Have you ever tried to squeeze just one more shave out of a well-used razor? How do you know when it’s time to throw away your disposable razor?
Disposable razors should be discarded once they become dull, typically after 5-7 shaves. Your beard’s texture and the amount of hair that needs to be shaved will determine how quickly the razor wears down. You can extend your razor’s life by thoroughly cleaning and completely drying the razor and storing it in a dry place between uses.
Read on to find out more about disposable blades and how to extend their life!
How often should you replace disposable razors?
Razors can be expensive! No one likes to waste money, but disposable razors do need to be replaced regularly.
Disposable razors and cartridges can last 5-7 shaves. Once the blades begin to dull or cause discomfort, they should be replaced immediately. Thick or coarse hair may dull disposables faster than finer hair. Detail work around the neckline or cheeks will not dull blades as quickly, but shaving body hair will dull blades faster.
The most basic answer is that a disposable razor or cartridge should be trashed once it becomes uncomfortable to shave with. Your shaving experience will not improve with dead or dying blades.
What’s the difference between disposable and reusable razors?
Disposable. Reusable. How do you know the difference?
Disposable razors are typically a one-piece plastic design. They are made to be used and disposed of when dull. A reusable razor is made of two parts, including a head and a handle. The head houses the blades and can be replaced while the handle continues to be reused.
If you’ve ever checked into a hotel only to realize you left your favorite razor at home, chances are the front desk gave you a disposable replacement. They are cheap cousins to reusable razors.
Reusable razors come with a sturdier, more ergonomic handle. Some are made of plastic, while upscale versions are metal. They come with removable heads or cartridges that can easily be changed out when they reach the end of their cutting life span. The handle can last indefinitely, but cartridges can be expensive.
Signs it’s time for a new disposable razor
There are obvious signs it is time to switch your old disposable razor for a new one.
Visually inspect the blade to look for clogged or damaged blades. Dull blades can result in tugging and pulling on your hair and can cause razor burn, nicks, and skin irritation. Razor performance will also decrease, and you may have to go over areas more than once.
Warning signs it’s time for a new razor:
- Clogged blades
- Dull, damaged blades
- Razor burn
- Decreased performance
You can often tell your razor has reached the end of its useful life by looking at the head. If the blades are tightly clogged with hair, skin, and soap, they aren’t going to cut well.
If you notice razor burns, ingrown hair, or nicks after you shave, this can indicate it’s time to replace your razor. Dull, dirty blades can spread bacteria and increase friction causing skin irritation.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a blade is dull just by looking at it. Old, worn blades don’t shave efficiently, so you’ll often feel tugging, pulling, and may even have to shave over areas multiple times.
Can you just throw away disposable razors?
Have you considered the environmental impact of disposable razors? Is it safe to just throw the razor away when you are done with it?
Disposable razors are designed to be disposed of in a regular trash can. For the safety of sanitation workers, it is recommended to wrap the razors or cartridges in paper or tape. According to the FDA, a sharps container is the best method for disposal.
Disposable razors are not technically recyclable unless the metal components are separated from the plastics and disposed of accordingly. If disposables are fully intact, they are considered a mixed commodity and will be sent to landfills. Billions of disposables and cartridges are added to landfills yearly.
Safety razors are, however, much more environmentally friendly. The steel blades are the only waste. Those blades are even recyclable; the recycling is determined by waste management ordinance in your area as some cities require a sharps box.
Some safety razor blades are packaged within their own sharps box. A new blade slides out from the top of the plastic container, and a used blade can be stored in a compartment at the bottom.
Safety razors are much cheaper than disposable whole razors or cartridges, making them an environmentally and economically sound option.
Do disposable razors expire?
Is that unopened package of razors in the back of your cabinet still sharp after 5 years?
Disposable razors do not expire. Gel strips in disposable razors will begin to dry out once removed from the package. The metal razors will not dull if unused and sealed. Exposure to water or other elements will start the clock on a razor’s lifespan.
Clark Howard, a renowned consumer reports expert, claims to have used one disposable razor for 12 months as a cost-saving endeavor, as cartridges are notoriously expensive. Howard admitted the razor only lasted 10-11 months, but he was determined to make the 12-month challenge. He dried the blade after each use but did not recommend that blades be pushed that far.
Howard began the 12-month challenge as a means to find an alternative to expensive shave cartridges that can easily cost several dollars each.
Safety razor blades, on the other hand, cost $0.10-$0.25 when purchased in bulk and will not degrade until they are used. They are often packaged in wax paper to help repel water.
Hacks for maximizing the life span and value of disposable razors
If you are determined to get every last shave out of a disposable razor, there are some ways to make them last a little longer.
Cartridges and disposable razors can be very expensive, so trying to get the most out of them makes sense. Nothing can be done to make the blades feel brand new, but a few more comfortable shaves can be added by cleaning and drying your razor between uses, keeping it safely stored, and adding oil or stropping to your routine.
If you are determined to get the maximum usage out of your disposable razor, follow these tips:
- Clean and dry your razor after each use
- Store your razor in a dry place
- Use shaving oils
- Avoid striking the razor on hard surfaces
- Strop your blade
Clean and dry your razors after each use
Extend the life of your disposable razor by thoroughly cleaning and drying it after each use.
A small brush can be helpful to remove gunk from between multiple blades. Rinse the razor under hot running water and leave it on a towel to dry. Blotting the razor or cartridge on a towel will help to dry it, but it can pick up lint.
A drop or two of alcohol can also release the moisture hidden between the layers of blades. A disposable can even be soaked in isopropyl alcohol and left to dry to sanitize and prevent rust.
Store your razor in a dry place
Leaving a disposable in the shower or a wet sink can lead to rust.
When not in use, a wet razor can be a breeding ground for bacteria and rust. Line a drawer with a towel, use the medicine cabinet, or buy a razor holder instead of leaving the razor on a wet surface.
A toothbrush holder works well to keep disposable blades dry. Just make sure the head of the razor and your toothbrush don’t mingle.
Use shaving oils
Shaving oils reduce friction allowing facial hair to be cut easily.
The head of the razor can be soaked in a shallow pool of mineral oil before shaving. The oil also helps to repel water which leads to rust.
Avoid striking the blades
Tapping the razor against the sink or dropping it on a hard counter can be detrimental to a sharp blade.
A good rinse under a forceful stream of water is much better for extending the blade life.
Stroking a disposable razor across a leather strop can extend a disposable razor beyond its recommended usage.
Correct stropping will ultimately only sharpen the visible side of the disposable razor blades, while errant stropping can lead to burrs or warping, making the razor unsafe.
Some forums have suggested using denim jeans as a strop. There are disposable razor sharpeners on the market, but caution should be used.
Summary of when to throw away your disposable razor
A good rule of thumb is to replace disposable razors after 5-7 shaves. If the blades are clogged with hair or damaged, it’s time for the trash. Razor burn, ingrown hair, or other skin irritations after shaving are also signals. Tugging, pulling, and poor shave performance indicate new blades are in order.
Are you supposed to throw away disposable razors?
You are supposed to dispose of disposable razors once they become dull or start irritating the skin.
How do you dispose of disposable razor blades?
The best way to dispose of a disposable razor is to separate the blade head from the handle and put the blade in a sharps container. This can be difficult and dangerous when disposables are made of hard plastic. Instead, wrap the blade area in paper or tape to prevent accidental cuts when throwing away as a whole unit.
Should I throw away my razor after shaving?
Most disposable razors will perform well for 5-7 shaves depending on hair thickness and surface area shaved.