Chef knives are essential tools in the kitchen, beloved by both professional chefs and home cooks alike for their versatility and precision. However, when it comes to cleaning these prized possessions, there’s a dilemma that many face: can you put chef knives in the dishwasher? In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of dishwasher cleaning for chef knives, the potential risks involved and the best practices for maintaining your knives in top condition.
The pros and cons of dishwasher cleaning for chef knives
We know that using a dishwasher is convenient – you load up your dirty pans and utensils, and the hard work is done for you. Dishwashers aren’t bad at cleaning and sanitising either, with hot water and detergent removing residue and bacteria effectively. Also, when it comes to handling sharp or difficult objects, there’s less risk of an accident compared to washing by hand.
However, when it comes to premium quality knives, they should never be put in the dishwasher.
Cons of using the dishwasher for chef knives
Chef knives are often made from high-carbon steel, which can be prone to corrosion when exposed to moisture for extended periods. The combination of hot water and detergent in a dishwasher can accelerate this process.
It’s not just the blades that are at risk in the dishwasher. The handles of chef knives are often made from various materials like wood, which can swell or warp when exposed to excessive moisture. This can compromise the knife’s structural integrity.
Clashing with other utensils
In a dishwasher, knives may come into contact with other items, like metal pots and pans. This can lead to scratches on the knife’s surface and compromise its aesthetics.
Loss of sharpness
The high heat in dishwashers can weaken the knife’s edge retention, causing it to lose sharpness more quickly. Frequent sharpening may become necessary.
Removing knives from a dishwasher can be risky, as they can easily go unnoticed and cause accidents, especially if you have children in your household.
Best practices for cleaning chef knives by hand
Cleaning chef knives by hand is the preferred method for maintaining their sharpness, appearance and overall longevity. Here are the best practices for chef knife care:
Use warm, soapy water
Refrain from using scalding hot water and opt for a mild dishwashing detergent. Harsh detergents, especially those with bleach in, can damage the blade.
Clean your knives as soon as possible after use. This prevents food residues from drying onto the blade, making cleaning more difficult.
Handle with care
Hold the knife by the handle and avoid contact with the sharp blade. Never leave a knife in a sink full of soapy water, as it can be dangerous to reach into a clouded sink.
Use a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the knife’s blade, handle and spine. Avoid abrasive scouring pads or steel wool, as they can scratch the knife’s surface.
Rinse the knife under warm, running water to remove all soap and food residues. Ensure no soap is left on the blade or handle.
Use a clean, dry towel to wipe the knife thoroughly, removing any remaining moisture. Pay attention to drying the knife completely, especially near the handle and around the blade’s base to prevent water spots and potential corrosion.
After cleaning and drying, store your knives properly to prevent damage and to maintain sharpness. Options include:
- Knife block
- Edge guard
- Knife roll
- Magnetic strips
Regular honing and sharpening
To maintain the knife’s sharpness, use a honing rod or sharpening stone regularly. Honing realigns the blade’s edge, while sharpening removes material to create a new edge.
Honing should be done more frequently, while sharpening is needed less often.
Use cutting boards wisely
Always use a soft chopping board, such as wood or plastic, to prevent excessive wear on the knife’s edge.
Avoid cutting on hard surfaces like glass or stone, as they can damage the blade.
Oil the blade
To prevent corrosion, apply a thin layer of food-grade mineral oil or a dedicated knife oil to the blade. This is especially important if you have high-carbon steel knives.
Keep knives separate
Store your knives separately from other utensils to prevent accidental contact that could dull the blade or cause injury.
To dishwasher or not to dishwasher?
In the debate of whether or not to put chef knives in the dishwasher, the experts here at Savernake Knives agree it should definitely be avoided. While the convenience of dishwasher cleaning is undeniable, the potential risks to your precious knives outweigh the benefits. By following best practices for knife care, such as hand washing, proper drying and regular maintenance, you can ensure that your chef knives remain sharp, safe and in excellent condition for many years to come. Remember, a well-cared-for knife is a chef’s best friend in the kitchen.