Kitchen knife care: How to care and maintain kitchen knives.


Even if you are a regular home cook, you don’t really need to have a large set of knives for the work you do in the kitchen. But for the knives you do have, it’s essential to make sure you are taking care of your knives as well as possible.

Check out here the best kitchen knives you can buy.

If you consider your chef knife like your right hand, then you need to give it the best care possible. It doesn’t matter how sharp your blade is. It’s still a fragile piece of tool that can be dinged, struck, and damaged with the most insignificant mistreatment.

So, don’t let your good knife turn dull. However, if you treat your blade right, it’ll reward you with so many great meals for a very long time. You can do this by properly cleaning and maintaining them, which will increase its longevity.

However, it is not just by washing the blade after each prepared dish or a meal. But by using different cleaning techniques and maintenance. Here is the ultimate guide on how to care and maintain kitchen knives.

Do not wash it in a dishwasher ever.

Dishwashers use harsh chemicals to wash and will erode the sharp edge of a knife. I have seen this happening even on a high-quality VGMAX/VG10 Shun knife (link to Amazon). It does not handle dishwasher chemicals well. Also, washing your knife in a dishwasher brings in other risks, outside of the fact that it’s awful for your blades, it can be dangerous.

As the water jets spin, the contents of the dishwasher move, and a knife will cut through the cushioned rack and damage it, and in the case of coated steel will impact the steel.

There is also a possibility that the blade will come into contact with other sturdy objects that can damage the edge. Which eventually can lead to the tip to bend or even break.

Dishwashers often sit for hours before running, and if you don’t immediately let your dishwasher run, any type of leftover food on the plates (herbs, sauces, juices) can damage the blade leaving you with stains. Also, the heat, moisture, and detergent can dull the knife blade and cause discoloration.

Once coated steel has the coating damaged, the rack will erode and corrode even more. Add up all the arguments mentioned above, and you will understand why we advise you to wash all your blades by hand.

Do not ever let it soak in water. Soaking damages the higher carbon.

A good knife will usually have a well-trained user behind it (I hope). One that would know not ever to let it soak in water. Soaking for an extended period will lead to rust, and finally, it will damage the higher carbon. The blade is not the only victim here; the same can be said about handles.

With most newer knives, the handles are molded plastic and almost durable. However, high-end knife handles are made out of bone, wood or scale handles that can be damaged by soaking. These are porous items that won’t respond well to being soaked in water.

Once cleaned always dry your knife immediately.

Never put your knife into a wet wooden knife block. Wood absorbs water quickly, and even though you washed your knife correctly, you could introduce mold and mildew into your knife block, which could eventually ruin your kitchen knives, and the worst part? You would not even realize it till its too late.

Doing this will also run the risk of dulling the blade when the knife is placed with other utensils in the bin. So please dry your knife immediately after washing, to prevent any mold or mildew from forming, and store it away.

Never leave it to air dry.

It is not a good idea to leave your knives out to dry. It will make them dull faster and, over time, could cause rust. Rust needs oxygen and water to form. Leaving your knives wet or damp for an extended period means a higher chance you are going to develop rust.

Putting them in a dish rack to dry also leaves the blades exposed to other utensils that might damage your precious tools. Leaving sharp instruments sticking out of a dish rack isn’t the safest idea for you either. It’s to prevent rust. So make sure next time to take that extra 10 seconds to grab a clean dish towel and wipe that water away.

Don’t leave your knives in the kitchen sink. 

Kitchen knife in sink.

Leaving them in the sink is not only risky for whoever washes the dishes, but it’s also harmful to your knives — the edge can get scratched, and eventually, after several times, your edge will get dull. If you, for example, leave them dirty in the sink, I can guarantee you this is the fastest way to invite rust onto your knives.

The chemicals from the food, juices, and all that is in your sink can cause corrosion (which are those brown spots on the blade you see). This causes the edges to become rusty and to dull very fast. So, the moment you are finished using your knife, wash it, dry it, and put it away in a safe place.

Cleaning the right type the right way.

Cleaning the right way is something most people don’t know about. We must keep in mind that there are different cleaning techniques for different types of steel blades. A stainless steel knife should not be cleaned the same way as a carbon steel knife. Improperly cleaning your knife blade will result in premature oxidation.

Cleansing stainless steel knife with hot water and dish soap or any additional soft soap is ok. But be cautious not to use harsh soap and also be sure not to leave your chef knife to air dry after having washed with soap. After rinsing your knife with water, dry it with a cotton rag and store it.

Carbon steel knives, on the other hand, lack the elements that protect the blade from corrosion and thus need more maintenance. Does this mean that they are less suitable than stainless steel blades? No, it only means they need a little more love. Carbon steel blades are actually very common in the world of cuisine.

One of the best ways to clean carbon steel knives and avoiding damaging them is to make sure you wipe them after each use, but it must be done with a clean cloth, and also without passing under running water. Cleaning a carbon steel knife with water is possible, but make sure to take certain precautions to reduce the manifestation of rust and other signs that may develop over time.

Honing regularly and sharpening less.

How to sharpen a Shun knife

Many people know about sharpening, but fewer people know about honing. The reason for this is simple. Generally, people don’t hone basically. That’s it, honing is not something new, it has been here for a very long time. So why am I mentioning this?

Honing is what helps your keep your edge while sharpening is to get your edge sharp. However, sharpening even doing it correctly means you will remove metal, and this means your knife will have a shorter life span. So logically you would want to avoid that.

This is why honing comes in very handy. You should be honing after each use or before each use. But make sure to wipe your knife each time, especially if you choose to do it before.

Sharpening your knife.

Sharpening is like renewing your knife. There are many methods to do it I which I explain in this article thoroughly. Basically, you can use a sharpening steel, a whetstone, pull-through, electric sharpener, or simply send it out to a professional. Some companies will even sharpen it for you for free.

Sharpening is something you cannot avoid; there will inevitably come a time when you need to sharpen your knife. If you keep on working with a blunt knife, you will have to put more pressure on it, making the risk of accidents much higher.

As a result, it is a good idea to keep your knives nice and sharp. In terms of sharpening, I would not recommend waiting until your blade is dull. First, it is easier to keep a fairly sharp than to get a blunt knife razor-sharp. We have listed a lot of information on our website about sharpening your knives. After all, it is something you can easily do yourself.  

The importance of maintenance.

In the beginning, I was a complete novice, and so I had to search on the net and had to ask professionals. The more I searched for answers, the more I understood that maintenance was one of the single most important factors that played a role in extending the lifespan of any blade.

Searching further, I also found out that avoiding damage was an equally important factor. Once I had found these two, I had the feeling I had found my knife’s secret elixir for eternal life.

Storing them properly.

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Storing is as vital as honing and cleaning. If cleaning and honing, I have seen countless times people storing their knives in a loos bin, and doing that can cause a lot of damage to your blade.

My personal favorite is a magnetic strip (link to Amazon), but you can store them in many ways. The one thing you must always keep in mind is, make sure your knives do not move around and are not in contact with other knives.

Don’t store your knives in the utensil drawer.

Now that your knife is clean and dry, you can store it away. But how are you supposed to store it? Or where are you supposed to store it? I previously mentioned how bad it was to have wet knives in blocks. But of course, there are many other places that a lot of people are not aware of that are causing damage to your knives over time.

One of them is throwing an exposed knife blade in a drawer full of other kitchen utensils. Not only is it bad for the edge and but also for you. You run the risk of cutting yourself while searching around, and at the same time, your knife dulls because of the constant contact with other cutlery.

If you have no other choice but to use a drawer, invest in a set of knife blade covers to minimize contact with other utensils. I will go through different methods of adequately storing your kitchen knives in this article, but you should 100% try avoiding storing this way.

There are a few types of storing methods, and each and single one of them has its advantages but also might have disadvantages. Below you can find a list with the most common ways and best ways to store your knives.

Magnetic Wall Strips
Knife BlocksUnder the Cabinet
Drawer Docks
CounterspaceNo ImpactThe Space it Takes Up No ImpactNo Impact
UsabilitySuperbSuperbModerateModerate
SanitationSuperbPoor (traditional wooden blocks) to Superb (magnetic blocks)ModerateModerate
Child SafetyPoorPoorModerateSuperb (especially when paired with drawer child proofing)
PriceInexpensive To Moderately ExpensiveInexpensive To Moderately ExpensiveModerately ExpensiveInexpensive To Moderately Expensive

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

Always cut on cutting boards.

You know what I often see happening right in front of me, people being lazy and just cut on a countertop. Do not ever cut on the countertop, nor on marble, granite, or any surface that solid as it is too hard for the blade, and it will dull very fast.

You should always stick with wood cutting board, the best board is depending on what type of knife you have, but the main thing to remember is it needs to be or something where you can score into. A good cutting board is an essential part of maintaining your knife. 

Not all knives are made equal. 

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Materials used and the construction of a knife play an important role. Buying a quality knife is, of course, always better, and it does make a difference.

This does not mean you need to spend 500$ on one, but you cannot expect buying a 20USD knife (link to Amazon) to have the same longevity and quality of a superior blade. A knife with the price tag between 100$150$ (link to Amazon) should be good enough.

Traveling with your knife.

When you need to relocate, or you are always on route with your knives from one location to another to have the correct type of bag (link to Amazon) is essential.

As mentioned earlier, knives get damaged when they hit each other the same way when they are loose in a drawer, so the same rule applies when they are in a bag.

Having a bag that is made for knives is essential to avoid damaging overtime. Especially if you are continually traveling, you will have this problem without a doubt. So again, as mentioned many times, avoiding damage is very important

No damage means no maintenance needed.

Just think like this, any damage to your blade means that it needs to be sharpened. The more you sharpen, the more metal it will lose. The more metal lost, the shorter the lifespan. If you do not know how to sharpen correctly, you may lose more than you should.

Check how to sharpen your knife the best way possible, or believe me, you will regret it in the long run. The bottom line, if you follow the main guidelines on how to avoid damaging your blade and do regular maintenance, you will be able to use your knife for a very long time.

Not using it at all.

Not using your knife may sound like it will stay safe, and nothing will change if you don’t touch it, but that really depends on how it was stored and also what you do overtime. A knife that has not been touched for an extended period might not be as sharp as it was.

In fact, it might even be dull. This happens due to several reasons. It may be that you had not stored it correctly. Oxidation is the second biggest threat, as it may rust your knife, and rust leads to a dull knife.

You did not oil your blade from time to time, which is something that is recommended. So a lot can happen even though you have not touched it. I go through in detail in regards to this topic here. But the main problems are already mentioned here.

Using the same knife for every task.

Using the same knife for every task is very common. The main reason for this is because a lot of people simply do not have many knives to work with. So, they will try and work with what they have, which I understand entirely.

But, it is essential to know that the more pressure you would put on a knife that is not meant to do what you are trying to do, the more it will dull. You are not meant to cut a piece of bone with a peeling knife. Doing so not only endangers you but also damages the blade overtime.

Never use a chef knife for anything other than cooking.

Your knife is not a can opener, so please do not use it as one. The amount of damage you are dealing with your knife when opening a can with. It is immeasurable. Chef knives are not made for these types of tasks.

If you really must use it or simply do not have another option, buy a second very cheap knife and use that one as a can opener, but I simply cannot agree to open a can with a 150USD (link to Amazon) chef knife I am sorry.

Correct usage

You probably have seen wanna be chefs banging their knives and slicing that cucumber as fast as they so they can look cool. Well, bagging hard with your knife is dulling it as equally hard. Depending on the type of knife you own, you may work with it, not correctly.

Let’s take two knives in this example, Chef knife and the santoku knife. Both very common. Both are also all-purpose knives, and yet they are not used the same way.

Why? Their shape makes you work that way. One needs more of a slicing motion while the other is more push motion. If you do not use your knife correctly, then you are dulling it without realizing it. 

Alternative care tips for kitchen knives.

White Vinegar!

White vinegar has excellent cleansing attributes for many things. What you probably do not know is that it can also be used to clean kitchen knives too. Sweeping with heated white vinegar will increase its performance. The single thing you need to do is rub the blade with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and dry it with another clean cloth!.

Potatoes

Say what? Can you use a potato to clean your kitchen knife? Yes! The substance called starch in the potato increases steel’s endurance to rust and is a perfect, natural way to cleanse your knife blades. Just get yourself a half potato and rub it on the edge of your knife. Then simply clean the knife and dry it, and voila!

Turpentine

A sponge completely soaked in turpentine is another efficient way to clean your kitchen knife. It is useful at removing oxidation and white spots. Turpentine is in the same category as white vinegar. Their chemicals have similar properties. However, the latter should not be heated.

Lemon

Have you ever noticed black spots after prolonged use on your blades? That is aged rust, my friend, and this means you have not kept your knife clean. But, no fear cause lemon is here! Lemon is ideal for removing black spots.

To wash your kitchen knife with lemon, soak the knife in a blend of lemon juice and water (1:5 ratio of lemon to water should be enough) for a few seconds, then wash it and dry it with a soft cloth. If needed, repeat the process until you are satisfied with the results.

Cork

If you have an all-time favorite knife, which you have been using for a very long time, it may not have its old shine anymore. Cork is ideal for restoring shine to your kitchen knife blades. Wet a cork with water then plunge it in ashes from a fireplace. Brush the blade with that same cork and wipe it clean, and you will be surprised by the results.

Conclusion.

Your knife is like your second hand in the kitchen, and you want to treat it that way. It deserves your respect. The main thing to remember here is always to try to avoid damaging your blade. If you can manage to do that, you have won half of the battle.

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