Cleaning my treasured comb
May 18, 2016 12:46 PM   Subscribe

A few years back, this wonderful community helped me find one of my favorite personal items, a beautiful vintage folding comb. I use it often. The only trouble is, I use it after I have applied a variety of hair products, including, but certainly not limited to, petroleum-based pomades like Murray's and water-based pomades like Layrite and Reuzel. The result is gross grey-ish buildup that I suspect is a combination of hair gunk, scalp gunk, and pocket lint.

I've tried using soap and water, removing with a washcloth, stripping it off with my fingers, and various other methods. Yet, it still clings stubbornly to the teeth of the comb. Can you think of another way to remove this unwelcome residue?

One complication: the case is some manner of delicate metal, so I have to be careful about getting it wet. The teeth are plastic so they could possibly be submerged, if I were very careful.
posted by lieber hair to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've found for oily gunk like that, nothing works as well as Dawn dish soap. If you haven't tried that yet, I'd rub it in and rinse with the spray hose a few times until it's gone.
posted by General Malaise at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

You need heat. Did you try hot water? And dish washing detergent, not soap? Failing that baby wipes are magic but really terrible for the environment.
posted by taff at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2016

Try scrubbing it with something-- toothbrush or scrub brush-- that will get in between the teeth. Or, if you want to be very delicate, you can take a needle and carefully tap at the gunk. All of these methods would work fine with a bit of water and soap.
posted by acidic at 1:00 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I soak my hairbrushes in Oxyclean and the grime just lifts right off.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2016

Try baby shampoo and an old toothbrush. Fill a basin with warm water, and just dip the toothbrush in the water, put a tiny amount of shampoo, and gently scrub the gunk out of the teeth of the comb. Rinse the brush frequently, and don't submerge the comb. If possible, rinse just the comb part under running water. Blot dry, and leave in a warm, well ventilated place to dry completely
posted by LaBellaStella at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Unless it's Bakelite is there a reason not to spray it with whatever is to hand like I dunno vinegar-based window cleaner?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2016

Pipe cleaners?
Sparkly / metallic pipe cleaners? (They are more abrasive than the soft kind, but still not that abrasive)
Run a piece of thick fabric between each tooth of the comb? (Try denim... and fold it if you need it to be thicker, so it brushes past both teeth as it goes through the gap)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:06 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Use one of the products named above and scrub it with a toothbrush. Brushes are magic.
posted by mskyle at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2016

I would try Goo-Gone and an old soft-bristle toothbrush. Test Goo-gone on a small spot first, but it's usually pretty benign (I think it's citrus based).
posted by amtho at 1:38 PM on May 18, 2016

Shampoo should work. It's made to break down product gunk for your hair. As long as you rinse and dry thoroughly, it should be fine.
posted by meemzi at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2016

n-thing toothbrush.
posted by sarajane at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2016

I use rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush to clean my combs. They are plastic except for one that is wood with a lacquer(?) finish. No harm done yet. I don't know if alcohol is safe for all types of plastic.
posted by goodsearch at 3:43 PM on May 18, 2016

I have the same problem, and I use a (my only) fingernail brush under warm water. Works great.
posted by rhizome at 4:35 PM on May 18, 2016

I am familiar with that greyish gunk--I also use Murray's. Like removes like, so try rubbing oil into your comb and THEN scrubbing it with a nail brush and shampoo. If you don't have mineral oil laying around, try coconut oil.

(The best way I found to get the Murray's residue completely out of my hair for real--like before a haircut or dye--was to slather with conditioner first, then shampoo a couple of times. Just shampooing left residual stickiness.)
posted by desuetude at 9:16 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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