Orange background featuring an array of barber tools and equipment, such as clippers, spare blades, shears, trimmers, and a brush. The tools are neat and organized, showing proper hair clippers maintenance, how to clean barber clippers, and how to sterilize hair clippers and other tools.

Barber Tools and Equipment Maintenance: How to Clean and Care for Barber Clippers, Shears, and Trimmers

Hair clippers maintenance and barber cleaning supplies may not seem like topics for a barber to “mullet” over. Undoubtedly, learning how to sterilize hair clippers is barber etiquette 101. New barbers learn how to trim hair, and they learn how to properly clean clippers and other tools. Claims from dirty barber clippers don’t happen that often…do they?

On the contrary, clipper care claims do plague the barbering field. Sometimes a client’s complaint stems from poor barber tools and equipment maintenance. Barbers in online forums report knowing people who’ve used bloodstained towels and the same instruments on each client, without replacing or cleaning them in between.

In other cases, a bad reaction has nothing to do with your brushes, razors, shears, scissors, and hair clippers maintenance. Extra sensitive skin, the barber’s own technique, or constant close cutting can irritate clients’ skin, too.

Unfortunately, even if your barber tools and equipment are not at fault, clients can still accuse you of unsanitary practices. Truthful or bogus, accusations of a so-called “dirty” barbershop can tarnish a barber’s reputation for years to come—sometimes beyond repair.

To keep your barbering business safe, we’re reviewing how to clean and care for barber clippers, shears, and trimmers. We’ll answer questions like:

  • What can happen if barbers don’t maintain their instruments?
  • How often should you clean your barber tools?
  • What do barbers use to clean and disinfect their tools?
  • What’s the best way to clean hair clippers? (And how often should you oil your clippers?)
  • How often should you sharpen, clean, and disinfect your shears?
  • Why do barbers wear gloves?
  • How else can you protect yourself from barber equipment claims?

What Can Happen If Barbers Don’t Maintain Their Instruments

Before today’s cleanliness standards, a simple shave could’ve been life threatening.

According to Brett and Kate McKay of the Art of Manliness podcast, several men met untimely deaths from a bad shave, including:

  • John Thoreau (1841): After cutting himself with a razor, he suffered lockjaw and died in the arms of his brother, the famous writer Henry David Thoreau.
  • John Henry Taylor (1911): Suffocated from severe swelling and fluid retention after his barber nicked his neck during a shave.
  • Michael F. Farley (1921): Died after his barber accidentally used a brush contaminated with anthrax.

Luckily, modern grooming practices have made these “hairy” deaths uncommon. Still, poor hair clippers maintenance continues to instigate conflict.

Here’s a very real example from this century. In 2017, a mother rushed her seven-year-old son to a hospital after visiting a local barbershop. At first, the child’s scalp was red and irritated, Dana Griffin writes for KCRA 3 News. But as the days passed, it became itchy, then bloody, then full of pus bubbles, Griffin reported.

The boy had a painful infection known as folliculitis. His mother complained to their state’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and accused the barber of using unclean barber tools and equipment. A similar incident occurred in 2014, when a man sued a barbershop for allegedly cutting him with dirty hair clippers and infecting him with MRSA.

There are plenty more possibilities. According to sources like the Solicitors Guru, not knowing how to sterilize hair clippers and other instruments can cause:

Improper sterilization can also cause dulled blades, meaning more frequent deterioration and replacement of expensive tools.

How to Clean Barber Clippers and Other Instruments

The good news is, knowing how to properly clean barber equipment protects you and your clients from infection and contamination. It also keeps your tools in top shape for longer, which saves you money. Moreover, it keeps you compliant with your local laws and regulations and boosts your professionalism.

Let’s explore some common questions.

1. How often should you clean your barber tools?

How often should you clean and disinfect your shears and other instruments?

Sanitizing, disinfecting, and cleaning barber clippers, trimmers, combs, brushes, etc. happens between EVERY client. (Naturally, if you drop an instrument on the ground, that’s also a good time to clean it.)

The same answer is true when people ask, “How often should you oil your clippers?” Marlo Beauty Supply suggests oiling clippers and trimmers after each use. Sources like the Barber Temple suggest a more intense “deep clean” at least once a week, on top of regular cleanings.

How often should you sharpen, clean, and disinfect your shears? The Taylor Andrews Academy of Hair Design suggests cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day, and oiling daily. In a separate guide, Marlo Beauty Supply recommends sharpening them every six months and testing their tension often.

While cleaning after each use is non-negotiable, oiling regularly might feel like “shear” audacity. But trust us, the habit will “grow” on you.

If you practice hair clippers maintenance routinely, you’ll extend your tools’ useful lifespan, our above sources agree. Taylor Andrews Academy adds that oiling clippers and shears daily prevents rusting, promotes smooth and controlled cuts, and removes trapped hair trimmings.

If you don’t have a regular hair clippers maintenance or hair trimmer maintenance routine, make one. And watch out for signs of degrading quality. Remember, the quality of your tools affects the quality of your barbering services!

2. What do barbers use to clean and disinfect their tools?

New barbers are readily learning how to clean barber clippers. Many assume it’s the same as learning how to sterilize barber clippers.

In reality, cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are very different. Barber cleaning solutions and barber disinfectants require different products.

To prevent infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend cleaning surfaces and tools before sanitizing or disinfecting.

For example, you might use water and soap to wipe down your tools first. Next, to sterilize and disinfect, use Barbicide immersion, sprays, and wipes to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi, writes Iris Grossman of Hey Goldie. Sprays like Andis Cool Care Plus and Clippercide are excellent for disinfecting clippers and other instruments fast, Grossman adds.

Once sanitized, consider blasting your clippers with compressed air cans to eliminate clogged hair, Barber Temple recommends. For oiling, Barber Temple points to clipper oil or a lightweight alternative that can withstand heat, like vegetable or olive oil.

Interested in how to clean clippers without Barbicide? Barber Temple says 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or even distilled white vinegar can work. (Although the National Sanitation Foundation advises that vinegar is not as effective as commercial disinfectants.)

Here’s something else you’ll need for shears, comb, trimmer, and hair clippers maintenance: gloves. Why do barbers wear gloves? Not only do they protect your skin from harsh barber cleaning solutions and barber disinfectants, like Grossman points out. Wearing them during grooming services like cuts and shaves also prevents direct contact with bodily fluids. This, in turn, protects you and your client from cross-contamination—especially if someone gets cut.

Finally, keep extras. Having spare clippers, trimmers, shears, brushes, and combs means you can have one set for every client, then clean everything at the end of the day.

3. What’s the best way to clean hair clippers and other tools?

To clean and care for barber clippers, shears, and trimmers, set and follow a routine until it’s second nature. Moreover, adapt your routine to each specific tool.

For example, Scissor Tech UK breaks down care and maintenance tips for individual tools, like how to sanitize barber brushes, dirty hair clippers, and even capes. We’ve also linked several specific guides throughout this article.

When you’re learning how to sterilize barber clippers and other kindred barber tools, Grossman offers these highlights:

  • Immersion: First, clean your equipment with soap and water to remove debris. Rise and fully immerse them in Barbicide for 10 minutes. Remove all clean tools before replacing them with dirty ones, to avoid contaminating the clean ones.
  • Spraying: If you can’t immerse, spray. Leave on the barber disinfectant spray for 10 minutes before wiping, Grossman recommends.
  • Dip: Do you know how to sterilize barber clippers while preserving maximum sharpness? Grossman suggests dipping clipper blades in Andis Blade Care Plus while they’re running. Note: Avoid electrical components!
  • Wipe: Barbicide wipes are safe for furniture, combs, shears, and clippers, according to Grossman. One Barbicide wipe sanitizes, and the second disinfects.
  • Oil: Daily or even after each use, per the Barber Temple’s guide.
  • Store: Keep your clean tools in a clean container. Store dirty equipment separately.

Most importantly, learn how to properly clean barber equipment per your local and state barber shop sanitation regulations.

How else can you protect yourself from barber equipment claims?

Besides practicing shears, trimmers, brush, and hair clippers maintenance, you can prevent claims of unkempt barber tools in two ways.

First, barbers should create policies for educating clients. For example, teach them about the warning signs of an allergic reaction to prevent false accusations. To reduce the likelihood of hairdresser and barber shop complaints, you can also invite them to contact you. You may not be equipped to offer medical advice. But you can use the opportunity to calm them down before they get fired up with negative reviews and social media comments.

Additionally, teach by example. Earlier, we relayed a story of a young boy whose mother accused a barber of using unclean tools. If she’d seen him clean, she might’ve felt more confident in his practices.

“Make sure the barbers, cosmetologists, anybody, clean their tools in front of you,” the mother told KCRA 3 News. “You never know. They can say they cleaned it—and never did it.”

For this very reason, Andis’s educational speaker says he makes his barber disinfectant spray habits intentionally visible. Doing so builds rapport, he says. It shows them what to look for at other barbershops, too.

“I make sure that I disinfect my tools in front of my client,” Andis’s educator says. “I want to build this comfort with my client so he knows that I’m sanitizing my tools prior to applying it to his scalp.”

Second, protect yourself from claims with insurance tailored to your unique risks. Whether you’re accused of “ruining” their hair, causing them to slip and fall in your barbershop, or not knowing how to properly clean barber equipment, WellnessPro’s specialized program can tackle it all.

Learn more about our hairstylist and barber coverage here.

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.