How to Clean an Old Pocket Knife? Steps by Steps

by wpx_admin
Updated on

You don’t even need to be so handy to appreciate the usefulness of a pocket knife. It comes in handy for small and delicate cutting tasks, but not so much when the knife is dirty and dull. Asides from the ineffectiveness, cutting with a dirty or dull knife can be dangerous.

I got my first pocket knife as a gift from my grandfather when I went to college, and for the first couple of years I owned it, I paid it no attention. Out of sheer sentimental reasons, I finally decided to clean it and get rid of the dirt and rust. However, I have found the pocket knife extremely useful ever since.

Today, I would love to share from my personal experience what I have learned about restoring pocket knives to prime condition. If you own one and you need tips, and on how to clean an old pocket knife, I have some exciting tips for you below.

What You Need to Clean an Old Pocket Knife?

Thankfully, you won’t be needing a lot of special supplies. Typically, all the tools and supplies required are things you can have easy access to.

Rubber Gloves

While some people do have a go at handy tasks like this without wearing gloves, I would say rubber gloves are kind of a necessity when you’re restoring a pocket knife. Thick rubber gloves, to be precise. They protect your hands from injuries, and they make the cleaning process less messy.

A Small Brush or Sponge

You need either of these to get rid of dirt, sand, grime, and minor rust from the knife. You don’t need to buy a new brush for this, as you can use an old toothbrush or any other suitable replacement. You can even use a sponge for this process, but if your pocket knife has got serrated blades, you should stick with a brush.

Tooth Pick

The folding mechanism used in pocket knives may cause dirt or lint to get stuck in hard-to-reach spots. You need toothpicks to get rid of the lint before you dive into the cleaning proper.


You can make use of any typical household lubricant. You need one to get rid of mild rust stains and also to lubricate the moving parts of the knife after cleaning.


You need mild soap/detergent to effectively wash out the dirt and grime.

Nylon Pad

A nylon pad has a bit of abrasiveness to help you scrub out rust stains, but not so much that it disfigures the knife blades or handle.

How to Cleaning Your Pocket Knife?

The process of cleaning a pocket knife is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Remove the Lint

For this step, you need to have the knife open. If the knife has multiple blades, like a lot of pocket knives, open all the blades so you can have easier access to the pivot point. Pay more attention to the pivot part and if you notice any lint or accumulation, get them out with the toothpicks. You don’t have to necessarily disassemble the parts to do this.

Step 2: Rinse under Running Water

After removing the lint, take the knife to a sink and rinse under running water. Preferably, rinse the knife under warm water. Flush the inside of the handle and other parts to get rid of all loose dirt and to prepare the tool for more thorough cleaning.

Step 3: Scrub and Rinse

Apply only mild soap and scrub down on the blade thoroughly with a brush or sponge. In addition to the blade part, scrub the turning points and other interior parts. You should also take your time to get rid of all dirt and grime from the locking mechanism.

It may seem like a great idea to use an abrasive sponge to get rid of deep-seated dirt, but you ought to be careful. Abrasive materials may cause excessive scratches to the blades and handle. If you find it hard to get into the grooves and corners, make use of a toothpick or Q-tip. Next, rinse the knife and dry it with a soft fabric.

Step 4: Remove Rust

Old pocket knives are bound to have some rust on them. You can get rid of minor rusts with a suitable lubricant. WD-40 gets rid of rust, and it’s a suitable lubricant to use. Apply a lubricant of your choice and wait for a couple of minutes for it to get effective. This time, scrub carefully with a nylon pad and rinse. You can repeat this process for as long as it takes to get rid of the rusty stains.

Nevertheless, if you find the rusty stains too stubborn, you may need to carry out some additional cleaning steps. I’ll discuss that later on.

Step 5: Clean and Lubricate

After the whole cleaning process, you need to lubricate the knife thoroughly to get it working well. There are several lubricants you can apply, from normal machine oil to any other household oil. I advise that you apply mineral oil or even vegetable oil if you plan to use the knife on food items.

Apply the lubricant, in small quantity, to the pivot and other moving parts. Open and close the blade severally to get the lubricant to the hidden parts of the joints. Wipe away the excess oil with a paper towel or soft fabric afterward.

READ NEXT: How To Test Knife Sharpness: 5 Best Ways

How to Restore a Rusty Pocket Knife?

So, what if you have an old pocket knife that has become too rusty to clean by following the simple steps discussed above? You can still clean with everyday household supplies and have your knife come out in a prime functional state.

Baking Soda

If you have baking soda around, you can clean out rust from thin blade pocket knives with stains that are resistant to normal lubricants. Simply mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the rusted portions and wait for an hour or two. At this level, you can use a more abrasive material like a steel wool or a wire brush. Scrub the rust away, rinse with water, and dry the knife.


Vinegar is another effective substance you can use to clean a rusty pocket knife. As you probably know, vinegar is used in many home remedies, and cleaning is one of them. Immerse your pocket knife into a vinegar solution and leave it to soak overnight. Afterward, scrub out the rusty stains with steel wool or wire brush. You may have to repeat this step a couple of times to get rid of all the stains. Wash with mild detergent and water, and dry thoroughly after cleaning.


Like I have been able to show you, cleaning an old pocket knife or a chef’s knife is straightforward and not so complicated. If you have neglected an old pocket knife because it has gathered so much dirt and rust, all you need are some household tools and supplies to restore it to a prime functional condition in no time. If you found this article informational and helpful, be sure to share it with friends, family, and people who may find it useful as well. Do you have any thoughts you would share? Kindly do so in the comment section below.


Use a dynamic headline element to output the post author description. You can also use a dynamic image element to output the author's avatar on the right.

Leave a Comment