Owning your own hair clippers can save you a lot of time and money, compared to constantly visiting the barbers.
But you need to keep them clean if you want them to last and to keep working as they should.
In this guide I’ll explain:
- The best ways to clean your hair clippers
- How to oil your clipper blades
- Alternative products you can use
- How frequently you need to clean the clippers
The best cleaning products are blade dips that clean and sanitize clippers, in conjunction with a brush or air spray. However, this can be costly and time-consuming. The frequency of cleaning your clipper blades will vary depending on how often you use them, too.
Methods for cleaning hair clippers
There are two main options when it comes to cleaning your hair clippers:
- A blade care dip
- A blade-cleaning spray
Let’s look at them all in a bit more detail.
How to clean clippers using blade care dip
What you’ll need
- A soft cleaning brush or an old soft toothbrush
- Blade cleaning dip solution
- A shallow bowl
- A screwdriver (optional for a deep clean)
You need to decide whether you want to do a really deep clean or not.
A deep clean involves dismantling the clippers and letting the blades sit in the cleaning dip solution for around 15 minutes, before drip-drying and reassembling.
You don’t have to do this, but it will do a much more thorough job. Perhaps consider doing this once every four times you clean the blades, if you are pushed for time.
For a quick clean, here are the steps to follow:
Use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to dislodge and remove any hairs caught up in the clippers. Work for a couple of minutes to get as many hairs out as you can.
Prepare a shallow bowl with the cleaning dip solution, following the specific brand’s instructions for dilution if necessary.
Dip the clipper blades only into the solution, slightly submerging them, and turn them on. This will naturally aggravate the solution, cleaning and lubricating the blades.
Remove the blades, keeping them upright, and tilt them slightly to drain off the solution.
If they still look dirty, repeat steps 3 & 4 a couple more times.
Using a blade-cleaning dip is one of the best options because it will clean, disinfect, and lubricate your blades all in one go.
However, if you don’t disassemble the blades for a thorough clean, you can be left with debris/hair still stuck between the blades. It’s not the cheapest option, either, since you’re always having to use a fresh batch of cleaning dip. If you clean the blades regularly, you’ll work through one bottle/tub fairly quickly.
One of the best hair clipper cleaners you can buy is H-42 Clean Clippers:
H-42 Clean Clippers Blade Cleaner
- Protects, cleans, and lubricates blades
- Kills odor-causing bacteria
- Virucidal & anti-bacterial
It’s exceptionally potent and can kill bacteria and viruses, including HIV-1 (the AIDS virus). It’s products like this that are used by professional barbers who use the same clippers on different customers.
If you’ve any recommendations of your own, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
How to clean clippers using blade cleaning spray
What you’ll need
- A soft cleaning brush or an old soft toothbrush
- A blade-cleaning spray
Use the soft brush or old soft toothbrush to gently clear the clippers of any stuck hairs or debris.
Place the clippers onto a surface that you can easily clean (or place down some newspaper you can dispose of later).
Holding the spray a couple of inches from the clippers, spray across the blades.
Pick up the clipper blades and turn them on, and then spray more solution onto the blades while moving.
Leave the blades to dry
Cleaning sprays are also very effective at both cleaning and disinfecting clipper blades, but they’re also pricey. They don’t tend to give as deep a clean as a cleaning dip, either. But they are much faster and easier to use.
Make sure you pick up a sterilizing spray, such as Clippercide:
Some sprays are cleaners only, but sprays like Clippercide are sterilizers too and can kill bacteria and viruses as well as lubricate the blades.
Can you clean clippers using water?
You should avoid using water to clean your clipper blades. Water isn’t going to sterilize the blades at all, and it can cause them to rust extremely quickly – even if you think you dry them thoroughly.
It’s not an instant process, but you can’t see some of the trapped water molecules that will remain behind, and they’ll get to work on oxidizing your blades. Rust’s a nightmare to clean, and it’ll damage the blades when you use them.
Some hair clippers advertise themselves as being rinsable. These can be cleaned with water, by running them under the faucet. This can also eliminate the need to brush them since the running water can remove debris.
It’s still not the best option though because it won’t add any lubrication, nor will it sterilize the blades at all. It’s less hygienic.
Signs your clippers need cleaning
The signs that your hair clipper blades need to be cleaned include:
- Poor performing clippers – getting snagged on your hair, or the blades catching themselves on debris and jumping or getting stuck
- Dirty marks left behind by dirt and tiny hairs once you’ve shaved
- Moldy smells coming from the blades
You shouldn’t wait for these signs to appear though – especially mold, since that’s seriously unhygienic. Aim to clean your clipper blades frequently enough that you never experience these signs.
How to oil blades on hair clippers
Once you’ve cleaned your hair clippers, it’s important to oil them. Even if you’ve used a lubricating cleaner, it won’t be as effective as using proper clipper oil.
Here’s how to lubricate your blades using oil:
- Make sure you’ve cleaned the blades first
- Switch the clippers on, with the blade facing down (so the small moving blade is closer to you, and the metal guard is away from you
- Place 3-4 drops of oil across the moving blades
- If your clippers have a lever, move the level up and down a couple of times, to help spread the oil
- After a few seconds, switch off the blades and use tissue or paper towel to wipe away excess oil
That last step is important, as you don’t want clipper oil to seep into the motor, where it can degrade it. Don’t get into the nooks and crannies of the blades or you’ll wipe away the oil you need – just a quick wipe will remove the extra oil.
Clipper oil alternatives
It’s important not to use thick oil to replace clipper oil, as it will only cause the blades to clog and jam. It can also get into the motor and damage it.
Two good household alternatives to clipper oil are coconut oil and baby oil. These are thin enough to lubricate the blades, though because they’re not machine-grade you should avoid using them long term, as they won’t prevent enough of the friction.
How often should you be oiling clipper blades?
Provided you wipe away any excess, you can’t over-oil your hair clippers. That can get expensive, of course, so instead it’s recommended that you oil them every 3-4 uses at least. The more frequently you use your clippers, the more frequently you’ll want to oil them to prevent them from wearing out too quickly.
If you use your clippers every 6 weeks or so, then oiling them every 4 uses is likely going to be fine. Even if the clippers wear out after, as a random example, 40 uses, that’s still going to be 240 weeks that they last for – almost five years.
But if you use your clippers weekly, you don’t want to buy a new set after 40 weeks. So it’d be more prudent to oil them every couple of uses, which will help to keep them working longer.
What happens if you aren’t oiling hair clippers?
If you don’t oil your hair clippers, the blades will wear down and can start to rub against each other. This friction generates a lot of heat, which in turn causes the blades to wear down even faster. That heat can also transfer to the motor and cause it to break down sooner, too.
Oiling the blades reduces the friction, and therefore the heat, so you keep the blades sharp and the motor running for longer.
Is alcohol good for cleaning clippers?
You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean your hair clippers as an alternative to a blade dip. However, it isn’t ideal – it will clean and sterilize the blades but it won’t lubricate them at all. As long as you’re using a good clipper oil as well, it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue.
Is white vinegar good for cleaning clippers?
White vinegar is another potentially good household option for cleaning clipper blades but it shouldn’t become your regular cleaner. It will clean and sterilize blades well, but the acidity would wear blades down if used over time.
If you’re going to use white vinegar, don’t soak the blades for long periods of time. Dip the clippers into the vinegar while switched on, and then tilt to drip-dry.
Can I use pressurized air to clean my hair clippers?
Pressurized air is an excellent choice for cleaning hair clippers alongside other cleaning agents. Pressurized air canisters are much more effective than using a brush, and can get into the crevices of the clippers too. Of course, you’ll either need a new can every 2-3 cleans, or a pressurized air cleaner tool which can be quite expensive.
Pressurized air won’t clean the blades themselves, but if you use air alongside a blade-cleaning dip, you’ll have the cleanest clippers every time.
You should clean your hair clippers after every 2-3 uses. Ideally, you should give them a deep clean (where you take the clippers apart) every 6 uses or so, to remove all the debris and hairs that have managed to get stuck in the clipper mechanisms.
If you use your clippers infrequently, you should make sure they’re stored in a bag so that dust and other particles in the air can’t get into the motor or blades.
You should avoid using WD40 to clean or lubricate your hair clippers. While it will work well initially, and it is designed as a lubricant, it can also cause other oils to break down. If the WD40 gets into the motor it could cause permanent damage to your hair clippers.
You don’t need to take your hair clippers apart to clean them, but it will let you do a better job. Aim to alternate light cleans and deep cleans – at least one deep clean for every two light cleans that you do.
Hair clippers aren’t hard to disassemble and reassemble, so it’s a good idea to learn how to do it and get into the habit of giving them a good clean regularly.
I know it can be a pain but I’d really recommend cleaning your hair clippers regularly – at least every four times you use them, but preferably more. A good set of clippers is expensive, and you should want to take care of them.
Not only that, but they’ll keep working better for longer too. If you also learn how to sharpen your clipper blades, you’ll be amazed at how well they work for years to come.
If you don’t, you’ll find them really uncomfortable as they start pulling at your hair.
Bonus tip: to protect yourself and your blades, don’t use your clippers on wet hair.
And if you’ve got any other questions about cleaning products, or your own recommendations, please share them in the comments.
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