Razor cleaner

Back in 1901 Mr Ernest F Ogborn patented a razor cleaner, presumably because he was tired of using razor cleaning paper. I briefly mentioned this patent when I discussed the sanitary package, but I figured a closer look could be fun.

As a reminder, a razor cleaning paper was1 a soft paper used for wiping excess lather and moisture of a straight edge razor. While nothing particularly special or difficult to get hold of, a barber would go through a lot of them during the day. This would create waste, as well as costing money. Mr Ogborn had a handy solution to both issues.

The razor cleaner patent

The object of the invention is to obviate the employment of paper in removing the lather from a razor when used in shaving.
A further object is to provide a device of the character specified which is adapted to be attached to the hand of the user, whereby it will always be in convenient position for use.

From US patent 706,997
The patent drawing for US patent 706997, showing Mr Ogborn's razor cleaner
Patent drawing from US patent 706,997

The breakdown

This is not a complex or hard to understand patent. There is no moving parts, no esoteric knowledge required. It is, when all is said and done, a rubber cup secured to the back of the hand with two rubber bands.

To use it, the shaver2 would simply drag the flat of the razor over the edge of the cup. The razor cleaner is, to be a little snarky, a squeegee for a straight razor. The cup would collect the excess lather, and could easily be rinsed out when full. If the rubber bands broke, the patent points out that they could be replaced for a minimal cost.

Wrap up

The razor cleaner is a simple idea that ought to work well. Work well for a straight razor, that is. For a safety razor it would work much less well. I have no idea of Mr Mr Ogborn ever got the razor cleaner into production. If he did the rubber will most likely have decayed ages ago, and the devices most likely thrown away. It is a shame, but it seem to have happened to most of shaving history.

The full patent can be viewed at Google Patents. And I still have a whole page filled with posts about old shaving patents and oddities, if you want to read more.


  1. Or is, for those who still uses razor cleaning paper.
  2. Or – perhaps more likely – the barber.

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