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How to Clean a Kitchen Knife?

on May 29, 2024

A clean knife not only ensures food safety by preventing bacterial growth and cross-contamination, but it also preserves the sharpness and longevity of the blade. Rust and corrosion can compromise a knife’s effectiveness and appearance, while a dirty knife can be a safety hazard. By regularly cleaning and properly storing your kitchen knives, you can enhance their performance and extend their lifespan.

This guide will walk you through the steps to properly clean a kitchen knife, offer additional kitchen knife cleaning tips, and explain why knives should generally not be placed in the dishwasher. With the right care and maintenance, your knives will remain sharp, rust-free, and ready for safe, efficient food preparation.

How to properly clean a knife in 6 steps

You should clean your kitchen knife after each use to maintain hygiene, safety, and the knife’s longevity. Cleaning prevents bacterial growth and cross-contamination, ensuring food safety. It also prevents rust and corrosion, maintaining the blade's sharpness and appearance. A clean knife is safer to handle, reducing the risk of accidents, and ensures a more sanitary kitchen environment overall. Proper maintenance through regular cleaning keeps your knife in optimal condition for efficient and safe food preparation.

To clean a kitchen knife effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Wash Immediately: Clean the knife as soon as possible after use to prevent food residue from drying onto the blade. If you cannot wash it immediately, at least rinse off any food particles and dry it to prevent rust.
  2. Wash by Hand: Use warm water and mild dish soap (the best knife cleaning solution!) to wash the knife. Avoid using abrasive tools like steel wool, as they can damage the blade or handle.
  3. Point Blade Away: When washing, grip the handle firmly and keep the blade pointed away from you to avoid accidental cuts.
  4. Soak Stubborn Food Residue: If there is stubborn food residue, let the knife soak in a shallow bath of soapy water for a few minutes. This helps loosen the residue and makes cleaning easier.
  5. Dry Immediately: Dry the knife with a towel as soon as possible to prevent rust and oxidation. Avoid air drying, as this can also lead to rust.
  6. Store Properly: Store the knife in a designated knife block, on a magnetic strip, or in a drawer with knife guards to prevent damage and maintain sharpness.

Additional knife cleaning tips

  • Avoid Dishwasher: Do not clean knives in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures and harsh detergents can damage the blades and handles over time.
  • Clean Rust: To clean rust off a knife, create a paste of water and baking soda and apply it to the blade for an hour. Then, scrub off the paste. Alternatively, soak the blade in white vinegar for five minutes and clean it.
  • Handle Care: Handle kitchen knives carefully, washing them one by one and storing them with handles up to prevent damage.


Why are my knives going rusty?

A knife can rust when exposed to moisture, acidic substances, or prolonged contact with water. Situations leading to rust include not drying the knife thoroughly after washing, soaking it in water, especially salty or acidic water, and storing it in damp or humid environments. Cutting acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes without proper cleaning can also corrode the blade. To clean a knife without causing rust, immediately wash it after use with warm water and mild dish soap, avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive materials. Rinse the knife well and dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth to ensure no moisture remains. Store the knife in a dry place, such as a knife block, magnetic strip, or knife sheath, and avoid humid environments.

For additional protection, occasionally apply a thin coat of food-safe mineral oil to high-carbon steel knives, which creates a barrier against moisture. If rust does appear, remove it with a baking soda paste, white vinegar soak, or a combination of lemon juice and salt, followed by thorough rinsing and drying. By following these steps, you can maintain your knives in excellent condition and prevent rust.


Can knives go in the dishwasher?

Knives should generally not be placed in the dishwasher because the high-pressure water jets can cause the blades to knock against other utensils, dulling or chipping them. Additionally, the harsh detergents and high heat used in dishwashers can damage knife handles, especially those made of wood, which can crack and warp. Prolonged exposure to water and high heat can also promote rust and corrosion, particularly in high-carbon steel knives.

Furthermore, sharp knives in the dishwasher pose a safety hazard when loading and unloading, increasing the risk of accidental cuts. When cleaning a knife, it's best to hand wash them immediately after use with warm water and mild dish soap, rinse thoroughly, and dry them immediately with a clean towel.



Maintaining kitchen equipment and knives is essential for ensuring a clean, safe, and efficient cooking environment. For knives, always hand wash them immediately after use with warm, soapy water, then dry them thoroughly to prevent rust and maintain sharpness. Store knives in a knife block, on a magnetic strip, or in a sheath to protect the blades and prevent accidents. For other kitchen equipment, regularly clean appliances like meat slicers, mixers, and food processors by disassembling them and washing removable parts with warm, soapy water. Wipe down the exteriors with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

For larger appliances like ovens and refrigerators, follow the manufacturer's cleaning guidelines, ensuring you clean spills and remove food debris promptly to prevent buildup. Regular maintenance of both knives and kitchen equipment ensures they remain in good working condition, enhancing your cooking experience and kitchen safety.

At Vancouver Restaurant Supply, we understand the importance of maintaining your equipment!