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Beware of This Hazard If Your Home Was Built Before 1970

If you live in a house that was built before 1970, you may come across one very unexpected item while renovating your home. If you decide to knock down any walls, don’t be too shocked if hundreds of old rusty razor blades come pouring out. Yes, you read those words right. This scenario sounds like it came out of a horror movie, but it is more common than you’d think. How did the razor blades find their way into the walls in the first place?

Until 1903, the only razors available were straight-edge ones. To give men a safer and easier way to shave at home, Gillette introduced the first safety razors that same year. While these razor blades take a little more time to master than today’s razors, they were a vast improvement in terms of usability, and soon, nearly everyone was shaving with them. 

Why Old Homes Might Have Razor Blades In the Walls, razor blade

The only problem was the disposal of used blades. Simply throwing them away wasn’t a viable option because they were very sharp and contaminated with skin, hair, and occasionally even blood. During the 30s and 40s, trash was regularly burned and the ashes were later spread in the garden. However, disposable razors were generally resistant to the low heat of trash fires and often remained completely intact. Needless to say, no one wants to find sharp old razor blades in their garden, or worse, cut yourself while gardening. 

Finally, a new method of disposal was introduced in the 1950s. Old medicine cabinets were installed directly inside the interior walls of the bathroom. These old units had a slot in the back that was used to discard used blades. This way, they fell through the wall cavity and piled up on the bottom plate of a stud wall. The idea was that it would take centuries for the space between the walls to get filled up with the tiny blades, and by then, a more practical way to dispose of razor blades would surely be invented.

However, things didn't go as planned. As time went by, newer methods of shaving were invented and new medicine cabinets were installed in homes across the country. The slots in the walls were simply covered with plaster and the entire practice was forgotten.

The whole ordeal completely slipped out of our collective memory until someone tried to knock down an old wall. “We have found stacks of razor blades in the walls at least a dozen times when we do remodels and restorations of older homes,” said Richard D’Angelo, Project Manager at JWE Remodeling and Roofing told Reader’s Digest.

“We even once found them in the ceiling of the first floor: they fell through the wall from the second-floor bathroom, down a hole made for plumbing pipes, and into the ceiling cavity of the kitchen. When we demolished the old plaster ceiling, the razors came raining down. Luckily no one was hurt!”

How to safely dispose of razor blades

Why Old Homes Might Have Razor Blades In the Walls, blades pouring out of a wall during renovation

Image Source: Reddit

Fortunately, safe disposal methods of old sharp objects were indeed invented in the 21st century, so if you do happen to find some old blades hidden in your walls, it’s important to get rid of them properly so that no one gets hurt. 

1. Recycling center 

Since safety razors are made entirely out of metal, they can be recycled. You can put the blades in a metal safe or any other metal container you may have, and dispose of the whole thing at a local recycling center. It is recommended to seal the container of your choosing shut with some tape before recycling. 

It's important to note that most cities have their own regulations and guidelines for recycling double-edged razor blades. Therefore, it's best to check with your city which method is optimal.

2. Collection Programs

Many municipalities operate collection programs for the safe disposal of sharp objects. After carefully collecting the blades into a container and sealing it shut, you can dispose of them at approved sharp collection locations. Depending on your area, these could include hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, community-based organizations, police stations, waste transfer stations, or safe sharps collection drop boxes. We hope you found this helpful.


Cover image source: Twitter

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