts to properly clean the inside too. Frequency: depends on usage/hair types.
Does cleaning my clipper blades matter so much?
You can bet. Blades clogged by leftover hair or blades that haven’t been oiled for long will eventually get duller and duller. They won’t cut properly and you’ll get painful, patchy haircuts.
In addition, if you don’t clean them frequently, they’ll also get dirty. This will cause skin irritation (red spots, bumps) and might even infect your skin.
As a professional, there is no excuse for having a dirty shop or equipment. If your clients are getting rashes from your tools, then you may as well hang up your apron and go do another line of work. This may sound harsh, but it is the truth.
If you are giving people skin conditions, then your business won’t last long and you are costing yourself money. With the internet, there is nowhere to hide if people are unhappy. They can put a post up on social media and that is the end of your livelihood.
In other words, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by just taking care of them.
You’re also extending the life of your tools so you can save money and be more profitable in the long run. Dull blades slow down and cause the motor to have to work harder. Eventually the motor will break down from too much of a strain for too long.
Clean blades run smoothly and allow the motor to run without any friction slowing it down.
You may not feel like it, but making a routine of good cleaning practices will only add a few seconds to each haircut and will pay for itself with long lasting equipment. It will become second nature over time anyway.
You have two approaches on how to clean hair clippers. You can use a special blade wash to guarantee their cleanliness. Or, if you prefer, you can go for the DIY home solutions.
Disinfecting/Cleaning clipper blades with blade wash
There’s three things you should look for in a blade wash solution – a product that can properly clean the blade, disinfect it, and lastly, lubricate it.
Good news: leading clipper brands produce their own blade washes. The most popular one is Andis Cool Care from Amazon.com, but Oster have their Kool-Lube from Amazon.com (also serving as a lubricant) too.
Just spray these on your clippers (regulate your doses according to the instructions!) and you’re done. Quite easy as a procedure.
Note: You can safely use Andis cooling products with Wahl clippers, Oster sprays with Andis clippers etc.
Any respectable blade wash will clean your hair clipper blades by:
- Cooling them
- Disinfecting them, in other words, killing bacteria and germs
- Eliminating unpleasant odors
- Protecting them from mold or mildew
- Prevent rusting
Cleaning clipper blades with distilled white vinegar
If you want to skip on purchasing an additional product, you can achieve similar results with a well-known household helper.
Yes, it’s the good ol’ distilled white vinegar.
Who hasn’t used it for cleaning the insides of their fridge, washing machine or microwave? It only makes sense you can trust white vinegar on helping you clean your hair clippers too.
White vinegar is pretty cheap and, being an acidic solution, will combat mold and bacteria properly. It’s 100% non-toxic and will refresh your hair clipper blades by killing dirt and any grime they might have accumulated.
Make sure that you allow your blades or other tools to properly dry before putting them away. Vinegar solutions can dry quickly, but you still need them to be dry before you add any oil or store them in your cabinet to avoid any rusting or corrosion
That said, blade washes are professional products. They have a stronger, long-lasting effect.
I’d recommend you use one of them, but ultimately, it’s up to you. If you don’t use your hair cutting machine that much, white vinegar will do just fine.
How to clean hair clippers at home:
Step by step guide
Clipper cleaning is a pretty easy task that won’t take much of your time. All in all, it can be divided into five stages, no matter if you go with the blade wash or white vinegar/home solutions. Let me guide you through quickly.
Remove the batteries & unplug the clipper
The first thing you want to do is remove your hair cutting machine’s batteries. Also, please make sure that your clipper’s unplugged.
Get rid of any hair & open the machine
Next, you want to get rid of all the hair that has accumulated. You might be surprised how many of it can be found in seemingly impossible places.
The usual suspect is hair latched onto the blades themselves. Many clippers come with small brushes when you buy them, so use these. If you don’t have one, gently bump the clipper and shake it a little.
I like using a can of compressed air like you use to clean your computer or keyboard. It may make a bit of a mess with hair flying out of it, but I feel like it does a thorough job and only takes a second or two to get the job done.
You want to remove the blades and other parts so you can clean them properly. It’s easy – just use a screwdriver (flat head) and open the clipper.
The blade will pop out and you’ll detach it without too much effort. Get some brushing action there too. Keep in mind that different hair clipper models might disassemble in different ways.
Protip: For Oster 76 owners, we have an in-depth guide on Oster blade maintenance.
Let the parts soak & clean them
It’s time for the big moment: the actual cleaning. If you’re using a blade wash like Andis Blade Care Plus on Amazon.com, you can first let the blades and head soak in warm water for a bit.
After a few minutes, take them out and lightly apply some of the blade solution.
If you’re going the distilled white vinegar route, mix some of it with water (50:50 ratio). Then, let the blades and head soak in this mixture for a while.
There’s no magical “time frame” here, but leave them for 20 minutes to half an hour so they soak properly.
Afterwards, start rinsing them and gently clean with a soft cloth.
Let your hair clipper parts dry out a bit
This step is especially important if you opted to try out the white vinegar and water method. You should let every part you cleaned air dry properly. Preferably, you’d want to place them on a clean, soft towel.
Drying might take anywhere from half an hour to an hour usually – less if you decided to go with the blade wash.
You’re good to go!
Finished! Wasn’t that hard, right? Now all you need to remember is how to clean hair clippers often enough.
Tips when you oil your clipper blades
As I mentioned, oiling your clippers will make it or break it. Failing to oil them properly will reduce their lifespan and swarm you with hair cutting headaches.
This is especially true for heavy-duty, professional clippers. Some models like the Remington HC4250 won’t require regular oiling, but these are rare cases.
Luckily, oiling clippers is as ridiculously easy as the cleaning process I described beforehand. All in all, you only need to:
Make sure both your hair clipper blades and head are dry. Clean any leftover hair.
Tilt the clipper downward, the flat part of the head being away from you. You might want to stand over a sink so oil doesn’t drip down on clean surfaces.
Turn it on and start oiling the clippers! Apply some drops of oil, spreading across the top of the blades. Take care that there’s no oil going back inside. Any excess drops after you finished oiling your clippers? Fetch some paper and dab them.
General tips on hair clipper maintenance
While clipper maintenance isn’t rocket science, there are a few essential things to look out for.
Failing to observe them might affect your hair cutting machine’s health and the quality of your haircuts.
- Always make sure you’ve reassembled the blades and head properly! Your blades should be both properly aligned and tightened closely.
- Don’t look for easy substitutes when it comes to oiling your blades. Using any other type of oil may compromise your hair cutter’s functioning or even damage it irreversibly. Stick to the approved quality of branded electric clipper oil products like Wahl’s.
- Don’t use too much electric clipper oil! You want a few drops, not to drown your blades and ruin them!
- Clean your hair clippers frequently. It really depends on how often you cut your hair, but once per week/once every three to four uses is what I recommend.
- Remember to use a gentle brush. You can either use a toothbrush or simply fetch a dedicated cleaning brush like Andis blade brush from Amazon.com. Keep in mind clipper cleaning brushes tend to be on the small side. If you need something bigger, a toothbrush is your best friend.
Frequently recommended products
You’ll usually receive a small cleaning brush and a small tube of clipper oil with most hair clippers you purchase. Needless to say, the oil will get depleted at some point.
Here are some popular/high quality products to ensure proper clipper maintenance/blade sharpness over time.
Oil: Clipper oil is interchangeable among clippers. I recommend you to get Wahl’s clipper oil from Amazon.com for best results.
Cooling sprays/disinfection: I use Andis Cool Care from Amazon.com as it’s an all-in-1 solution. Not only does it clean and disinfect, it also lubricates and cools off blades. To top it off, it acts as an anti-rusting agent.