How To Use and Maintain A Safety Razor: Keeping your razor blades clean and rust free

One of the main ways to become more zero waste in the bathroom is to switch to a safety razor. While they may seem a little scary to use or “too manly” from old stereotypes, that’s totally not the case. They’re super simple to use once you get the technique right, and if taken care of properly, should last you a lifetime.

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Regardless if you’re wanting to reduce your plastic waste or if you simply want to start saving some money, switching out your razor to a stainless steel one is a great way to do both. But learning how to look after your razor as well as how to use it is half the battle of reducing waste and spending money.

What you need to know when switching to a plastic free razor

Disposable razors cannot be recycled

If you’ve ever used a disposable razor, you’ll know that once they become blunt they’re practically useless for shaving, and so they get thrown away into the trash and sent to landfill. This is because disposable razors made of mixed materials and lubricants, which means they cannot be recycled.

Back in October 1990(!) EPA estimated that the USA alone throws away around 2 Billion disposable razors and blades every year – and this was over 30 years ago! Every time we throw something like a plastic razor into landfill, it starts to leach out chemicals and micro-plastics into the environment.

Disposable razors can have harmful lubricants

Many disposable razors can have lots of different ingredients in their lubricants (if they have them), which can not only be harmful to the environment – as they also break down into the landfills, but for your skin too if you have allergies.

There are a few ingredients that can be found in razors such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) – which is a petroleum based compound, aluminium salts (which is used in antiperspirant deodorants), soy, and sometimes lanolin – which is a type of wax secreted by wool-bearing animals like sheep.

Saves money overall

Although you may be put off by the initial price of a safety razor – these can range anywhere between £15 and £80 depending on the brand, you actually save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

With disposable razors, they’re usually only recommended to be used for around 7-10 times, and if you use a razor daily, that means you can use around 50 razors a year. Depending on the type of razor you buy, this can cost anywhere between £5-£12 for a 2-5 blades or cartridges – with the blades being around £2.50 each, this would mean you’d be spending around £100 or more a year on just razors.

When buying a safety razor with double edge blades, these are considerably cheaper overall. Although you may spend a little more on getting the initial razor, you can get packs of blades for a lot less. You can buy packs of different quantities but most commonly are 10, 50, and 100 packs, and because these are just stainless steel they often cost less than 50p each. Often you can buy packs of 50 double edge razor blades for around £10, which should last you the entire year or longer.

Must be stored in checked luggage when travelling

When travelling by plane, make sure you store you safety razor in your checked luggage rather than handheld. Because the blades can but removed from the razor, they can be deemed as dangerous or as a weapon, and so could be taken away from you at security.

If you’re worried but only want to take cabin luggage, either save an old disposable razor for this, or see if you can go without one for your trip.

Save disposable ones for reusing

If you still have a disposable razor at home, don’t throw it away just yet! They can still be used for different things rather than just shaving.

I’ve previously used mine for removing bobbling from clothing – simply pull across the clothing slowly to remove the bobbles. It’s just like shaving, but don’t do this on wool, silk/satin, or knitted clothing, and be careful not to apply too much pressure or you’ll damage the fabric.

I’ve also saved it for times when I go on short trips and cannot take my safety razor (see above for why).

How to use a safety razor

When first getting a safety razor it can take a little bit of getting used to, especially since the head doesn’t move and they tend to be a bit heavier than disposable razors. These are a few pointers to help get you in the right direction.

Change how you hold the razor

When getting your new safety razor, you’ll notice they’re weightier than your average razor, as so you won’t need to apply as much pressure when shaving. Because the razor heads don’t adjust or rotate, it also helps to hold it around a 30-degree angle, while also shaving with the grain and going in shorter strokes – make sure you rinse the razor plenty too so it doesn’t get clogged.

As safety razors use double edge blades, you can use both sides of the razor which is super useful, but they also give a closer shave so make sure you go a little slower than usual at first.

Never dry shave

Dry shaving can cause irritation and sometimes razor burn, so make sure you have some kind of lubricant when shaving, as your razor won’t come with one.

The most common types are shaving soap or shaving cream, as well as shaving oil. You can get these usually either as package free bars, glass jars or metal tubs if you’re looking to reduce your plastic consumption a little more.

Get a blade bank for old blades

As with any kind of razor blade, when you’re finished with them they can still be sharp and cannot go in your household kerbside recycling (due to being hazardous and possibly harming the recycling workers). Getting a blade bank to store all your dull blades is a really good idea for once you need to start changing your blades – this can obviously take different lengths of time depending on how often you shave.

You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a blade bank if you don’t want to. You can always reuse an old plastic container, a glass jar, or I even store mine in an old ceramic plant pot. The idea is basically to store you old blades in a container until it is full, and then you can take it to your local recycling centre to be recycled.

Most blades should be able to be recycled at your local recycling centre in the ‘scrap metal’ section, but if you’re not sure, email your local council to see if it’s accepted there before you make the trip.

How to clean your safety razor

Keeping your safety razor clean and in tiptop condition is how it’s going to last you a long time without having to replace it or it getting rusty. Here are a few tips on how to maintain your safety razor.

Changing the blade

When you buy a new razor, they sometimes come with around 5 blades so you should have plenty for the time being. Blades are often recommend to be used for around 10 times, but once it starts to get dull then definitely change the blade. I usually do mine around once a month or so and I use mine 3-4 times a week, so it’s totally up to your own preference!

Store in a dry place

Once you’re done using your razor, make sure you dry it after each use with a towel, as well as storing it somewhere dry – your bathroom cabinet or windowsill (or even your bedroom) will be fine, but definitely NOT in the shower or bathtub as it will get rusty.

You can also get some safety razors that come with stands, so these could be a good option if you have little space.

Give it a monthly clean

Once a month I would recommend taking apart your razor (the handle, head pieces, and changing the blade) and giving it a well needed clean.

It doesn’t need to be super long, just a good scrub in hot water and liquid soap with an old toothbrush should do the trick.

Starting to go rusty? Don’t throw it away!

If your razor is starting to go rusty, it’s probably because you’ve been storing it somewhere wet or damp. To start off, give it a good scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush (how I said above), and make sure you get off as much rust as possible – if there is any left, the rust can come back.

If that doesn’t work, then another method is to soak in tub of half water and half white vinegar, plus 2-3 tbsp of bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda), and leave for around 30 mins to an hour – as well as giving it a good scrub at the end. Give it a good rinse and then dry off thoroughly before storing.

You can also make a paste with the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and give it a good scrub, so see what works best for you. Remember – you want to make sure all the rust is gone as it’ll come back if not.

Hopefully this helped you not only learn how to look after your safety razor, but why they’re such a good swap too! Do you have any tips on looking after your razors? I’d love to hear them!

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