Part of the enjoyment and fun of real shaving is that we have a long and rich heritage, Gillette founded his razor company in 1901. This means we can get to use some really excellent old kit: Eclipse Red Rings, Darwin stainless steel razors, Gillette Fat Boys and Red Tips, original Simpson Somerset made brushes etc etc.

The problem here is that virtually all this stuff has been pre-used by other people. And other people sometimes have diseases: HIV AIDS, various forms of Hepatitis, ingrowing tonails etc. And there is the potential, however slight, of catching what some previous user had. So when you buy old kit, and believe me when you get into real shaving you will be pretty keen to, you may want to  act to protect yourself.

In the past I have just briefly boiled stuff, soaked it in Dettol and scrubbed it with an old toothbrush. So far I haven’t caught anything that I know about. More potentially harmful the boiling process has the possibility of damaging the stuff it is disinfecting as does using more powerful chemicals such as domestic bleach.

Of course this is a problem barbers shops have had for a very long time, grooming successive customers with the same equipment. It doesn’t seem to cause any epidemics, but you can’t be too careful, which led an American, Maurice King, to invent a special chemical for the job in 1947. He called it Barbicide and for those of you who are into chemistry the active ingredient is Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, not something you would want to drink. It comes as a blue concentrate that you dilute 16 to one with water. There is even a special jar available from King Research for barbers to have on a shelf to soak their stuff in.

It is a germicide, a pseudomonacide, a fungicide and a viricide. It kills off the HIV (AIDS) virus as well as Hepatitis A, B and C. All with just 10 minutes of insertion in the fluid, in fact they reckon that 30 seconds is enough for most things. So obsessive are Americans about hygiene that several states mandated its use, by name, in all barbers shops. And two states still do!

In the EU it is distributed by Renscene in Leicestershire who carry a whole range of Barbicide products.