A great set of kitchen knives is not something that you should have to replace often. To get the most out of your knives for as long as possible, proper care is priority number one. Maintaining a kitchen knife does not take much effort, only a little bit of persistence and consistency. If you stick to these basic tenets for knife care, you will be able to count on them for years to come.

1.      Keep Your Knives Clean and Dry


Most kitchen knives available are made of stainless steel, which is a rust and corrosion-resistant material. Even so, neglecting your stainless steel knives may lead them to rust along the side of the blade and knife edge. This is especially true for carbon steel knives. Since the stainless steel in it is diluted by carbon, a carbon steel knife is more vulnerable to corrosion and rust despite being a stronger material.

Knives are especially likely to corrode over time after being used on acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, onions, and other common kitchen staples. Especially in the case of working with acidic foods, and a best practice after working with any others, cleaning your knives immediately after use is highly recommended.

Clean your knives as soon as you can after using them to avoid wear. Wash with mild soap and hot water, and if you are not going to wash your knife immediately, make sure not to leave it soaking in the meantime, as this can cause bacteria to build up in the handle. After washing your knives, dry them immediately with a clean towel, as letting them air dry will make them more likely to rust.

Tip: You should not be washing your kitchen knife in the dishwasher, especially if the handle is made from wood or resin. The length of time in high temperature water is not good for most kitchen knives, especially the handles. Like soaking knives in the sink, the dishwasher is more likely to damage the blade and cause bacteria to build up in the handle.

2.      Oil Your Blades

If you have a knife set that you would like to keep for life, a great way to increase the knives’ longevity is by oiling them on occasion. Every so often after cleaning and drying your knives, very carefully wipe the blades with a neutral or mineral oil and a towel. Make sure not to leave behind any sticky oily residue; after wiping the blades the oil should not be visible.

3.      Maintain the Edges of Your Knives

When it comes to maintaining sharp blades, there are two common methods: using a honing steel (often mistakenly called a sharpening steel) or a knife sharpener.

A honing steel is a slender metal rod that, when applied to the dull edge of a blade at the correct angle, flattens any small dings or bumps by pressing them back into a straight, sharp edge. Many knife sets include honing steels, which are highly recommended for blade maintenance.

A knife sharpener, on the other hand, shaves away little bits of material from the cutting edge of a blade to leave a sharper edge. This process is usually faster and easier for a new cook to use than a honing rod, but they do result in a shorter overall lifespan for your knives due to the regular shaving of the edge.

If the aesthetic suits you, a classic but somewhat demanding process is sharpening with a wet stone. Wet stones are rectangular blocks with coarse surfaces that essentially file the edges of your knife blades. Wet stones can be used with water or mineral oil and the motion of sharpening your knives with them is similar to the process of using a honing rod.

No matter your preference, keeping your knives sharp is important not only for ensuring that they cut smoothly and easily, but it also keeps you safer from instances of your knife slipping. Dull knives are more likely to catch on the food they are cutting and then slip and cut the user.

Tip: If you have purchased high-end or luxury kitchen knives and are nervous about properly sharpening them yourself, many knife manufacturers and dealers will let you send your knives back for professional sharpening. William Henry offers knife sharpening for any William Henry knife for the cost of shipping. Fill out this form and you will have your sharpened knives back within a few weeks.

4.      Revere the Cutting Board


There is no debate, you should always use a cutting board. Cutting on a plate can lead to messy and dangerous mishaps, and cutting on your countertops is horrific in itself. If you need a cutting board, there are a few options to consider.

Like with many things in the kitchen, decisions need to be made that often lie someplace between aesthetic preference and overall effectiveness. Glass cutting boards and marble cutting boards, for example, are often very pleasant to look at, but can be incredibly damaging to your kitchen knife. The hard, inflexible surface is more likely to dull, or even chip, your knife blade.

Next in common aesthetic preferences are wood boards, which also happen to be a great option in almost all regards. Wooden cutting boards are softer than the previous materials mentioned and are better for your knives. The downside is that since wood is more absorbent, these boards cannot be washed in a dishwasher, and often need to be washed immediately to avoid staining and bacteria.

Usually the most affordable options are plastic or synthetic cutting boards. These are usually lighter, thinner, easier to store, and can be washed in a dishwasher or left to soak. That is an especially big benefit as you can feel more secure that your cutting boards are sanitized after cutting meats on them. The surfaces are soft enough for your blade to stay sharp, and some options even have an improved grip to avoid slipping.

Tip: As tempting as it is, try not to scrape food bits off of your cutting board with the blade of your knife. This is certain to get you to a dull knife faster, and is an all around bad idea.

5.      Use Your Knives as Intended


It is simple, use your kitchen knives for working in the kitchen. Using your knives for things that are not food related will almost certainly make them go dull faster, potentially get chipped, and ultimately not do the odd job all that well. Knives can surely get your package open quickly and cut loose threads, but activities like these should still be avoided. Using your knives for opening things like jars or cans is a particularly bad idea since they are much more likely to bend or chip, and/or suddenly come loose and get you with a bad cut and dull knife.

In addition to using your knives only for food, try to reserve your more specialized blades for their particular purposes. Cut your softer foods like bread and tomatoes with serrated blades, which can slice back and forth without crushing your soft food under a pressing force.

In that vein, filet knives should be used for fileting, boning knives for boning, cleavers for cleaving, and so on. Using any of these knives for purposes they are not intended for just increases the chances of them getting damaged, or you getting hurt.

6.      Store Your Knives Securely

A seemingly simple part of knife maintenance that is often overlooked is storage. Keeping all of your knives loose in a drawer with other utensils is bad for the health of the blade, as well as your safety when reaching into the drawer.

The best practice is to get something to hold your knives, be it a knife block or a magnetic strip. A knife block is a nice piece on any counter, and you can buy a knife block with the right amount of slots for the number of knives you have.

If you would prefer not to take up counter space with a knife block, a magnet strip is another pleasant option. Magnetic strips can be placed on any wall or surface at your preference. After washing and drying your blades, just stick them onto the magnet strip and they will be out of the way and on display.

If you cannot be dissuaded from storing your knives in a drawer, or just have fewer knives and no need for a way to store more, you can purchase individual knife guards or sheaths for your knives. That way, they can safely be stored in a drawer without clashing into other knives or utensils.

William Henry has stunning options for luxury Damascus steel kitchen knives, and has a number of resources on kitchen knives and men’s luxury accessories. Click here to explore our catalog today.