How long should a kitchen knife last?


Ever wondered how long a chef knife lasts? Maybe you recently bought a brand new kitchen knife and are in love with it. Or you have an all-time favorite knife and wish to keep for as long as possible? But you wonder, how long will you be able to use this knife?

How long your kitchen knife should last depends on how you handle it and how often you use it. By not abusing it and using the right cutting board, your knife should last you a lifetime. Propper maintenance and regularly honing will not only keep its sharpness but also extend its lifespan for a very long time.

How do I make sure my chef knife lasts me for a long time? This was the question I asked myself many years ago. At school, they thought us that maintenance was vital to this. But, what does maintenance mean? Yeah, I sharpened my knife from time to time. But going further, especially once I started to work as a chef in a restaurant, I learned that there is so much more to it than just that. At home, my knife would have lasted me maybe 2-3 years and I had to dispose of the one I had and would go and buy another one (I know, it’s bad). But now that I know what I know, I have not bought any knife ever since.

Maintain and storing correctly.

An easy way to look at maintenance is to split it into 3 pillars. Each and every single one of them leads to a longer life span for your knife. The first is washing and cleaning correctly, second is avoiding damage, and the third is storing correctly. If you follow the rules for those 3 correctly, you will have won 80% of the battle. The last 20% is much smaller, like how to use your knife correctly and safely, and as significant, but still things that should be ignored.

Cleaning.

Let me first start by saying to never ever put your knives in a dishwasher. You could really damage your knives by doing so.

Cleaning is the first pillar of correct knife care. So doing this part correctly is crucial. There are different cleaning techniques for different kinds of knives. To give an example, stainless steel cannot be cleaned or washed the same way as a carbon steel knife. If you fail to do so it might result in premature oxidation

If you wash a stainless steel knife using hot water and mild soap, you are still in the safe zone. But if you choose to use harsher chemicals you are taking a huge risk. So try avoiding any type of harsh chemicals and wash it by hand and quickly.

But if we are talking about washing carbon steel knives, they are in a different category. Because carbon steel does not have the same protecting elements as stainless steel. Thus need more love. Many knives are made out of carbon steel so you might need to check yours.

The ideal way to wash carbon steel knives and making sure you are not damaging them is to wipe after each time you have used them. Washing them just in plain water is ok, just make sure to avoid rust. You can do this by, washing your knife straight after each use and also dry with a cloth after each wash. Below I have written some tips that you should avoid at all cost.

  • Do not ever let it soak in water. Soaking damages the higher carbon steels (including high carbon stainless), causing the steel to rust.
  • It would be best if you did not use soap of any kind  
  • Once cleaned with a damp sponge always dry the blade immediately with a clean and dry cloth
  • Never leave it to air dry
  • Storing in a dust-free drawer or knife block is recommended.

Avoiding damage

Avoiding damage is the 3rd and the last pillar of knife care, but it can be one of the most essential as it directly affects how long your knife will work for you. If you can avoid damage, you won’t need to do half of what I have mentioned in this article. I have made a list in this article about the things you should not be doing with your knife. It has all you need to know on how to avoid damage.

Storing 

Storing is the second pillar when it comes to prolonging the lifespan of your knife. The importance of storing is something that should never be neglected. I have made a list below with options on how to store your knife. All of them are storing methods that are ideal and help you prolong the lifespan of your knife.

  • Magnetic Wall Strips
  • Knife Blocks
  • magnetic knife block
  • Under the Cabinet
  • Drawer Docks

Each of them has its benefits, pick one that suits you best depending on your situation.

Knife quality and longevity.

Having an expensive knife makes a difference, and how long your knife will last also correlates with it. So if your blade is made of high-quality materials, it will last for a longer time. However, this does not mean you can ignore your knife, and everything is ok. If you do not adequately take care, even the best knife out there won’t last and will get dull or even worse, permanently damaged.

You should be honing more.

Another neat thing to prolong the lifespan of your knife is honing. Honing is putting back the edge to its place, and sharpening is to remove metal to sharpen its edge. Honing regularly and sharpening the correct way only when it’s needed is what you should always aim for, the more your sharpen the shorter the life span of your knife will have because you removed too much metal. What does regularly honing mean? You should do it after every 2 to 3 use. Also, make sure to clean right after having honed it.

Use your knife correctly and safely.

Although I will not go into details about this in this article, I want to quickly go over a few things when it comes to using your knife correctly and, more importantly, safely. If you are using the wrong type of cutting board or if you are cutting in a way that damages your knife (like chopping too hard on your board), you are hurting your knife and thus also shortening its lifespan.

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