Seen Around Town: Razor Blade Bank Slot

Blade bank slot in bathroom wall | Photograph by IS Architecture, 2017

Blade bank slot in bathroom wall | Photograph by IS Architecture, 2017

Have you ever seen a horizontal slot in a bathroom wall or the back of a medicine cabinet and wondered what use such a strange design feature could possibly have? It turns out that these small slots date to the early- to mid-20th century, when razors didn’t come with snap-on heads but rather with replaceable razor blades. Instead of throwing a used (but still dangerous) blade into the trash can where it could be found by children or pets, shavers could deposit it through this slot into a cavity in the bathroom wall. Some of these slots are simply cut into the wall or medicine cabinet, but others were made decorative through the use of special blade slot tiles.

Blade bank slot 2

Decorative tile with blade slot | Photograph by IS Architecture, 2017.

Caches of rusty razor blades have been unearthed during renovations of historic houses and look a little something like this:

Photograph by Life of Chestnut Street (

Photograph by Life of Chestnut Street (

In the 1960s, Gillette began producing stainless steel blades that could survive more shaves before needing to be discarded. This encouraged the popularization of a fully-disposable razor, which did not require investment in the type and quality of razor handle that was necessary for repeatedly replacing blades. In 1971, the longevity of an individual razor was extended yet again with Gillette’s revolutionary two-bladed razor, a concept which we since have taken to extremes (the Dorco Pace 7 has an astounding seven blades!).

Today’s disposable razors and disposable blade cartridges don’t require a blade bank or blade slot anymore, but boutique shaving companies and shaving traditionalists are beginning to make replaceable razor blades popular once again. Who knows? Maybe the in-wall blade bank slot will make a comeback!

The “Seen Around Town” series illuminates the purpose and history of unique and interesting architectural features that our architects and historians find during their work. Have an interesting design feature you’d like us to cover? Shoot us a note and we may feature your idea in an upcoming post!

by R. McManus

Sources: Andrew Tarantola, “A Nick in Time: How Shaving Evolved Over 100,000 Years of History”