5 Ways You're Hurting Your Knives (and How to Stop)

Keep your knives (and your skills) sharp.

Kitchen Knife Care
Photo: Lucy Schaeffer

Other than the most essential pots and pans, your knives are the most important tools in your kitchen. Just about anything you want to cook will require a high quality, well-sharpened knife. However, many of us fail to treat our knives with the respect they deserve and, as a result, our knives do not always perform as well as we would like. Here are five ways you aren't caring for your knives correctly and our tips for remedying those mistakes.

Not drying your knives completely before storing them.

Whether your knives are stainless or carbon steel, they need to be stored dry. After cleaning them thoroughly, dry them just as thoroughly—and when we say "thoroughly," we mean bone dry. If left even slightly moist, your knives will rust, and you certainly don't want that.

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Storing your best knives in a drawer.

Knives should not be stored in drawers, period. Aside from the safety hazard, if your knives are kept in a drawer with other tools, there is a chance they will chip or be dulled by contact with other kitchen utensils. Instead, consider a classic knife block to store your knives. Or, opt for a magnetic knife strip to display your knives for all to see.

Modern Innovations 16 Inch Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar: $17 on Amazon

20 Slot Universal Knife Block: $29 at Amazon

Sharpening your knives improperly or not honing them often enough.

Regardless of how nice your knives are or how skilled your technique is, your knives will never reach their full potential if you don't sharpen and hone them properly. Learning both of these skills is crucial for proper knife care, so you may as well learn from the best: Jacques Pépin. How often should you do this stuff? You should sharpen your knives at least once a month and hone them with a steel or ceramic rod (depending on your knives) before or after each use. Once you incorporate these practices into your kitchen routine, the difference in your blades will be night and day.

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Using the wrong cutting board.

If you are using a cutting board that is not made of wood, please stop. Marble, glass and even plastic are not advisable, the latter moreso because of bacteria than being hazardous to your knives, but still. Whenever possible, use a high quality, wooden cutting board and if you have the option, choose one without a moat that surrounds the perimeter. The wooden surface is much less abrasive and much more receptive to metal blades than hard, slippery glass or marble, either of which could chip your knives or cause an accident. (See: The 6 Best Cutting Boards for Every Kitchen Task)

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Letting your wooden handles dry out.

If any of your prized kitchen knives have wooden handles, it is imperative that you treat them with mineral oil from time to time to prevent them from drying out or cracking (and the same is true for cutting boards). Coating a dry wooden handle with a small amount of mineral oil will prevent the handles from long-term damage.

Opinel Beechwood Carbon Steel Paring Knives (Set of two): $24 on Amazon

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