Care Of Kitchen Knives: When Must A Knife Be Cleaned And Sanitized?

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The need for proper sanitization while working with food for consumption cannot be overemphasized. This situation is why every health-conscious person is often seen sanitizing their clothes, hands, kitchen utensils, etc. Consequently, everyone would agree that the knife is one of the essential kitchen accessories that you should sanitize at all times.

Therefore, it is vital to answer the question; when must a knife be cleaned and sanitized?. The answer helps to properly guide newbies in the kitchen and save them from food poisoning. Keeping them clean also ensures that they last long and can serve you for a long time.  In this article, we’ll be sharing tips on when and also how you should clean and sanitize your knives.

When is the right time to clean and sanitize a knife?

The simple trick to this is to sanitize whenever you utilize your knife to be on the safe side. Specifically, after cutting food items like fish, beef, poultry, raw food items, etc., because these items can cause food poisoning if not cleaned off from your knife.

However, aside from these food items, there are specific occurrences that mandate knife sanitization and cleaning. This is dependent on what the knife uses or the type of food you used it to cut. As a result, you need to clean and sanitize knives in the following situations

  • Use the knife for a specific purpose.
  • Use the knife to cut various food types.
  • Use the knife to scale a fish or cut raw food items.
  • Using of the knife by multiple people.

1. Using the knife for a specific purpose

Of course, after using your knife for individual purposes, you should clean up and sanitize it after use. This keeps your knife safe and ready for use when next you need it.

2. Use the knife to cut various food types

After using one knife to cut various food types, you must clean the knife blade. In that case, take proper care to keep your knives safe. What this entails is that you should clean up after each food item you cut, so after cutting raw meat, you must wash before you venture into cutting vegetables or other items. This would ensure one food item doesn’t contaminate the other while you walk. You should also avoid cutting different food using the same board. That is to prevent the transfer of bacteria from the surface to the food.

3. Use the knife by multiple people

A situation where different people are making use of the same knife to cut food items while cooking. This is a very delicate situation that should be handled with utmost care to prevent food contamination. As a result, it is advised each person clean after use before transferring to the next user. Then after transferring and cutting, the knife should be sanitized immediately. This will help prevent the transfer of contaminated food from one surface to another.

4. Use the knife to scale a fish or cut raw food items

After scaling or filleting a fish, you must clean up the knife. Although this situation passes off as using the knife yourself and naturally falls under that category, the emphasis has to be on the significance of sanitizing your knife after scaling fishes because of the likely chances to cause food poisoning if it gains contact with other food items.

Why should you clean and sanitize your knives after use?

A lot can be said about the importance of cleaning and sanitizing your knives, but the summary of them all is germs or microorganisms. One cannot carry out the process of preparing food cannot without making use of a knife. This means that to prevent food poisoning, you must follow each step hygienically. Although it might sound unserious; however, contaminated knives can lead to complications like the death of someone in some situations; hence you should avoid this as much as possible.

The goal is to prevent cross-contamination of various food substances if you do not clean up after use. Consequently, knives require regular cleaning and sanitization. If this is not done, microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria find abode in the handle and blade of your knives. They wait for the next item you want to cut and then get transferred onto it.

Although cooking at a certain temperature can destroy these microorganisms. However, in a situation where they are not sanitized before you use them to cut items like vegetables that do not need high temperatures, then there would be an issue.

How To Clean Knives Properly?

As easy as it sounds, the act of cleaning knives involves more than just placing them underwater. Therefore, when it comes to knives, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it, to effectively get rid of the microorganisms. It involves the following simple steps:

  • Hold the handle of the knife properly while you clean, so you don’t get a cut from the knife’s blade.
  • Clean using warm water that contains a soaping agent. This helps to sanitize the blades if you don’t get the time to sanitize properly.
  • Do not make use of harsh chemicals in your soap agent, so chemical residues are not left behind on your knife.
  • Ensure you clean the edges and handles of the knife, taking note of the corners of the handles. This helps to get rid of microorganisms that are trapped there.
  • After cleaning, use a clean cloth and leave it to dry. This would prevent rusting and corrosion.

At the end of these processes, your knife should look as good as new and should be of food debris.

Handwashing or Dishwashing?

Some knives are not dishwasher safe; therefore, before using a knife to wash, you must first confirm if it is dishwasher safe or not. You can check the manufacturer’s guide to determine which category they fall into.

If you do have a dishwasher-friendly knife, then, by all means, wash them regularly by using the dishwasher.

How To Sanitize Knives Properly?

Keeping knives safe goes beyond cleaning; you also need to sanitize them, to remove microorganisms. To do this effectively, you should take note of the following:

  • Ensure your kitchen environment is kept clean at all times. This is because microorganisms in the atmosphere can also settle on the knives.
  • Keep all kitchen accessories that are used alongside the knives clean. An example is the cutting boards which go hand in hand with knives.
  • Your knife block is another place where microorganisms are store. So, you must keep them clean too.  To do this, you should thoroughly clean it and allow it to dry completely, after which you can arrange your knives back inside.


Knives are an essential tool used in the kitchen by professional chefs or even homemakers who love cooking. They touch virtually everything that goes into the pot, and as a result, they must be kept clean and sanitized at all times. Neglecting to do this can be dangerous to human health, causing hospitalization and even death in severe cases.

Consequently, it is essential to answer the question; when must a knife be cleaned or sanitized? For this purpose, this article has been written, taking into consideration the details on when you should clean and sanitize your knife. It also answers the question of why and how to wash and sanitize your knives properly. Hence, it would help newbies and even professional chefs to help keep their meals safe from food poisoning due to contaminated knives.


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