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Can You Use A Rusty Razor?

It happens to all of us. You accidentally leave your razor somewhere damp, and the next time you need to shave, it’s covered in rust. So can you use a rusty razor? Unless you’re a drunken sailor with a hairy belly, I’d urge you not to. Here’s why, and what you can do instead. 

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Can You Use A Rusty Razor?

For your own safety, don’t use a rusty razor. Rusted razors lose their sharpness, which means they end up providing a more dangerous shave that’s much likelier to cause issues. They can also pose a danger to your health. 

Rust is produced from a reaction between moisture and the iron in your razor. Nowadays, most razors are designed with coatings to prevent rusting, but it’s not always 100% effective, especially if your razor is exposed to a lot of water or humidity. 

The environment where metal develops rust is also great for bacteria, so the risk of infection if you shave with a rusty razor is pretty high. 

What Happens If You Use A Rusty Razor?

From best case scenario to worst-case scenario, here are all the things that could potentially happen if you use a rusty razor: 

  • You’ll experience a terrible shave because of the loss of sharpness. 
  • You’ll end up with irritated skin, razor burn, and a higher chance of developing ingrown hairs later on. 
  • You could end up with a skin infection since rusty, damp objects are much more likely to collect bacteria. 

Can You Get An Infection From A Rusty Razor?

While rust itself isn’t a sure sign of germs, the fact is that the environment in which rust develops is also the environment where a lot of bacteria thrive: Namely, an environment with a lot of moisture and oxygen. 

Additionally, rust also weakens the integrity of your razor blade. It causes the metal to become more brittle, which means that it loses a lot of its sharpness. This often results in irritation and compromised skin after shaving. 

This combination of more bacteria plus broken skin increases the chances that you’ll experience a skin infection like folliculitis after you shave. 

How Do I Get Rust Off My Razor?

While you should never shave with a rusty razor, you might be able to clean it to remove the rust and make it safer to use.

If the rust collected on your safety razor’s double-edged blade, a manual razor cartridge, or disposable razors, you’re better off just throwing it away. 

On the other hand, you can definitely restore a metal safety razor (sans blades), a Shavette-style razor, or a straight razor. 

  • Before you start, clean your razor properly with warm water, a toothbrush or rag, and dishwashing soap – this might be enough to remove all of the rust. 
  • Use a toothpick or a pointed scraper to lodge off any buildup (including rust) in the nooks and crannies of your razor. 
  • For even more severe rust, use sandpaper to scrape it off. Start with the lowest grit, and work your way up as necessary. 
  • Finally, sanitize your razor by soaking it in an alcohol-based solution for 10 minutes. 
  • If you’re removing rust from a straight razor, make sure to also sharpen and strop it completely before actually shaving with it. 

How To Extend The Life Of Your Razor Blades

Prevention is worth an ounce of cure. Keep your blades in great shape and prevent rusting with these tips: 

  • After you finish shaving, keep your razor clean by rinsing it under hot water. Make sure to get rid of all hair residue and soap scum. 
  • Once you’re done shaving, dry your razor as much as you can with a towel. 
  • Then, store it somewhere where it can air dry completely – leave it sitting upright or hanging down from a special razor holder. 
  • If your bathroom gets humid, it’s best to leave your razor in your bedroom instead.  
  • With straight razors, especially, oil can help extend the life of your blade and protect it from moisture. Use mineral oil or a dedicated razor oil, and only apply it when the blade is completely dry. 

Can You Get Tetanus From A Rusty Razor?

Sort of, but it’s very unlikely. 

Contrary to popular belief, rust itself doesn’t cause tetanus. Clostridium tetani, the bacteria that causes tetanus, is usually found in organic matter like soil. 

If you cut yourself with an object that has gotten rusty after being outside in nature for a long time, it can end up infecting you. In other words, if you dug up a rusty razor from an abandoned lot or deep in your garden – yes, you’re at serious risk. Also, gross.  

On the other hand, if your razor developed a bit of rust because you left it in a humid bathroom, there is almost no chance it could give you tetanus, although it can still become host to other types of bacteria that are less life-threatening. 

Even so, make sure your tetanus shots are up to date – you never know what dirty, rusty objects life will throw at you, and it’s better to be protected. 

Why Does My Razor Rust So Quickly?

If your razor keeps rusting, chances are you’re not storing it well. Humidity is the main element that leads to rusting, so forgetting your razor in the shower or not drying it completely after you’re done shaving can lead to rusting. 

If you share a bathroom with a few people, just leaving it in the bathroom can mean that it’s exposed to steam from other people’s showers all day long. 

To prevent your razor from rusting, you need to find ways to keep it from getting damp in the first place. That can mean drying it after your shave, storing it sitting upright in a cup, or leaving it in your bedroom instead of the bathroom.

Miles is a professional men's grooming analyst who believes that to look good a man just needs to take good care of himself. He’s all about wet shaving, sustainability, and evidence-based grooming - an obsession he’s ready to share. Miles is known for his in-depth analysis of men's grooming products, brands, and best practices you can't find anywhere else.