Cleaning knives may seem like a simple task, and it is, but here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
- Washing knives by hand is generally recommended: using a soft brush or rag to avoid scratching the blade and putting a cap full of bleach in the water for sanitizing; rinsing knives with warm water and wipe dry with a clean towel. Wiping dried knives with a mineral oil is highly recommended for carbon steel knives and particularly useful for slicer machine blades.
- Dishwashers used with recommended quantities of cleaning chemicals are appropriate for knives with nylon (plastic) handles; however, knives should be loaded carefully and visibly. Wood-handled knife handles do not respond well to a dishwasher’s extremely hot water and chemicals. Being washed in a dishwasher over time, handles will lose their color, and cracks will to develop in the wood. A commercial dishwasher can severely damage a wood handle.
- The good news is a knife does not have to go through a dishwasher to be properly cleaned and sanitized. A quick dunk in or quick wipe with diluted bleach solution is plenty to achieve the full effects of bleach. After using any bleach method make sure to thoroughly rinse the knife with warm water. Overuse of bleach will destroy wood handles, eat away at some types of nylon handles, and can cause pitting in even the highest quality stainless steels.
- Knives should never be left in any type of water solution for extended periods of time. Cutting boards are most often made of wood or plastic, and these are two of the best surfaces to use. Both surfaces tend to be relatively soft and minimize any damage to the knife edge.