5 Kitchen Knife Mistakes You Might Be Making

Give these essential tools the treatment they deserve.

Your knives are some of the most critical pieces of equipment in your kitchen. They can also be some of the priciest, but if you're not treating them as such they can get worn out fast. Here, we list out five of the most common mistakes you might be making with your knives and how to correct them to give these tools a longer life.

Cutting on the Wrong Surface

Knives are undoubtedly hard and strong, but the sharp point is delicate and can dull or curl quickly with improper use. One such common mistake: Cutting on a glass cutting board, ceramic cheese plate, or directly on your granite countertop (we've all done it once or twice). These surfaces are actually harder than the knife and can dull or even damage the blade each time the knife comes down.

The fix: Stick to wood or plastic cutting boards. They are softer and therefore gentler on the knife, which will preserve the blade's sharp edge for longer.

Popping Knives in the Dishwasher

As easy as it makes post-meal clean-up, the dishwasher is not the place for kitchen knives if you want them to live a long and useful life. Dishwasher detergent is stronger and more abrasive than the soap you would use to handwash and coupled with the strong sprays of super-hot water your knives could come out dull or even broken instead of clean.

The fix: Wash your knives by hand in the sink immediately after you use them (or as close to immediately as you can). Waiting until specks of food dry and harden on the surface of the blade will require more intense scrubbing; you want to clean them effectively but also in as gentle of a way as possible.

Storing Knives in a Drawer

Knives that live in a drawer among your other pieces of cutlery can be jostled or knocked around every time you pull open the drawer, rummage around, and then push it closed. This jostling, especially if it is against other metal utensils, can lead the edge to become dull.

The fix: Knife blocks are a compact and safe way to store knives, plus most sets come with a block. But many chefs prefer to use a magnetic knife bar on the wall — it's stylish, frees up counter space, and keeps the knives in tip-top shape.

Using a Handsaw Motion

Do you frequently find yourself sawing your way through a root vegetable or a large head of lettuce? If you're using your kitchen knife like a handsaw, chances are the blade is already worn down and you're only wearing it down further. In fact, the second you start needing to move the knife back and forth as opposed to straight down through the food, it's a sign that it probably needs to be sharpened.

The fix: With regular use, your knives probably need to be sharpened once or twice a year. Be aware that if you're making that sawing motion or if your knife is sliding over things, as these are both signs that it's time. Using a honing steel on your knife occasionally will also keep it sharp. This is actually what that long, handled tool that came with your knife block is for — it pushes the edge of the knife back into alignment, while sharpening actually shaves off bits of the blade.

Bringing Knives Outside the Kitchen

It's tempting to grab a kitchen knife to slice open the top of a delivery box or use kitchen shears to clip some coupons but using these tools on non-food items is one of the fastest ways to make them unusable.

The fix: Leave your knives in the kitchen for the slicing and dicing and stick to a pocketknife or pair of scissors for cutting jobs in other parts of the house. Not only will this lengthen the life of your knives, but it will also keep them clean and free of non-kitchen debris.

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