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How To Clean Your Knife

Whether you’re talking about a hunting knife, kitchen knife, or utility knife, they’ve all got one thing in common. Knives have to be kept clean! Keeping your knife spotless and shiny doesn’t just mean it looks good, it means you’ll get the best use out of your tool for years to come. 

Many knives are expensive or highly valuable. You might even have a special attachment to your lucky knife. The best way to care for your knife is to always keep it in optimal condition. So today, we’re going to go over how to clean a knife. 

Why Clean Your Knife

Knives are tough, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need special care. Keeping your knife clean is important so it doesn’t rust, smell, and generally get full of grime and gunk. Even stainless steel can rust, but a few simple steps can keep your knife in pristine condition.

What You Need

Cleaning your knife is no complicated affair. You likely have everything you need. But if you need to invest in a few items, don’t worry. You’ll get a lot of use out of these simple things because cleaning your knife is something you want to do regularly.

So here’s what you need:

  • Your dirty knife (hopefully not too dirty!)
  • Warm water
  • An old toothbrush
  • WD-40
  • Detergent
  • A pair of rubber gloves

How To Clean

Once you’ve got your items together, you’re ready to clean your knife. Just follow these easy steps to get your knife looking its best. 

  1. Make a solution from warm water and MILD detergent
  2. Use the toothbrush to scrub the blade and remove any debris
  3. Dry thoroughly
  4. Finish up by putting WD-40 on the blade

Depending on how dirty or rusty your knife is, you may need to spend more time or repeat the steps. Allowing the WD-40 to soak for around one minute can be useful with stubborn stains.

Mistakes To Avoid

There are a few common mistakes to steer clear of when it comes to washing and cleaning your knife. Here are some actions to avoid:

  1. Don’t let your knife air-dry. Always wipe your knife down and dry it thoroughly. Then, place it in a  dry, clean place or put it away in its sheath.
  2. Even if your knife says it’s dishwasher safe, a good hand-wash is always best. Typical dishwashing detergent is too abrasive and can actually dull your knife. 
  3. Don’t put off cleaning your knife. If you let your knife sit dirty with food caked and dried to it the situation becomes worse. When you have to scrub to get this hard-dried food off your knife, you can dull the blade. So it’s always best to clean your knife right after use.

Tips And Tricks

There are some pretty interesting tips and unusual tricks out there for cleaning knives. It’s probably best to stick with the basics outlined above, but some other cleaning tips worth considering are:


Cork can restore shine. The method is a bit strange, but it works. First you wet a cork with water then dip it in ashes. (Obviously, this only works if you have a fireplace!) Then, just rub the blade along the ashy cork and wipe clean.


Lemon has a lot of household uses, and removing spots is one of them. If you’ve got black spots on your blade, lemon juice can help. You’ll want to create a mixture of lemon juice and water (1 part lemon to 5 parts water). Just soak the blade for about 15 seconds then rinse and dry. 


If you’ve got turpentine lying around, you can add it to your list of knife-friendly ingredients. Turpentine is effective at cleaning rust and white spots on knife blades. To use it, just soak a sponge in turpentine then clean your blade.


It might sound strange, but you can clean your knife with a potato! Starch is actually great for improving your blade’s resistance to stains and rust. Just cut your potato and rub it along the knife. Rinse, dry, and admire your shiny new blade!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to clean a pocket knife?

You can clean a pocket knife using the instructions above. Depending on how dirty your pocket knife is, you can leave the WD-40 on the blade for around one minute before wiping it off. Be sure to get in all the little nooks and crannies. An old toothbrush is a great tool for getting into those hard-to-reach spots.

How to clean a kitchen knife?

For kitchen knives, it’s recommended that you do not use detergent, soak, or air-dry. To clean a kitchen knife, simply wipe your knife down after ever use. You can use water, but don’t let it soak. Dry the knife thoroughly, and don’t allow it to air dry. Replace your knife in a dry, clean place after use. If you need some extra cleaning power, white vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent for kitchen knives.

Can you clean the rust off a knife?

Getting rust off of a knife can be a challenge. But even stubborn rust can be cleaned using the steps above. You’ll just need to scrub a little more than usual. Also, soaking the knife in the detergent solution for a few minutes isn’t a bad idea. This will loosen the rust a bit and make it easier to remove.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your knife is a pretty simple act of maintenance that will keep your favorite tool in tip-top shape. Whether we’re talking about a kitchen knife or trusted pocket knife, it’s best to clean early and often. In other words, clean your knife immediately after use to avoid the need for aggressive, deep scrubbing to eliminate rust, debris, and caked-on gunk. 

If you keep your knife clean, dry, and protected, it should last you quite a long time. Now that you know how to clean a knife, you’re ready to keep your blades shiny, sharp, and in great shape.

If you’re wondering what the best way to sharpen your knife is. We wrote a guide on on the best way to sharpen your knife. Check it our over here!