Whether you use your knives in the kitchen or for other tasks, such as hunting and prying things open, they are there to do a specific job. Like any piece of equipment, knives need to be cared for and maintained so that they will last.
Knife maintenance includes sharpening, honing, and proper storage. It also includes cleaning. Proper cleaning will keep your knife sharp, beautiful, and effective, and extend its lifetime by reducing its vulnerability to rust.
Can you simply toss your knife in the dishwasher? The clear answer from many experts is no, absolutely not. Your dishwasher can cause damage to your expensive, finely-tuned knives.
Why is a Dishwasher Bad for Knives?
There are several reasons why you should never clean your knives with a dishwasher.
Heat and Humidity
High temperatures, moisture, and humidity will certainly cause damage to most knives. Especially vulnerable are blades made of carbon steel, since these are likely to begin rusting, and handles made of wood, since they easily absorb and retain moisture. Wooden handles that are full of moisture will rust the tang of the knife, which will then rust the rest of the blade.
Heat and moisture can also dull knife edges and points. This makes it less effective and can even ruin a knife completely.
Your dishwasher’s water jets cause a fair amount of turbulence, which jostles your dishes a bit. This can cause your knife to bump into other utensils, which can damage the edge of the blade. When you pull your knife out of the dishwasher, it will be clean but chipped, scratched, and damaged.
This is especially true of ceramic knives, which are known for their brittle nature. Just one cycle in the dishwasher will be enough to chip or even break these knives. You’ll be taking out your beautiful ceramic knives in pieces.
Even if your knife doesn’t get significantly damaged, this can still wear down the blade, resulting in dull edges and points. You will find it more difficult to cut anything and need to sharpen the knife more often. This frequent sharpening itself can wear down the blade until you have no choice but to buy a new knife to replace it.
Detergents also cause damage to your knives. They are abrasive (which is how they get your dishes clean) and can scratch knife blades.
Detergents are not just abrasive, they can also cause reactions which will damage your knives. When combined with the hot water, they can react to the steel in your knife’s blade. This may cause dull edges, discoloration, and stains, even on stainless steel blades.
Damage to the Machine and Other Items
It’s not just your knives that could incur damage. Your dishwasher itself could become damaged, as well as your other dishes and even yourself. The sharp edge of your knife will scratch and chip utensils, cups, plates, and other items inside the dishwasher while it’s being jostled around. You can also injure yourself when you reach into the dishwasher to unload it.
How Do You Clean Your Knives Without a Dishwasher?
The good news is, you don’t need a dishwasher to clean your knives. You don’t even need that much time or effort. All you need is hot water. You can use soap if you need to, but try to stay away from anything too abrasive.
Always rinse off your knife as soon as you are finished using it. This will keep food from getting stuck on it. If this does happen, scrub very gently with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge.
Dry the knife as soon as you clean it. This is especially important for carbon steel knives with wooden handles. These types of knives are very susceptible to rusting from moisture, so make sure to dry them completely.
Once the knife has been washed and dried, allow it to finish air-drying. You can then oil it lightly and store it in a dry place away from moisture and extreme temperatures.
Practice Safety and Proper Knife Maintenance by Hand-Washing Your Knives
It might be easier to just toss your knife into the dishwasher with the rest of the dishes, but you will regret it in the long run. The dishwasher will scratch, chip, dull, stain, and otherwise damage your knives. This will lead to a once-beautiful knife looking worn and aged. It will also cause difficulty in using the knife, causing you to sharpen it over and over again until you finally replace it.
You can avoid this by hand-washing your knives in hot, soapy water, scrubbing gently and drying the knife thoroughly after it’s clean. Allow it to air dry, oil the blade, and store it in a dry place. This will keep your knives sharp, efficient, and beautiful.