Most people don’t give much thought to the best way to clean your kitchen knives. After all, it’s a knife, right? A kitchen utensil of sorts?
Why You Need To Clean Your Knives The Right Way
“Dishwasher-safe” is one of the most dangerous phrases you can hear or read about your knives, especially if you have expensive kitchen knives.
How To Avoid Damage To Your Knives
Washing them in the dishwasher — even if they are dishwasher-safe — is a bad idea. In the dishwasher, they can be damaged, nicked, and dulled by knocking against other items. And pretty much all dishwashing detergents are harsh on the blades. Plus the high heat of a dishwasher itself can also deteriorate the blade edge. Dishwashers dull blades, period.
Avoid Damaging Your Hands, Dulling the Blade, and Having Unsanitary Knives
And people’s second favorite way to wash their knives, especially common when you are cooking and using a lot of knives, is to toss them in a container to soak in hot water until you’re ready to clean them.
Have you ever reached into that hot, soapy container and nicked yourself? I have. And I don’t use that method any more. The other problem with the “soak” method is that you’re leaving the knives to sit, and even hot water and “exposure” to soap won’t clean off the food residue and particles. And the longer you let them sit, the more embedded those things get. This can lead to dulling of the blades or lack of proper sanitation.
Avoiding Corrosion and Rust on Your Knives
Soaking the knives, or leaving them to sit on a towel to dry, increases the chance of corrosion or rust. Drying them immediately helps prevent this.
Carbon steel knives require slightly more maintenance than stainless steel knives, but both can rust over time without proper care. The Wusthof knives tend to only show the occasional small spot, and this can be fixed using a couple of different methods.
Treating Corrosion and Rust On Your Knives
The first — and best — method I recommend uses a baking soda slurry. Pour some baking soda on the spot and add a bit of water to create a paste. Grip the blade (keep away from the edge) between your index finger and thumb and rub the paste on the spot as if you are polishing the blade. Then clean, rinse, and dry your knife thoroughly.
You could also try soaking the blade for a short time in a mild acid like vinegar. However, I think the baking soda paste works far better and is easier on the knife blade, especially if you were to forget about your soaking knives and leave them in the acid bath.
So What Is the Right Way To Clean Your Knives?
Like your mother told you as a kid for your hands — it applies here as well to cleaning your knives effectively. Avoid the germs by washing them immediately after use with really warm, soapy water, and drying them on a clean towel. (Not blistering hot water like the dishwasher, because that damages the blades.)
One special note: If you have carbon steel kitchen knives, they can start to rust without you even knowing. You should oil this type of knife with food-grade mineral oil immediately after use to help prevent corrosion. Thanks to Wikihow for that tip.
As you can see, properly cleaning your knives easy to do. Finish what you’re cooking. Take your knives to the sink, and use the softer liquid dishwashing soap and really warm water to clean your blades one by one, rinse them to clear soap and residue, and then dry them on a soft clean towel. Then store them in your knife storage right away to keep the now-sanitized blades clean.
That’s all takes. A bit of diligence after use. And an easy way to clean them. No need to over-think it (I used to).