How to Care for Cooking Knives & Cutlery

  • Take a moment to think about how often you use your kitchen knives. It’s probably at least a few times a week and maybe even daily, depending on what you like to cook. With so much mileage riding on such a razor-sharp edge, it’s only fitting that you take the utmost care of your knives. For some, that means honing and sharpening your kitchen knives before or after every use, followed by a round of polishing with a leather strop if you really want to keep them in tip-top shape. Your cutting surface also goes a long way toward determining how well your blades hold up over time. Wood, bamboo, and plastic are the best types of cutting boards because they’re soft and forgiving, whereas surfaces like stone, cement, metal, glass, or acrylic will leave your edge permanently jagged and damaged. Another way to avoid chipped blades is to avoid slamming or scraping them against your cutting board. Instead, use smooth motions to cut, and the spine of your blade to clear food from your cutting board into a bowl or pan. Other than that, proper knife care during use is pretty simple. But there are other maintenance considerations like cleaning and storage that can help you get the most of your kitchen knives.

  • Kitchen knife being hand washed with soap in a sink
  • Kitchen knife being rinsed with water in a sink

How to Clean Kitchen Knives

Been cleaning your knives like any other piece of kitchenware? It’s time to rethink your strategy. When washing after use, firmly grip the handle and place the flat part of the blade against an inner side wall of your sink, edge down and tip facing away. Scrub the blade with mild dish detergent, hot water, and a long-handled brush so your fingers stay as far from the edge as possible. Then move your knife to the opposite side wall and scrub the other side of the blade using the same technique. We strongly recommend you wash your knife immediately after you’re finished with it because it’s never a good idea to have a sharp object lying around your kitchen. And when we say wash it, we mean wash it — don’t just leave it soaking in water where someone could reach in and cut themselves. You should carefully dry it as soon as possible too, for both safety reasons and to prevent water spots from forming on your blade.

A final word of caution about washing kitchen knives: Never run them through a dishwater. Dishwashers use caustic cleaners that can eat away at your knives, not to mention that blades are likely to bounce around during a wash cycle and end up with chipped edges. To top it all off, some dishwashers produce water hot enough to re-temper the steel of your blade, rendering it soft and dull.

  • Kitchen knife being being stored in a tray
  • Kitchen knife being stored in a knife block

How to Store Kitchen Knives

Once your knife is honed, sharpened, and cleaned, it’s not enough to just toss it in a kitchen drawer. A loose blade will slide around and rub against other utensils every time you open the drawer, leading to a chipped and dulled edge. You also face the risk of cutting yourself while digging through other utensils to reach the knife, and even worse, young children can easily open most kitchen drawers. We also advise against storing a blade for long periods of time in a leather sheath, which should be used only when transporting it.

The safest places to store kitchen knives are knife blocks and slotted knife trays securely positioned in a drawer (if you choose the latter option, it’s best to keep the drawer locked so children don’t have access to the blades within). You can try a magnetic knife strip, but it must be strong enough to hold your heaviest blade with your ease so sharp objects don’t fall to the floor without warning. Naturally, it must also be set up well above the reach of children. The best kinds of magnetic knife strips are stainless steel with wood in front of the magnets to prevent the metals from rubbing and ultimately rusting.