How To Clean A Knife & Remove Rust From A Knife

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Aside from pots and pans, kitchen knives are among the hardest working of our kitchen tools. They chop, slice, dice, shred, mince, and julienne every bit of food that we set them to work to, often taking a lot of beating in the process.

With a proper knife sharper, maintenance and care, it’s possible to make use of your kitchen knives for many years. In this guide, we will cover how to clean a knife and how to remove rust from knives in your kitchen.

How To Care For Kitchen Knives

Simple, make sure that your knife is clean, before, during and after you use it. Let me explain further.

Cleanliness is a huge factor in ensuring the longevity of knives. The more grime and gunk that accumulates on it, the more likely it is to lose its edge and be a health concern.

A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one because you need to exert more effort in cutting with a blunt edge (thus increasing the chances of the knife slipping through the user’s hands and causing injury).​

See Also: How To Sharpen A Kitchen Knife

Cross contamination is a high-risk activity. This usually involves cutting a raw item such as chicken and then cutting a “ready to eat” item and without cleaning. Wiping it with a napkin or a wet cloth just doesn’t cut it. The bacteria left on the blade and transfer over to the ready to eat item and cause you to be sick or worse.

You can sanitize your knife by first washing it with soap and water, rinse, and then dry off with a clean piece of cloth. Most steel is non-porous, so bacteria isn’t able to live on them for too long. Some choose to disinfect their knives with bleach as seen on eHow.​

Make sure to clean and sanitize not only the blade of the knife but also the handle and the base where some of the gunk and dirt might lay unnoticed.

Under no circumstances should you wash your knives in the dishwasher. The heat can warp both the blade and handle, rendering your knife useless.​

How To Get Rust Off A Knife

But what if you’ve accidentally left your favorite knife outside from BBQing the night before and it was left in the rain? Sometimes rust may form on a knife if it hasn’t dried quickly.

Removing rust can be trickier to remove than your usual grime. Not only is rust unpleasing to the eyes it can dull a knife’s edge and make it more dangerous. While ingesting the rust on a knife might not hurt you, we suggest avoiding using it to be on the safe side.

Here’s a quick video to show you how to remove rust from knives:

While the knife shown in the video is a pocket survival knife, the technique can applied to your regular, old kitchen knives.

  1. For minor rust damage, you can use a simple solution made out of baking soda and water instead of commercial polishing and rust-removing products that are freely available on the market today. It’s cheaper and safer.
  2. Pour a fair amount of baking soda into a container and then add a little bit of water. Mix it well until the solution nears the consistency of a thick yet runny paste.
  3. Apply the paste onto the blade and use as much as needed to cover the rusted part. Using a small toothbrush work the paste into the blade using gentle but firm circular strokes.
  4. Once you have removed the rust, clean the knife with soapy water, rinse with clean water, and dry immediately!
  5. At this point, you may want to polish your knife and apply a mineral oil made for knives. This should help prevent it from rusting again.

Tips For Rusted Knives

  • Never let steel wool or the scouring pad come into contact with the edge of the knife. This can drastically dull the edge.
  • Make sure that where you store it is free from moisture.
  • In some cases wherein the rust is particularly stubborn, you may want to use steel wool to rub it off. However, do take note that the steel wool might be too abrasive for your blade, and if you push down hard enough, it might engrave scratches on it.
  • A slip of the hand can result in some nasty cuts. Always wear cut-proof gloves when cleaning and caring for your knives.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.