One of the most overlooked pieces of kitchen equipment is the method for proper knife storage. Choosing the best way to store your kitchen knives is a critical step to keeping them in optimal shape.
A lot of people are never taught how to store knives for maximum sharpness and safety, and you’ll end up with dull blades a lot sooner than you should. And a dull knife is a dangerous knife.
How To Store Kitchen Knives Safely — Our Top 5 Recommendations
There are a number of ways to store knives safely in your kitchen, and I’ll go over our recommended top 5 options, in no particular order, along with the pros and cons for each.
- Magnetic knife racks: a magnetic knife rack is mounted on your kitchen wall, and it allows you to store the blades vertically against the magnetic strip.
Pros: It is an easy way to organize your knife blades and keep them safely off the counter. They are quickly available as all you have to do is reach up and grab your knife of choice. And, most importantly, they keep your knife blades stable, which avoids damage to the knife or its edge.
Cons: Magnetic strips put pressure on the tang of the knife when removed, so if you don’t have a full tang knife, it can stress the knife stability over time. Magnetic racks aren’t safe with children in kitchen unless the magnetic knife strip is mounted high enough that even the knife bottoms are out of your children’s reach. And you also can’t use them with ceramic knives.
- Kitchen knife blocks: This is the most common form of storage, since many knife sets come with their own knife block storage, and many people buy an empty knife block to store knives purchased separately. Countertop kitchen knife holders like these seem ideal. However, knife blocks also have some limitations depending on the block itself. Universal knife blocks can overcome some of those issues.
Pros: You’ll have all your kitchen knives in one place, and storing knives in the block can help keep the edge longer, as well as avoiding accidents between fingers and knives when reaching for them.
Cons: If your knife block doesn’t come with your specific knife set, the pre-sized knife slots are may not fit your knives, especially if you do like we do, and acquire additional preferred knives outside the knife block set.
Also, you need to be sure to get a block that stores knives sideways to prevent dulling of the knife blades. If you have to have a vertical storage knife block, store your knives upside down to protect the edges. Unfortunately that does add a safety issue, so sideways storage is best. Or you could find a block that uses plastic storage rods or other material that doesn’t harm the knives resting on them.
- In-drawer knife blocks: If you really want to store your kitchen knives in a drawer, don’t leave them loose. It damages the blades and makes knife accidents very hard to avoid. Using a special knife block made to store your knives in a drawer is critical.
Pros: In-drawer knife storage keeps your knives out of the way and off the counter. That’s useful in small kitchens that have enough drawer space to use this method.
Cons: If you have children, storing knives in a drawer isn’t safe. However, you could install a lock on your knife drawer, but that means it is a pain to access your knives when you need them. Also, the blades would have to be stored upright, and that vertical position puts stress on the blades, just like a block, meaning you’ll have to store them upside down and blade up to protect the blades. Accident waiting to happen!
- Under cabinet knife storage: Much like the in-drawer storage method, storing knives under the cabinet keeps them out of the way but still easy to reach.
Pros: Storage in an easy to access location.
Cons: Unfortunately, like the previous method, you’ll have the issue of storing the blades vertically and putting pressure on the knife or storing them blade up and risking accidents. Also, like storing them under the counter, they are within children’s reach, and you can’t lock a block like this.
- Knife bags or rolls: Knife bags, rolls, and cases are certainly another possibility, and they are popular with people who travel with their knives, especially chefs. You can get them canvas knife rolls or leather knife rolls or bags and they do look cool and professional, but there are pros and cons.
Pros: Keeps knives packed away safely and properly stored to avoid damage to the knives. People who need to pack and move their knives or store them separately and safely in a professional kitchen, such as chefs, will love something like this. And if you are planning on moving soon, you’ll need to have knives safely packed and stored to avoid damage during the move.
Cons: Knife rolls, knife briefcases, and knife bags are a big pain in the tonsils for everyday kitchen use. Who wants to dig into their bag, roll, or hardcase knife briefcase every time you need a knife? And then wash and clean it and have to store it away again? As kitchen knife accessories, knife bag storage is definitely a special case.
What About Storing Kitchen Knives Loose In A Drawer?
Other than using an in-drawer knife block storage method, I strongly suggest avoiding this unless you have absolutely no other choice. Free storage of knife blades in a drawer can chip the handle or the blade itself, knives will dull easily, and you could even break the knife.
If you just don’t have the option for countertop, magnetic strip, under-cabinet, or in-drawer storage, you should definitely invest in a set of knife sleeves or knife blade covers. They are usually made of durable plastic and they’re an excellent investment if you don’t have a storage method to protect the knife blades themselves.
Knife sleeves will keep the blade’s edge longer, and they provide protection from catching the blade with your hand or fingers, so it’s a definite safety feature.
What’s So Important About Storing Your Knives Properly?
The key to keeping your kitchen knives sharp, safe to use, and protected from breaking is to choose a knife storage method that keeps each knife separate from its friends and stable (in other words, no wiggling or moving).
A good set of knives is a big investment over time, and over your lifetime a quality set of knives can be a great benefit. But only if you keep them safely stored and cared for properly. Given that, why wouldn’t you take a little time and effort to store them correctly?
Last Notes On Proper Knife Care Before Storing Knifes
Always clean your knives immediately after use and before storing them away.
There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Sanitary reasons: The longer you wait to clean your knives after use, the more likely the knives will not be washed properly and food particles can accumulate. Also, with poor storage, the knife blades may not be stored in sanitary conditions, meaning reuse could result in an unsanitary blade. Germs anyone?
- Preventing damage to the knife blades: If the blades aren’t completely clean and dried properly before storage, the blades can start to deteriorate and dull the edges or even damage the knife construction.
- Avoiding spotting or metal corrosion: If you work with tomatoes or citrus or other acidic foods, not cleaning, drying and storing your knives immediately and correctly can cause corrosion or deterioration to the metal. Spotting is also pretty common and that is a sign that the blade material is being damaged slowly.
- Avoiding dulling the blades: Washing your knives in the dishwasher — even if they are dishwasher-safe — is a bad practice. In the dishwasher, your knife blades are exposed to damage from knocking against other items. And detergents are harsh on the blades. Plus the high heat of a dishwasher can also deteriorate the blade edge.
Summary — The Best Way To Store and Care For Your Knives
So in summary, you’ve got a lot of options for storing your knives and knife sets safely to avoid damage or deterioration and still maintain knife safety in the kitchen.
Which method you choose is totally up to you and dependent on space in your kitchen, your budget, and your preferences. But choose some knife storage method and stick to it, and you’ll have a set of kitchen knives that hold their edge and perform beautifully for years to come.