How to Clean Chef Knives: The Basics And Tips You Can Use Right Away

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 01/21/21 •  5 min read

To properly clean a chef’s knife, one needs to do it by hand. Start by wiping the knife clean, soak it in water for around 1 minute, then scrub it with mild soap and a non-abrasive sponge. Once that is done, rinse the knife and dry it properly before storing it.

When cooks buy their first chef’s knife, they usually want to keep it with them for a long time.

And the secret to making sure any knife lasts you a while is proper maintenance.

Just like with any other utensils, kitchen and chef knives need to be cleaned regularly to keep the kitchen sanitary and also keep your knife in proper shape.

But if you’re new to the culinary world, you might be wondering how to clean chef knives.

Cleaning a chef knife is fairly easy, and one of the most important things to remember is that they need to be washed by hand.

In this article, we go through all the steps of cleaning a chef knife so you can keep your kitchen cutlery in the best shape possible.

Read on to learn more.


Pre-cleaning practices

Before you clean it, there are certain things that you should do.

These include:

Wipe the chef knife clean

A chef knife will be harder and complex to clean if there is debris stuck on it.

After using it, you should quickly run it under running water.

This allows debris or any food particles on the blade to clear and get drained down the sink.

You can easily wipe it down using a dish towel or sponge in case you do not have running water.

Set the chef knife aside till you are ready to do your dishes.

Soak it in water if there are food particles stuck on

At times, food particles can easily get stuck and cannot be wiped off or run down the sink.

In such a case, you should soak the chef knife in shallow water for 1-2 minutes.

After this, it becomes easy to scrub off the food particles, in preparation to clean it.

Avoid soaking it for longer durations as this can cause rusting especially for steel blades.

Cleaning the blade

Once you are set to clean it, you should choose the best mild soap and a soft towel to use for cleaning it.

Lather a towel or sponge in warm, soapy water and hold the blade pointing away from you.

This ensures that it does not pose any safety hazard while cleaning.

Scrub it gently, and ensure that you do not do the scrubbing too fast.

If you do the scrubbing too fast and quickly, the can easily slip and end up injuring your fingers.

After cleaning, the next thing you should do is wash the handle.

Just like for the blade, use soapy warm water and a soft towel to clean the handle.

You can apply more pressure when scrubbing the handle.

It is worth noting that you may need to use hot water when washing the handles in case they are oily and greasy.

Dry it

After cleaning the chef knife, the next thing you should do is dry it using a soft clean towel.

You should wait for it to air dry as this can easily cause rusting and corrosion.

Let the blade face away from you when drying it just like it was while cleaning.

Once dry, you should then store it inside an in-drawer knife cabinet, a knife block, or a magnetic strip.

Tips to follow when cleaning a chef knife

Before you get down to cleaning a chef knife, it is necessary that you familiarize yourself with the whole cleaning process.

This eliminates any likelihood of suffering cuts or other forms of injuries.

The first thing you need to know about cleaning knives is that it is a risky procedure.

Any slight mistake can result in grave injuries.

With this in mind, you need to ensure that you do not hold or touch the cutting edge.

The other thing that you should note about cleaning knives is that you should not wash knives in a dishwasher.

This is because a collision between the blades and other utensils in the dishwasher can easily damage the cutting edge.

This in turn results in dents, chipping, and other forms of damage on the blade and even the handle.

The other thing you need to note about cleaning chef knives is that you should not leave these blades in a sink.

This can be a potential safety hazard as the blades can inflict injuries on fingers when trying to retrieve them underwater.

Also, extended exposure to water can cause corrosion and rust.

What is more, to note about water and knives is that wooden handles are easily damaged by water.


Cleaning a chef’s knife regularly is one of the best ways of caring for your knife.

Some food items are acidic and hence may have corrosive effects on the blade.

This is why it is recommended that you wash it immediately after use.

This goes a long way in ensuring that you enjoy the convenience of using an ultra-sharp chef knife for all your food preparation needs.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.