How to Care For Your Kitchen Knives

Three Methods:Keeping Your Knives SharpCleaning Your Kitchen KnivesSharpening Your Knives

No matter the quality of material, knives can rust and corrode over time without proper care. A properly cared for kitchen knife will last for years and provides a perfect cut every time. Take care of your kitchen knives by keeping them cleaned, sharpened, and maintained.

Method 1
Keeping Your Knives Sharp

  1. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 1
    Use cutting boards that are plastic or wood. Despite how much more glamorous steel, ceramic, granite, or steel can seem, they are all surfaces that can make knives dull.[1]
  2. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 2
    Refrain from using knives as cleavers or chisels. Yes, they are cutting instruments, but they cannot be used to hack hard and unbending products like bone or anything frozen.[2]
  3. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 3
    Steer clear of leaving knives in the sink. Wash them separately and always make sure that they are hand dried. Leaving them to soak in a sink of water is asking for corrosion along their fine edges, stainless steel or not.[3]
  4. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 4
    Sharpen and hone your knives. Sharpen your knives at least once a year, either at home with a stone or using a professional sharpening service. Honing your knives regularly is one of the most important ways to keep them sharp. This is elaborated on with more detail in later steps.[4]
  5. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 5
    Find a good place to store your knives. It is important that knives are not kept loosely because they could break, become dull, or chip at their handles and blades. [5]
    • Place kitchen knives on the wall. Mount a magnetic strip on your kitchen wall above the counter.[6]
    • Store kitchen knives on the counter. Countertop storage options are fairly common in knife storage. Instead of going with the standard knife block that comes with most knife set purchases, buy a block that does not include pre-sized slots.
    • Place knives in the drawer. Prevent knives from roaming freely in drawers and potentially nicking one another by installing in-drawer storage units to hold them in place. This not only protects the blades, but also protects fingers when searching for the knife you want to use.

Method 2
Cleaning Your Kitchen Knives

  1. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 6
    Clean your knives after each use. Wash the knife individually while holding the knife so that the top of the blade is pointed away from you. Avoid submerging knives completely underwater and instead use a dishcloth to gently wipe the blade: the dull top side first and then the sharper edge.[7]
    • For a deeper, slightly more aggressive clean, use a sponge instead of a dishcloth.
    • To prevent hurting yourself while you clean your knife, consider setting the knife on the flat surface of a countertop and wash the knife one side at a time.[8]
  2. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 7
    Sanitize the knife. Wipe knives clean with an alcohol wipe or wash and rinse clean before and after food preparation.[9][10]
  3. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 8
    Skip the dishwasher. It might be tempting to wash knives the easier route with whatever dishes you place in your dishwasher, but due to the humidity, excess water, heat, and harsh detergent, rust and decay for your knives can be a consequence of its use.[11]
    • Knives may also chip within packed dishwashers as a result of objects rubbing against its blade.
    • Washing your knives by hand ensures a gentle, targeted clean.
  4. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 9
    Keep clean knives dry and oiled. Dry the knife with the same method as you did with cleaning, with the blade pointed away and from top to edge. Apply mineral knives to kitchen knives, particularly carbon kitchen knives, are vital to overall maintenance.
    • To prevent rust from eating away at the blade and creating contamination, oil your blade with mineral-grade oil 2-3 times a year.
    • Mineral grade oil can also be used to clean knives by wiping a cloth with oil and using it as a cleaner.

Method 3
Sharpening Your Knives

  1. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 10
    Sharpen your knives. There are a variety of ways this can be done, but the most common ways are using a diamond stone or a whetstone, or water stone. Follow up with a honing steel to align the knife.
  2. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 11
    Saturate the whetstone. Wet your whetstones, or water stones, by submerging them into water for at least 45 minutes. The surface of the water stone has to be wet while the knife is being sharpened against them.[12]
    • Keep a bowl of water nearby to moisten the stone as needed.
    • Allow mud to build up on the surface of the water stone. This will benefit the sharpening process by creating an abrasion for the knife’s edge to grind against.
  3. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 12
    Position the stone so that its shorter side is parallel to the end of the counter. Hold the edge and the handle of the knife against the surface of the stone.[13]
    • Use your free hand to hold the blade of the knife steady.
    • Ensure that both of your hands are at a 15-20 degree angle as you prepare to make the first stroke.
  4. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 13
    Apply moderate pressure and drag the knife forward. The knife should be sharpened against the grain and slid slowly and evenly towards you and the edge of the counter. The knife should be flat against the water stone and at a constant 15-20 degree angle.[14]
    • At the end of the stroke, the tip of the knife blade should be the last point remaining on the stone.
    • Once the tip of the knife touches the bottom of the water stone, reset the motions, and begin the stroke again.[15]
    • Repeat the action several times. When one side is thoroughly sharpened, turn over the knife to work the other side against the water stone.
    • Have your knives sharpened at least once a year, depending upon use.
  5. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 14
    Hone, or steel, your knives after sharpening for alignment. To steel a blade, hold the knife flat against a surface and slide it along, gradually raising the back of the blade until it begins to cut into the surface. From there, take your steel in one hand, and hold the back corner of the knife's edge to the end of the steel closest to you.
    • "Sweep" the blade towards the tip of the steel, making sure that all of the length of the blade comes in contact with the steel.
    • Do this “sweeping” technique against the honing steel ten times for each side of the blade.
  6. Image titled Care For Your Kitchen Knives Step 15
    Test the sharpness of your knife by doing some prep. Access its efficacy, its level of resistance, its precision in making really thin cuts, etc. If it needs to be sharpened more, start the sharpening process over again until you have the slice you like.[16]


  • If you have to store your knives in a drawer, make paper sheathes for them by taking a piece of heavy paper or cardboard, folding it over the knife, and taping it.
  • Use the right knife for the right purpose. A fillet knife might be damaged if you try to cut bones with it, and filleting a fish with a butter knife would take forever.
  • If you wash your knives in the dishwasher, carefully place them in a way that they can not bang around during the cycle. Otherwise, the blades could be damaged.


  • When working with a knife, handle only the back of the blade!
  • Believe it or not, a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. A dull blade requires more effort to work, and increases the chance of slipping and cutting yourself with it.
  • The most common cause of wear of the cutting edge of a knife is due to contact with the cutting board surface. Wooden and plastic boards are better and have a much lower dulling effect. For the best result use very soft disposable paper or card cutting board.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen knives
  • A steel/honing steel (comes with most knife sets)
  • A magnetic strip knife rack
  • A knife block
  • An in-drawer knife storage unit
  • A water stone

Article Info

Categories: Cooking Knives and Blades