When Should You Throw Away Disposable Razors? (And Maximize Value)

Have you ever tried to get just one more shave out of a well-used disposable razor? How do you know when it’s time to throw it away?

Disposable razors should be discarded once they become dull, typically after 5-10 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.

How often should you throw away disposable razors?

Disposable razors can be expensive and no one likes to waste money, but they do need to be replaced regularly.

Disposable razors and cartridges can last from 5-10 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 cartridges.

Can you just throw away disposable razors?

Have you considered the environmental impact of safety razors?

Disposable razors are designed to be disposed of in a regular trash can. For the safety of sanitation work workers, it is recommended to wrap the razors or cartridges in paper or tape but this is not ideal or safe. According to the FDA, a sharps container is the best method for disposable.

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 is slid 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 both environmental and economical options. 

Do disposable razors expire?

Is that unopened package of razors in the back of my 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. Safety razor blades 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.

Tips for maximizing the lifespan 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.

Cartridges and disposable razors can be very expensive so it makes sense to try and get the most out of them. Nothing can be done to make the blades feel new but a few more comfortable shaves can be found with a little extra effort.

If you are determined to work to get the maximum usage out of your disposable razor:

  • 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.

Line a drawer with a towel for razor storage or use the medicine cabinet instead of leaving the razor on a wet surface.

A toothbrush holder works well also to keep disposable blades dry.

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 that leads to rust.

Avoid striking the blades

Tapping the razor against the sink or dropping it on a hard counter can be detrimental.

A good rinse under a forceful stream of water is much better for extending the blade life.

Stropping

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.