How to Clean and Lubricate Your Knife

This is a guest post from Ron of Check out his website for the best deals on knives of all makes, models, and price ranges. Also, be sure to check out his Instagram page for everything knives! In this guest post, he’s going to teach you how to properly clean and lubricate your knife.  

Keeping your knives clean and lubricated is one of the best things you can do to maintain its performance level and increase its lifespan. If you use a knife often enough, dirt, food, and other materials will start to build up. These materials can work their way into the pivot and locks of a folding knife, and prevent it from opening and closing properly. Dirt on a blade can cause unnecessary wear and tear, and, if you intend to use a knife to prepare food, the dirt can end up in the stomach of one of your dinner guests.

Any knife that doesn’t function properly is dangerous and can cause serious injuries. Regular cleaning and lubrication is the key to getting the most out of your knife, while keeping yourself and others safe. Let’s discuss the steps for properly cleaning and lubricating your knives. With few exceptions, these steps apply, whether you have a folding knife or a knife with a fixed blade.

Getting Started

aid1317650-728px-Clean-Rust-from-a-Pocketknife-Step-2Begin by gathering your materials, including:

  • Sink filled with warm water
  • Soft sponge
  • Cotton swabs
  • Small brush
  • Mild soap
  • Lubricant
  • Clean towel
  • Can of compressed air
  • Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol
  • Rust remover (i.e., WD-40)

Put warm water and with a little bit of mild dish soap on a soft brush or sponge. Using only the soft side of the sponge to wash the blade and handle of the knife, focus most heavily on the spots that need it the most. These spots include areas that are most obviously dirty or grimy. Soak the whole knife during this process. Don’t be afraid of damaging the knife, as the goal here is to get it clean. After you finish scrubbing and soaking the knife, rinse it out with warm water. Repeat this whole process if necessary.

After Washing Your Knife

maxresdefaultAfter you’ve soaked, scrubbed, and rinsed your knife thoroughly, look for areas that wouldn’t come clean. These areas generally appear in the form of rust. If you find a rust spot on your knife, spray that spot with some rust remover, such as WD-40, and allow it to soak for a few minutes.

When using a rust remover, avoid spraying it in other parts of the knife, because it can be very difficult to get out. Some people find that applying the rust remover using a cotton swab is a more accurate method. Finish this part of the process by washing off any excess rust remover residue with mild soap and water. Dry the knife completely with a soft cloth, and spray some air into any part that you aren’t able to reach with the cloth.

Cleaning the Inside of the Pivot

Huckberry_How_to_Care_for_your_Knife_3The inside of a knife’s pivot is one of the most difficult areas to clean. Full disassembly is required to fully clean and rebuild your knife, but this is not necessary for regular maintenance. If you choose to disassemble your knife before cleaning it, follow all manufacturer guidelines when doing so, in order to avoid rendering your warranty null.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to make cleaning the pivot of your knife possible without having to disassemble your knife. Take a cotton swab and a small brush, and clean the inside of the handle as much as possible. Reposition the blade as you clean to make it easier to clean different areas of the pivot, lock, and tang. When you’re cleaning near the internal springs, be careful to avoid getting the cotton swab caught on the springs. If the cotton swabs catch on one of the springs, it can pull on the spring and cause it to disengage.

If there is still a noticeable amount of dirt after cleaning, use a small drop of water, rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol on the cotton swab to clean off the residual dirt. If you use water, the hotter the water is, the better. Not only will hot water clean the knife better, it will also allow it to dry more quickly and thoroughly. It may help to flatten the tips of the cotton swabs with a hammer in order to reach the smaller openings on your knife.

Flitz KG 41501 Mixed Knife and Gun Care Kit

Use a can of compressed air to push any remaining dirt out of the knife. If you use any type of liquid during any part of the cleaning process, air dry the pivot thoroughly before moving on to the next part of knife maintenance – lubrication. A few blasts of air, towel dry, and at least a 30 minutes air drying is usually sufficient.


tsubaki-oilAny system of moving parts needs to be lubricated periodically to maintain a high level of performance. Your folding knife is made up of a system of moving parts and, therefore, needs lubrication to ensure that you can rely on your knife every time you need it.

Apply a couple drops of lubricant near the center of the pivot. If necessary, use a toothpick or some other object with a small tip to ensure that you don’t over-lubricate. Remember, when it comes to lubrication, a small amount goes a long way.

Once you’ve applied a couple drops of the lubricant, open and close your knife several times to work the lubricant into all of the crevices in the knife. If your knife doesn’t open and close smoothly after the initial dose of lubricant, it may be necessary to apply a second dose. When you’re finished, clean up any excess lubricant.Some knives have moving parts besides the main pivot, including the safety lock, locking mechanisms, and various other parts. These additional moving parts also require a drop or two of lubricant.

Some knives have moving parts besides the main pivot, including the safety lock, locking mechanisms, and various other parts. These additional moving parts also require a drop or two of lubricant. The type of lubricant you should use on your knife varies depending on the type of knife you have and what you intend to use it for. If you use your knife for food preparation, you should use a food-grade mineral oil or butcher block oil. If you use your knife for most other purposes, a 3-in-1 oil is generally more than sufficient.


Your knife is one of your most valuable tools, whether you use it to cook or for more tactical purposes. By properly cleaning and lubricating it at regular intervals, you’ll ensure that your knife is at its best whenever you need it, and that it will take care of you for a long time to come.

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