When Must A Knife Be Cleaned And Sanitized?

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Ranging right from housewives to professional chefs, almost everyone will agree that a knife is certainly the most important kitchen tool for them. There are usually several knives in the kitchen, many of which are costly.

Whether costly or not, all knives need proper maintenance if you want them to be your valuable long-term assets. Proper storage, frequent care, and right use are indispensable for lasting sharpness as well as functionality.

One of the important steps to care for your knives is to clean and sanitize them. So, when do you need to do so? Let’s find out in this post.

Cleaning and Sanitizing a Knife: Three Uses after Which You Need to Do So

J.A. Henckels International 31161-201 CLASSIC Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, BlackAs a fact, there is no single or particular answer to when should you clean and sanitize your knives. This is because the precise answer depends on different factors whose impact varies from one user to another.

Although it is helpful to clean and sanitize the blades of your knives, you need to know that a few ones require more frequent cleaning and sanitation due to their usage or foods that they cut. Thus, it depends on the purpose for which a particular knife is used, and accordingly, it is cleaned and sanitized.

Keeping this in mind, following are the various scenes wherein cleaning and sanitization is needed:

  • Cutting a Variety of Foods Using the Same Knife: This is where you use a single knife for cutting different types of foods. For such a knife, you should give proper attention to cleaning and sanitization. For example, if you just used the knife to cut raw meat, you should wash it well and then use it for cutting items such as fruits or vegetables. At the same time, ensure that you do not use the same cutting board for different foods. This is because the bacteria can easily transfer from one item to another to spread contamination quickly.
  • Scaling a Fish: This is the second scene that differs from the aforementioned one. Although here too you are the only one using the knife, you are using it for a single purpose, filleting a fish. Thus, here, it is fine to clean your knife once the filleting and cutting procedures are completed. As there is no other subsequent food item involved or no other person is using the same knife, it is okay to wash the knife after finishing your task.
  • Cutting Different Foods Using the Hands of Many People: This is where many people tend to use the same knife, which is a serious matter and demands meticulous cleaning and sanitization. If many users have used the same knife for handling various foods, it is essential to sanitize the knife before its further use. This will prevent food contamination. If not done thoroughly, it can result in mild to serious health issues.

Why Should You Clean and Sanitize?

Knives are indispensable to prepare food for survival. If they are not regularly cleaned and sanitized, they are likely to be extremely harmful. Such knives can even kill someone. Although asserting that dirty knives can be lethal seems to be an extreme statement, not cleaning or sanitizing them can prove it to be true.

This is because these knives, if not cleaned or sanitized regularly, carry a possibility of cross-contamination that itself is a lethal issue. It occurs by using the same knife on a variety of items. If this happens, the blade and handle become the abode of various microorganisms that attach to every food on which you use the knife.

It is often believed that most viruses and bacteria are killed when the food is cooked at a specific temperature. However, still, there is a risk of potentially harming someone if the food you cut will not go on the flame.

Even if there are no viruses or bacteria, you may inadvertently expose someone to an allergen in food. This can be so severe that the infected person could directly go to the hospital.

The Proper Cleaning Process Revealed!

WÜSTHOF 4582/20 Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife,Black,8-Inch

Now that it is understood how important it is to clean a knife before and after using it, it is time to comprehend how to clean it properly. Most of us tend to wash knives by keeping it for some seconds under the flow of plain water and then consider it as clean.

Well, the fact is that this procedure is not going to clean it properly. This is because it does not remove all the pathogens and microorganisms.

Currently, the environment in which we live is not completely clean, as the air is packed with unsafe pollutants and acts as the breeding space for different bacteria and fungus. This makes it necessary to clean all knives adequately and thoroughly to keep food contamination at bay.

Adequate cleaning means to clean both the edge and the handle, especially the handle’s corners. While cutting ingredients, most particles including even dust get trapped in these corners although it is the blade that does the job.

Then, you need to ensure that you hold the handle while cleaning. Otherwise, the long, sharp blade can make you bleed, again resulting in contamination.

To remove any pathogens or bacteria, always clean the blade as well as the handle using warm water and cleaning soap. Doing so not only sanitizes but also kills the bacteria.

The warm water sanitizes and cleans your knife simultaneously. However, avoid using strong washing soap or harsh chemicals. Otherwise, it will leave unfavorable effects of chemicals on the blade.

Once you have properly cleaned your knife, allow it to dry. For this, use a clean cloth to keep the risk of rust or corrosion at bay.

You may have a question as to how to know whether or not you have cleaned the knife adequately or properly. If you have performed your job well, the knife will look as if you have brought a new one. If it is a bit old knife, it will appear close to this look.

You should not see food debris or any kind of unwanted accumulation on the blade or handle. Another test is to smell it, which should not be metallic or detergent-based.

Handwash or Dishwasher: What to Choose?

Not all knives are dishwasher-friendly. So, it is ideal to wash your knives with hands but by taking all safety precautions so that you do not end up harming yourself.

However, a few knives can be washed easily in a dishwasher. If you have such knives, consider washing them regularly in a dishwasher.

How Frequently Should You Clean Your Knives?

Well, again, there is no exact answer to this question. It depends on how frequently you use your knife and for what purpose. Usually, you should clean every time after using your knife as well as before switching to another food item for cutting.

You should also clean before use, especially if you have not used the knife for a couple of days or if you have brought a new knife. If there are many users of your knife, you need to sanitize before every use. You should also immediately clean the knife if it has been exposed to the acidic ingredients.

The Process of Sanitation Revealed!

Sanitation is required for removing bacteria or microorganisms, as they can negatively affect human health if exposed to humans. It is a process of keeping the risk of disease at bay by controlling or eliminating the environmental factors that are associated with the disease’s chain of progress.

To ensure that knives are adequately sanitized, it is essential to maintain a clean environment. In other words, you need to take care of your surrounding environment too. This is regardless of whether you are a home cook or a professional chef working in a kitchen.

When it comes to maintaining a clean environment, it also involves maintaining other accessories used with the knife. For example, the cutting boards that you use must be as clean as the knife. Thus, you need to wash them after each use as well.

Then, you should also keep an eye on the knife block in which you store your knives. For inspection, just turn it upside down and clean it although there might not be anything inside. Finally, allow it to dry fully before putting the knives back inside.


Sanitizing and cleaning your knife before and after each use is the best way to take care of both food and health. These maintenance steps should always get special attention from your side regularly to keep any kind of contamination away. Otherwise, it can be lethal.

As long as the knives are sterilized well, you can stay assured of their longer lifespans than usual. This helps you to save money, as there is now no need to buy new knives frequently. Remember, while cleaning only removes the upper dirt, sanitizing along with the surrounding environment kills all harmful microorganisms.