7 Things You Should Never Do With A Kitchen Knife

How you're ruining your knives collage: scraping chopped food off a cutting board; hand washing a knife; knives on a magnet bar

What Not To Do With A Knife: 7 Things To Avoid

For the past few years, we’ve chosen to rent houses whenever we’ve traveled for family vacations. It’s typically cheaper than booking several rooms at a hotel, and we save on food costs by cooking our own meals!

But cooking our own meals means using the tools provided in the kitchen, and those tools don’t usually look like they’ve been handled with care. My son-in-law is a chef, and he is always particularly appalled at the condition of the knives!

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t do to a good kitchen knife if you want to keep it in good shape, and those poor knives always seem like they’ve suffered through most of them. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing what not to do with a knife so that your knives can continue to do their duty as the most important tools in your kitchen!

7 Ways You Mistreat Your Kitchen Knives

How you're ruining your knives - cutting tap on a box

1. You Use Them To Open Boxes

Repeat after me: “I will not use my kitchen knives to open packages.” (I’m repeating it as well, because it’s possible that I’ve been guilty of this in the past…)

Opening boxes with your kitchen knives is a quick way to take the sharp edge off of them, and it’s not very sanitary either. Instead, spend a few dollars on a set of box cutters (like this $7 set) and store them wherever you tend to open packages.

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How you're ruining your knives - hand washing a knife

2. You Wash Them In The Dishwasher

Tossing your kitchen knife in the dishwasher might be the easiest way to clean it, but it definitely isn’t the safest. The spray from the washer arm can jostle your knife around, leading to dings, chips, and a dull blade.

Instead, wash your nice knives by hand in warm, soapy water. It only takes a minute, and it’s an easy way to ensure they stay sharp and damage-free!

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How you're ruining your knives - knives on a magnet bar

3. You Store Them In A Drawer

Just like the inside of your dishwasher, kitchen drawers are another place where knives often get dulled or banged up. Instead, store your knife on a magnetic knife strip or in a wooden knife block to keep it safe and close at hand.

How you're ruining your knives - cutting a tomato

4. You Use Them On The Wrong Cutting Board

Another part of taking care of a good knife is making sure you’re using it on the right kind of cutting board. Wood and plastic cutting boards are both good options that can help minimize potential damage.

Avoid stone, glass, and bamboo cutting boards if you want to keep your knife in good shape. These materials are hard enough to dull your knives, and possibly even chip them!

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How you're ruining your knives - scraping chopped leaves off a cutting board

5. You Scoop With The Sharp Edge

Scooping up ingredients with the sharp edge of your knife can dull the blade rapidly. An easy alternative is just to flip the knife over and scoop with the spine of the knife instead of the sharp edge.

Another option is to start using a bench scraper or pastry scraper in the kitchen. They’re actually designed for the task of scraping and scooping (and it’s one of those things you’ll eventually wonder how you ever lived without!)

Related: 11 Cheap Solutions For When You Don’t Have The Right Kitchen Tool

How you're ruining your knives - using a knife sharpener

6. You Don’t Keep Them Sharp

It surprises some people to hear it, but using a dull knife is often more dangerous than using a sharp one. The reason is that you need to put more pressure on a dull knife to cut with it, so if the knife were to slip, it would result in a much deeper cut!

Keeping your knives properly sharpened makes them both safer and easier to use. Use a honing steel weekly to keep it sharp, and when it stops feeling like the honing steel is helping, use a knife sharpener to grind a new edge (or take it to a local knife shop for a professional sharpening.)

How you're ruining your knives - slicing strawberries

7. You Use It For The Wrong Tasks

A classic chef’s knife can be used for all sorts of different tasks in the kitchen, but other knives are more specialized. Take the time to identify what types of knives you have and what they’re meant to be used for.

There’s a useful guide called “Types of Kitchen Knives” on Cook’s Illustrated that will tell you everything you need to know about which knife to use for different tasks. Using the right knife not only makes the task easier, but it’s better for your knives too.

Do you have a go-to knife in your kitchen that you love?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • After working in food service for decades, I have seen other people handle knives in ways that would blow your mind. Trying to use a dull knife is frustrating and will wear you out! Also you will bruise your fruits and vegetables instead of making clean cuts.

  • When storing the knives in a wooden block, place them cutting edge up so they dont cut against the block every time you remove or insert them

  • Great tips! Also the knife sharpener you show is the same one I have and it is so easy to use and gets my knives sharper than anything I have used before!! I was always cutting myself because my knives were dull until I found this on Amazon! It was pretty inexpensive which was a plus!

  • My very favorite knife is a Zwilling Pro 7″ hollow edge rocking santoku. I use it for most of my food prep. It keeps a great edge, and is very comfortable in my hand.

  • My favorite knife is a pampered chef santoku (misspelled?) knife. Putting knives in the knife block with the sharp edge up helps keep them sharp!

  • Have a question? Is there a right or wrong way to use a sharpener such as the one that is shown in this post. Bought one off EBay and it had no instructions and not sure if I will damage my knives further.

  • Don’t store them or put in the dishwasher cutting edge down.
    If using a magnetic knife rack place the knives handle UP. If one slips as you are removing it the instinct is to grab it as it’s falling which means grabbing the blade.

  • I’m (mostly) good on 6 of these but I’ve never heard of bamboo cutting boards being too hard – or certainly not harder than oak or other hardwoods! I picked up a couple (one was a gift) 10+ years ago and have used them almost exclusively since. I haven’t noticed my knives being too dull, although they are probably due for a professional sharpening. When our “bridal” set dwindled down to two knives years ago we invested in a wood-handled set made by Thiers-Issard, so we certainly want to take care of them! They don’t leave the house for pot-lucks or camping trips either – too easy for them not to make it home.

    We’ve also stayed in a rented condo while out of town and done our own cooking, and I agree that the cutlery provided (in addition to the cookware and other things) can be lacking – although the owners probably don’t want to invest in implements that might well be stolen.

    • We have resorted to packing a “kitchen crate” for traveling because Airbnb etc places often have questionable tools. A content list ensures that nothing gets left behind.

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