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The Safest Way to Clean Your Chef's Knives

2 Aug 2022, 5:07 PM

The Safest Way to Clean Your Chef's Knives

Good quality kitchen knives are an important piece of catering equipment to invest in. The right set of knives will help your kitchen to prepare food faster and with less risk of injury. To protect your investment in decent knives it's important to maintain them in good condition. Proper cleaning of knives is essential for keeping them sharp, safe and efficient for years to come. Let's take a look at how to clean kitchen knives properly and safely.

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Do not clean kitchen knives in the dishwasher

The dishwasher is an important time-saving piece of restaurant equipment but it is not suitable for kitchen knives. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it's unsafe for those loading or unloading the dishwasher because the knives could shift around while other pots are being moved and risk falling or cutting someone. Secondly, the detergents used in dishwashers tend to be fairly abrasive, far more than standard dish soap, and over time they will corrode the knife blades. Thirdly, the spray of the water during the dishwashing cycle will move the knife around and cause it to bang into other catering equipment in the machine, which can lead to the blade becoming dull. Finally, the intense heat and soaking moisture of the dishwasher could damage the integrity of the knife handle which could lead to the blade coming loose and the knife becoming dangerous to use.

Clean knives immediately after you finish using them

Leaving knives dirty for any amount of time can lead to food debris drying and getting stuck on. This will make the knives harder to clean which could increase the risk of possible injury. Plus, the debris could lead to rusting or staining of the blade. Try to wash knives immediately after using them.

Rinse the knife first

In order to minimise contact with the blade of the knife, which both reduces the risk of accidental injury and avoids dulling the blade, you should rinse excess debris from the knife first. Hold the knife in a pinch grip by the handle with the point facing downward towards the bottom of the sink and quickly rinse the blade under running water.

Use warm water and dish soap

Knives should not be cleaned with very harsh detergents as this could gradually corrode the blade over time. Regular dish soap is fine. Use warm, soapy water and soak a wet cloth or sponge. Do not use abrasive materials, like steel wool, to clean knives as they will damage the finish of the blade and could blunt the blade edge.

Clean from spine to blade edge

Hold the knife flat against the side of the sink and wipe downwards from spine to blade edge with your wet cloth or sponge. The spine is the flat, straight edge on the top of the blade. Avoid wiping along the blade edge from heel to tip as this increases the risk of injury. Turn the blade over and repeat on the other side. Carefully pinch the blade right near the handle to free up the handle for cleaning. Rinse the knife again to remove any suds.

Soak stuck-on food for a few minutes

Knives shouldn't be soaked for too long in hot water because this could cause damage to the handle. However, if there are stubborn stains on the blade you can soak the knife for a few minutes before wiping the blade again. Toothbrushes can help to remove stuck-on debris.

Dry kitchen knives immediately after washing them

Leaving a knife to air dry can lead to rust, which not only is unsanitary for food preparation but it also means the blade becomes dull and less efficient. Use a paper towel or a dry, clean cloth to thoroughly dry the blade, again wiping in a downward motion from the spine to the blade edge.

Clean knives even when they don't look dirty

Some knives, such as bread knives and slicing knives, don't look dirty after being used to cut dry foods such as bread, cake and pastry. However, it's important that all knives are cleaned after every use, no matter whether there is visible debris on them or not. Food particles and bacteria from hands will still be present on the blade if the knives are not washed.

Store clean knives in a safe place

Knives should be put away immediately after cleaning to ensure they don't get misplaced and turn up somewhere that they could cause an injury. You can store knives in countertop blocks or on magnetic strips attached to the wall. If you store knives in a drawer make sure it is a specialist knife drawer where the blades can be kept safely facing downwards.

Use baking soda to remove rust

If you notice any rust on a knife it's important to remove it as soon as possible. Make a paste with baking soda and water, apply this to the blade and leave it to sit for an hour. Then, scrub the paste away before thoroughly rinsing. If rust is particularly stubborn, try soaking the knife in white vinegar for just five minutes.

Consider a knife steriliser

Knife sterilisers use UV to destroy any lasting bacteria. The knives must still be washed by hand in warm soapy water first. Although not an essential piece of catering equipment, knife sterilisers can make it easier to ensure knives are completely sanitised, particularly if they're regularly used to prepare raw meat.


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