How to Properly Clean Your Knife

A knife is an extremely useful and critical tool in a survival situation and outdoor setting. In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of properly caring for your knife. Ideally, you are doing those small but important tasks like keeping it oiled and storing it appropriately. Sometimes you can just wipe your knife down with a damp rag to keep it clean.  For heavier jobs, use the following steps to clean your knife.

Regular Cleaning

  1. For lockblades and pocket knives, blow out the pivot points by mouth or with compressed air.


  1. Wash knives in warm soapy water just long enough to remove dirt and grime. IMPORTANT:  If you soak your knife too long in hot water, the handles can warp, loosen, and/or lose their finish depending on what type of knife you have.
  2. Let the knife dry completely, including any movable parts.
    IMPORTANT:  To avoid rust on your folding knives, remove all moisture by blowing out the pivot points.
  3. Once dry, lightly oil blades and/or pivot points. Do not use too much oil as the oil will collect dirt and debris.

Rust Removal

The number one rule in rust removal is: Don’t Let It Rust!  Once rust starts, it tends to stick around and you will find yourself continually battling to stay ahead of it.  To prevent rust, follow these simple dos and don’ts.  But sometimes, despite your best intentions, you pull your knife out of its sheath and discover that it has rusted.  Could it be because the knife had been in its sheath for 6 to 8 months?  Not that that scenario has ever happened to me – or not more than a few times at least.

In that case, here are a few safe, simple ways to remove rust:

Knife cleaning

My preference is to use 0000 steel wool with a light oil.
– Any type of oil will work (e.g., 3-in-One, WD40, honing).
– Using a light pressure, sand back and forth.  CAREFUL:  If the pressure is too heavy,
you will scratch the finish.
– Wipe off the dirty oil often and change it frequently.


Other ways to remove rust:

  • Use a toothbrush with Flitz metal polish or toothpaste (mild abrasive). Brush back and forth.


  • Use cork with dry, white wood ash.  CAREFUL:  Using wet ash can create a lye and cause skin burns.


NOTE:  You can also use aluminum foil with any of the above (oil, polish, toothpaste, ash).

Remember to store your knife out of its sheath and keep it lightly oiled to remain rust-free!

-Frank Sherwood

How to Properly Clean Your Knife

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