Tutorial Clean & De-Stink your shaving brushes

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Neolithium, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    This is a quick, very cheap, and easy way to clean your shaving brushes that have been used, or to remove the stink from a brand new brush. I tend to do mine every 3-6 months depending on use but never less than once a year. You would be shocked at the amount of soap/cream remains even with a proper rinsing of the brush after shaving. One "bath" like this will be good enough to clean a knot completely. If you're de-stinking a new brush it may take several baths before the smell really gets going, however it will also assist breaking in your boar/horse brushes in between your latherings.

    Keeping up with a semi-annual regimen like this can extend the life of your brushes quite a bit, as there's far less likelihood of any random mildew or mold setting in at the base of the knot.

    Be careful using this process with vintage brushes - they may not have been cared for properly and if they're already damaged you can cause hair loss in them. I've used this on numerous new(er) brushes without any issues except for a hair or two coming loose, which is obviously average shedding after a good cleaning anyway. If you have serious hair loss from your brush you may have to consider a defective knot, or something deeper such as mold/mildew already existing in it.

    What you'll need
    2 cups
    Toothbrush (Not one you use!)
    Shaving Brushes (Obviously)


    Step One
    Place some borax into one of the empty cups, this just makes it easier to spoon it into the other cup, particularly if you're doing more than one brush. Take a heaping teaspoon and dump it into the other empty cup, and fill with approximately 1 cup of warm water.


    Step Two
    Set your brush into the cup of borax solution and let soak for at least 5 minutes, just like you were going to use it to lather up.


    Step Three
    Agitate your brush, side to side and up and down motions working the solution throughout the knot. I generally go through the following rotation: Soak for 5 minutes, Agitate, Soak for 5 more...and will repeat this for about half an hour total. You can see how much I'm mashing the bristles into the solution as well.


    Step Four
    Remove from the water thoroughly rinse the knot out. Do not be gentle with this step as you need to get the whole solution out of there. This would be a good time to dump and replace the mixture as well, if you're doing more brushes. Do not re-use the solution as it's full of undesirable things right now and you don't want that in a different brush you're attempting to clean.


    Step Five
    Shake brush out thoroughly, make lather motions on a towel which will help get rid of the bulk of excess water.


    Step Six
    Place your brush(es) somewhere with air flow that will allow them to dry naturally. Don't place in an enclosed medicine cabinet, etc as that will just defeat the purpose of this whole cleaning.


    There are of course, a number of ways to clean and de-stink brushes however I found this to be an easy, relatively quick way to take care of it, and don't like using any shampoo/conditioner methods. Hopefully some of you have found this helpful and will be able to keep your brushes going for a good number of decades!
  2. JRod22

    JRod22 Well-Known Member

    Nice tutorial Justin, I will definitely give this a try when I decide its time to clean my brushes.
  3. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    I'm one of the more vocal proponents of using shampoo and conditioner, but only for breaking in a new brush or defunkifying it. To get a brush clean, one needs to follow the directions above, or purchase a cosmetic brush cleaner. Shampoo and conditioner strip oils from hair and then create a protective coating, useful if you are trying to get rid of the musky new brush smell or for softening a new brush, but not so great at deep cleaning.
    Justin, this is probably the best I've ever seen the brush cleaning process laid out. This is going to be a great resource for anyone needing to clean brushes.
    Douglas Carey, Boojum1 and BigT like this.
  4. feeltheburn

    feeltheburn Well-Known Member

    Thanks Justin. This will come in handy soon.
  5. emmijack

    emmijack Well-Known Member

    I don't recall seeing Borax on any shelves here in the uk, although I'm sure I could get it online, I have heard that a weak solution of cider vinegar does the job as well, anyone else heard this?????
  6. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    I haven't used cider vinegar, only white, but it does about the same job too - as Borax and Vinegar are both light acids.
    Douglas Carey likes this.
  7. emmijack

    emmijack Well-Known Member

    I have a bottle of distilled white vinegar in th cupboard, might give it a try at the weekend, Thanks Justin!!!
  8. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    No problem! The mixture changes slightly with it being 1 part vinegar to 1 part water, but the result should be the same in the end.
    BigMark and PLANofMAN like this.
  9. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Borax is typically found in the laundry detergent section of stores. It's a laundry booster. Here in the states it's sold under the name 20 mule team borax. It may be sold under a different name in Europe. It's also known as sodium borate.
    Tobin Fetters and Boojum1 like this.
  10. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    Ive used the white vinegar to get the lovely scent you get from a new Omega boar, it took a few baths lol but the bruses turned ok good.
    ObiDon likes this.
  11. richgem

    richgem suffering from chronic clicker hand cramps

    As an alternate method, I do a borax soak once every month or two soaking the brush for 1 hour. I then agitating the brush for 1 minute every 15 minutes.
    wristwatchb, jimmy Mac and Boojum1 like this.
  12. JayPo007

    JayPo007 Well-Known Member

    Awesome tutorial Justin. I tired this the other day on a mega stinky silvertip I received for Christmas. Now I can use it without a close pin for my nose.
    sike770 and Boojum1 like this.
  13. iambatman85

    iambatman85 Well-Known Member

    Awesome tutuorial. I have some new brushes coming in and was worried about the stink. I normally use blue dawn as it is cheap and plentiful in my house but I'm going to give Borax a try.
    Boojum1 likes this.
  14. Sara-s

    Sara-s This Pun for Hire

    OK, I must have missed something. What was the toothbrush for?
    5t8t2u likes this.
  15. Star

    Star Active Member

    What brush is that in the very back row in the center in the last picture?
  16. Larry Stephenson

    Larry Stephenson Active Member

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just got a new brush in yesterday and it's sooo nice to use (a silvertip). I'd heard that a very funky smell can take a while to work its way out, but I HAD NO IDEA how funky and it wasn't at all noticeable until after the first shave! The brush is so nice to use that the smell wouldn't keep me from using it, but now I don't have to subject myself to that awful, festering, rotten badger snot odor! I'm giving the new brush this treatment as soon as I click 'Post'.
    Boojum1 likes this.
  17. oldtrout

    oldtrout Well-Known Member

    I was wondering the same.
    Boojum1 likes this.
  18. macaronus

    macaronus Sir Nice-a-Lot

    Cleaning the handle?
  19. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    Simpsons Chubby CH1.

    The toothrbush is for any soap rings (as needed) around the base of the knot - however my wife was supposed to take pictures, but ended up going out for coffee and I couldn't maneouvre the camera properly trying to get a picture of it :(
  20. Sara-s

    Sara-s This Pun for Hire

    OK, thanks for explaining.

Share This Page