How to Sharpen Razor Blades for the Long Term

Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
How to Sharpen Razor Blades for the Long Term

These days I have been doing a lot of thinking about my daily hygiene and beauty routine as it relates to a long term survival situation. I don’t want to appear frivolous but for me, feeling clean and looking nice are an important part of feeling good about myself in general. I do not think that my thoughts in this regard are limited to women and in fact, the Survival Husband feels much the same way, albeit without the need for a touch of lipstick and blush.

While an article on survival hygiene is long overdue, today I want to share with you a great tip for increasing the longevity of razor blades. Anyone who shaves – and this includes men and their beards and ladies and their legs – knows two things. One, razor blades are darn expensive and two, a dull razor blade will cut you up and result in a big bloody mess.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans

For the past few months I have been doing some research, trying to learn how to increase the longevity of the common razor blade. One strategy that worked well was drying the blade with a hair dryer after each use. Good to know, of course, but highly impractical in a survival situation.

I recently learned of a new technique and after testing with three separate razors, I can attest to its efficacy.

Sharpening a Razor Blade Using Blue Jeans

This method of sharpening a dull razor blade is so very simple that I am surprised more people don’t know about it.

1. Clean your razor in a little cup of soapy water.

Let it sit for awhile so that all of the old goo and gunk float away.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (4)

What I did was spray some of my Tea Tree Wonderful in a glass and let the razor soak for about an hour. I could not believe the crud that came loose!

2. Dry your razor by shaking away then excess moisture the wiping it off with a towel (or in my case, a microfiber cloth).

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (3)

These are the razors I used for testing. All were old and dull.

3. Going in the opposite of your normal shaving direction, run the razor across some blue jean material about 20 times.

This is called stropping. Remember, you want to run the shaver backwards!

That’s it – easy peasy.

The Testimonial

When I was done sharpening the razor blades, I handed the Survival Husband his razor and told him to give it a try. Now let me say this: he was doubtful to say the least.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (1)

The first words out of his mouth were “Wow, this is really sharp”. I asked him how old the blade was and he said about a month. It was ready for the trash any day now.

Need convincing?

As part of my research, I came across the following YouTube video. It demonstrates the process for you and although the author refers to sharpening a disposable razor, in my tests a standard razor (not the disposable type) worked equally well.

Some Thoughts on the Budget

I like to save money just as much as the next person. As near as I can tell, refill razor blades are expensive. Let’s say you can get one month’s use out or each. That would be $24 a year. If you could double their life by sharpening the blades on a pair of blue jeans, you would save $12 right off the bat.

How many times can you re-sharpen the razor blades? Time will tell but if you ask me, my best guess is that you can re-sharpen then at least twice, if not more. It certainly is worth a try.

The Story Continued

What started out as a great Wednesday shortly turned into a bloody mess. The short version of the story is that Shelly, aka the Survival Husband, decided to touch up his bald head with a dull razor blade. What happened next was a scrape about one and a half inches long and a half inch wide. Who would have thought that so much blood could pour out of such a small wound.

I grabbed some gauze to soak up what I could, then dabbed on some boo-boo stick followed by miracle slave. While he held a clean piece of gauze in place, I grabbed the first aid kit and used a chunk of 1″ stretch wrap bandage aka “Vet Wrap” to hold the gauze in place. Although he looked like a dork for the rest of the day, the bleeding stopped and we were able to remove the makeshift bandage at bedtime.

How to Avoid Nicks and Cuts by Sharpening Razor Blades | Backdoor Survival

Whether it was his great healing powers, or the essential oils in the Boo-Boo stick and salve, by the next morning, there was barely a scar.

When all was said and done, he got a harsh scolding for using a dull razor blade. There is absolutely no excuse for that since sharpening your own razor blades only takes a minute or two and is a cinch. All you need is scrap of old denim.

Need the recipe for Boo-Boo Stick? You can find it here: Make Your Own Healing Boo-Boo Stick.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: Stock up on a small supply of razor blades then sharpen them yourself! Check out these and a few more items related to today’s article.

Gillette Sensor Excel Razor: This is an extremely popular razor. According to the reviewers, it is difficult these days to find it locally. Shelly (the Survival Husband) uses this razor with the 3-blade refills.

Gillette Mach3 Men’s Razor Blade Refills 15 Count: These are the refill blades that Shelly uses. He has not felt the need to go beyond the 3 blade type of razor. Can you imagine giving these the longevity of 30 or even 45 blades?

Gillette Sensor3 Smooth Shave Disposable Razor 8 Count: Many folks prefer disposable blades but personally? Although we use them, we like the heft of a traditional, non-disposable razor.

Soft ‘N Style Clear Spray Bottles I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 6. Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

Stretch Bandage Wrap, 1” 30 rolls: I first learned about self-adhesive bandages when my dog came home from the vet such a bandage wrapped around his leg. A light went off telling me I needed to add some to my first-aid kit. And so I did. This is a fantastic price and rivals the price at the farm supply. I rarely use old-fashioned band aids any more. You are going to love this stuff.

Mylar bags & Oxygen Absorbers: What I love about Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers is they protect against every single one of the food storage enemies. Prices do vary but for the most part, they are inexpensive and easy to keep on hand. And while you can seal them up with a FoodSaver, some tubing and a common clothes iron, I find it infinitely easier with a cheap hair straightening iron that you can pick up for very cheap.

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, (Pack of 36): No list of DIY cleaning supplies would be complete without these wonderful microfiber cloths. They will last you for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever. Truly. I color code using blue for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else. I love these. They are not as “fuzzy” as the Z-wipes. I have both types.

Spark Naturals Essential 4 Pack: This 4 pack includes some of the most popular essential oils for everyday use, including lavender, peppermint, melaleuca (tea tree), and lemon. Another option is the “Health and Wellness” kit that comes packaged in a tin and includes a brochure with suggested uses for each of the oils. As kits, these oils are already discounted but as an added bonus, you get an additional 10% off with discount code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap: Of all of the Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps, tea tree is my favorite. I prefer to purchase the versions are already infused with essential oils since it does save me a step when concocting my own cleaners. A little goes a long way with a favorite use being DIY Foaming Hand Soap.

Color Me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation: Those of you that follow Backdoor Survival on Facebook know that I have become a coloring maniac. This book is my latest splurge and what a fantastic adult coloring book it is! This is another one of my favorites: Balance (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1) Yes, I am totally addicted. Why color? Read Nine Reasons Why Adult Coloring is Important to Preppers.

Colored Pencils 36-color Art Drawing Pencils: This is the first set of pencils I purchased and they have served me well. I can also recommend this set of 72 colors from Prismacolor. More expensive, yes. But really worth it for coloring scenes where you want to do a lot of shading.

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66 Responses to “How to Sharpen Razor Blades for the Long Term”

  1. Gaye, I gave up disposable razors long ago. I use a double-edged safety razor. The blades are disposable, true, but the metal handle is not. The blades can be stropped, but they are so cheap compared to the fancy 3-blade wonders that I usually don’t bother. But since they don’t have any fancy “moisturizer bars” or plastic parts to degrade, you could sharpen it for a long time.

    I got mine at an estate sale. They have gotten hard to find–they’re in vogue–but the bald guy from the pawn shop show is hawking them for about $20. But once you have the handle, you can get a 10-pack of replacement blades at Walmart for less than $5.

    The shave is the best I’ve ever had short of a barber. It’s a little different technique, since you don’t want to press down like you do with the disposables, but it’s clean, and with a good shaving soap and brush (I don’t use the canned stuff anymore), I don’t get any skin irritation. I know of men who shave their heads with them, too.

  2. I know you hate to give up your island home, but certainly understand. A friend lived on Hat Island and medical issues necessitated them to relocate to the mainland. Those island locations are beautiful, BUT! Will you still migrate to AZ for winters? I live here in AZ full time and this year has been a doozy on “warmth”! LOL. We always enjoy the end of the 5 month summer spell. Best wishes for a quick sale to your liking and finding a new retreat location.

    • Affirmative. We love Arizona including the people and a culture that does not automatically embrace the rules (if you know what I mean).

  3. Great article! Gaye has taught us how to repair and reuse disposable razors, just as she taught us how to recharge batteries and discover that many old batteries still have life in them.

    Loved the antibiotics quiz. I got one answer wrong. Meat is a big problem. I tried being vegetarian but it weakened me, even with eggs, dairy abd vitamins.

    Then I spent A LOT of money on a free-range, grass fed, grass finished leg of lamb. It was hard work cutting it into portions for the freezer but it has been worth it.

    I only need meat once or twice a week. That small about of lamb has definitely improved my health. As for the choice of lamb, in case anyone is wondering, it’s the only meat I like.

  4. Just use a straight razor. I’ve been using a 100 year old straight razor for about ten years now. I paid $15 for it on ebay. This one razor will last generations. And I never have to resharpen it. All I do is strop it before every use. I use a balsa wood strop that I cover in chromox buffing compound which is essentially a giant green crayon with super fine particulate in it. I bought it when I bought my razor ten years ago, and in that time I’ve used about 1/16th an inch of a 4″ stick. Stropping on newspaper also works incredibly well. Apparently the micro texture of the printed text acts as a fine buffing compound.

  5. Great how-to on extending the razors life, although leather is the best to use. Even a belt if it’s real leather, and a straight razor would be perfect for SHTF, only stropping is needed to sharpen the blade, and a quality one will last a lifetime.

  6. I will definitely try this. I’ve been trying to figure out how to strop my razors for years. I usually get 4-5 months on a cheap disposable razor. My trick is to keep a small bottle of mineral oil handy in the shower. When I’m done shaving in the shower, I put a drop of oil on the blade and tilt the blade to let the oil coat it. The oil pushes away the water and keeps the air from getting to the blade, preventing or minimizing oxidation (rust or corrosion).

  7. Really helpful!!! I go through razors abnormally fast, and this will help save money. Only annoying thing is the amount of stuff which comes off the jeans and clogs the razor

    • Kat, make sure the denim you’re using has been washed a couple of times. This will get rid of that junk. You might want to wash it after every time you’ve stopped with it.

  8. We used to prolong zip-knife type razor blades by sharpening them on glass. In a pinch, an extremely smooth piece of concrete can be used but glass will produce the finest edge.

  9. I am interested in buying a pk.#10 blades of Gellette Sensor Excel 2 blade,pk.#10.If I
    buy more,do I get a discount ? Your sugesetion about resharping the blades sounds great.Thanks for the tip. I will try it.

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