How To Clean A Knife Block

If you store your kitchen knives in one, knowing how to clean a knife block is an important aspect of knife care and maintenance. Luckily, it’s an easy process you can breeze through with the help of a few simple supplies!

knife block

You don’t need to clean your knife block every time you clean your kitchen, but doing it once every few months can help prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for germs. Here, I’ll show you how to clean a knife block (and sanitize it along the way) in just a few simple steps.

knife block

Why Clean Your Knife Block?

Storing kitchen knives in a block can be convenient, but those deep, dark slots in the wood can attract bacteria and mold if they aren’t kept clean and dry. Regularly cleaning your knife block is an easy way to improve your kitchen cleanliness and food safety habits.

How To Clean A Knife Block, Inside And Out

The table below provides a quick overview of how to thoroughly clean a wooden knife block. Continue reading for a step-by-step tutorial complete with photos.

Empty the blockTake everything out of the block and shake it to remove any loose dirt
Clean the insideClean each slot with a pipe cleaner dipped in a bleach solution (1 tsp bleach + 1 quart water)
Clean the outsideClean the exterior of the block with a sponge and soapy water
Let it dryLet the clean block sit out on your countertop until completely dry
Replace the knivesReturn your clean knives to your clean, dry knife block
knife block

Step 1 – Empty The Block And Make A Cleaning Solution

Start by removing the knives (and any other contents) from your knife block and washing them by hand. Once the block is empty, turn it upside down over your garbage can or sink and shake it to remove any loose dust or debris.

knife block

To disinfect the inside of the block, make a simple bleach solution by adding 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of warm water. You’ll also need a few pipe cleaners, a sponge or scrub brush, and a clean, dry cloth.

Inserting a pipe cleaner inside the slot of a wooden knife block.

Step 2 – Clean Each Slot With A Pipe Cleaner

Pipe cleaners are the perfect tool for cleaning out those deep, narrow slots, and they’re widely available and inexpensive. Start by dipping a pipe cleaner into the diluted bleach solution, then insert it into a slot and give it a good scrub.

knife block

Rinse or replace the pipe cleaners as needed until each of the slots in your knife block has been cleaned and sanitized.

knife block

Step 3 – Clean The Exterior

Next, clean the exterior of the block using a sponge and warm, soapy water. Use a clean, damp cloth to remove the soap residue and loosened gunk from the outside of the block.

knife block

Step 4 – Let It Dry

Use a clean towel or cloth to pat the block dry, then leave it out on your countertop to dry for several hours (or overnight). It’s important to let the wood dry completely before using it again!

knife block

Step 5 – Replace The Knives

Once the block is bone-dry, carefully replace the knives. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

“Thank you so much for this reminder to clean my knife block, something that hadn’t crossed my mind! As for replacing the knives, I was told long ago to store my knives with the blade facing up. That way they would not [rub] the wood surface each time you inserted or removed them.”

– OGT reader C. L.
knife block

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Clean The Inside Of A Knife Block?

The easiest way to clean and sanitize the long, deep slots in a knife block is with the help of a few pipe cleaners. Add 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of warm water, dip a clean pipe cleaner into the solution, then use it to scrub the inside of each slot. Let the block dry overnight, then replace the knives.

How Do You Sterilize A Knife Block?

To sterilize a knife block, use a simple disinfecting solution made of 1 teaspoon of household bleach and 4 cups of warm water.

How Do You Clean A Knife Block With Bristles?

If the knife block has removable, dishwasher-safe bristles, remove them from the block and wash them by hand or in your dishwasher. Allow the bristles to dry thoroughly before replacing them in the block.


If you’ve ever wondered how to clean a knife block, you now know that it’s actually pretty easy! It only takes a few minutes to ensure your knife block isn’t harboring mold or bacteria — and all for the cost of a few pipe cleaners!

Where do you store your kitchen knives?

knife block

How To Clean A Knife Block (Step By Step)

Jill Nystul
Follow these simple steps to rid your wooden knife block of grime, bacteria, and mold to help keep your knives clean and sharp.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 0 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Drying Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Yield 1 clean knife block


  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sponge or scrub brush
  • Clean cloths
  • Dish soap


  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1 teaspoon bleach


  • Empty the knife block, then turn it upside down and shake to remove loose dirt or debris.
    knife block
  • Prepare a cleaning solution by adding 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of warm water.
    knife block
  • Dip a pipe cleaner into the solution and use it to scrub each slot. Rinse or replace the pipe cleaner as needed until all slots are clean.
    knife block
  • Clean the outside of the block using a sponge and warm, soapy water, then rinse with a clean, damp cloth.
    knife block
  • Allow the knife block to dry for several hours, or overnight, before replacing the knives.
    knife block


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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


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Leave a Comment


  1. Wow, Jillee, you got a lot of response out of this post! I enjoyed reading all of the ideas, though. I almost hate to say it, but I don’t have any space in my kitchen to put up a strip (big knives take up big space), and I am actually using an old block (like the wedding gifts we got in the 1970s!) that sits on my counter with 6 knives in it, yet I have basically 2 that I grab (GASP…you grab?) all the time! I put out some pretty darn good meals and no one has gotten sick or died so far from my food! I get it, I guess this is one of the very least of my worries to stress over. Of course, I’m living without stainless steel appliances or a cell phone too so I’m probably considered a cave-woman! LOL (just a little humor everybody…not judging anyone at all! Love all of you!)

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  2. I don’t have a place for a magnetic holder nor would I want one. My block is at the back of the counter, under the upper cupboards. I’m the only one in the kitchen so I put my knives in the block, sharp side up. (gasp, I know) Nothing touches the blades. Only a tiny bit sticks out on a couple. You wouldn’t get close to that when taking it out of the block and turning it over to use it.

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  3. Hi All,
    The best way to keep your knives sharp is not in how they are stored but by sharpening them either before or after each use; a piece of suede and polishing compound and a few (5 or 6) light strokes along the whole length of each side of your knife at an angle of between 12° and 20° depending on the style and grade (high/low carbon) of knife.
    The way you store knives can lead to damage, i.e. blunting the blade in a block, taking chips out of the steel, if in a drawer you can cut yourself if put away by someone else. Chopping boards, such as bamboo, long grain, glass etc can damage knives by rolling the steel, blunting or taking chips out.
    Never put chef’s knives in the dishwasher, always wash by hand but don’t drop them in the bowl with the other cutlery as you can easily cut yourself this way.
    If you have the room, magnetic strips are the best way to keep your knives, out of reach of the little folk, ready to be used and visible to decide which one is right for the job (a lady in lockdown posted a video on social media, trying to cut her hair with a blunt bread knife EEK! poor knife) not what you should really do with a bread knife lol. I understand they are not aesthetically pleasing to everyone thus you use what you want.
    I am passionate about knives, food etc as I was a Chef Lecturer before retiring, my intention here is to give friendly advice.
    There are videos on knife handling, knife sharpening with leather strop or a Chef’s steel and many others on Youtube.
    Thanks Jillee for this post.
    Take care everyone xx

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    • Michelle, I still use a knife block but I have been making a point (no pun intended) of using my sharpening steel more lately as my knives haven’t had a good professional sharpening in years (as there’s nobody close by who could do this). One thing I’ve been wondering about a magnetic strip as it seems to be what most people favor here…I would think the act of removing the knife from the strip would unavoidably scrape the blade against it, thus dulling it in the same way a knife block supposedly does. Has this been your observation, and is there a way to remove a knife so as to avoid this?

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  4. I used a swanky modern knife block initially, but I experienced several nasty cuts due to my husband replacing them at the wrong angle! Since then I have always used magnetic strips. Firstly, it’s safer and cleaner. Secondly it’s the best way to keep them sharp…….storing them apart keeps them in good condition, and makes sharpening less often. Thirdly, it’s quicker to find a specific knife, and fourth……my knives don’t take up valuable worktop space!

    Thanks for the reminder, Jillee. I must admit cleanliness didn’t come into it for me when I first got married at 20……you know, I was more interested in what the kitchen looked like than cleanliness and practicalities. After 45 years my priorities are SO different! Lol!

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  5. I clean my knife block with a tiny straw cleaner and the clorox solution – no room for a magnetic strip in my little kitchen so just work with what I have – straw brushes are available from Amazon – just search “straw brush”.

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  6. I ditched my block years ago. For one it just took up too much space on my counter, and also for the reasons for this post. They are nice when they are new, but it doesn’t take long for them to become dirty. Rather take my chances keeping my knives in a drawer.

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  7. I also use a magnetic strip. The kids are grown so there is no danger, but when kids were around the house, the knives were kept in a block in a cupboard they could not easily reach. It’s now great to have my best tools handy and always razor sharp. Never liked the block and glad to get rid of it. My knives are expensive and well-taken care of and I am proud to display them

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  8. I use a knife block and never seriously considered a magnetic strip, for multiple reasons…for one thing I don’t have a section of wall space near my work area where they’d all fit. I also prefer a more “vintage” look to my kitchen as a magnetic strip seems like a very modern look and I don’t like a lot of stainless showing (including appliances). At the same time, my knives have handles made of resin-impregnated wood (Also Sabatier, incidentally, from Thiers-Issard) so I’d rather have these on display than stuck in a drawer or even behind a cabinet door (where they’d be less accessible). I wash and dry them by hand after use (NEVER in the dishwasher) and store them blade-side up. If anything I need a block that will accomodate all of my knives as I still have a few for which there are no slots.

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    • Hi Terry,
      Magnetic knife blocks come in various styles now (different types of wood/bamboo etc) they are not always stainless steel, if you ever consider getting rid of your block.

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      • Good point(!)…right now I really don’t have a good place for one but it’s something I might consider in our next house, as I do recall my husband talking about making one.

  9. It seems like all we do is mix potions, organize and constantly clean.
    I am exhausted!

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    • Sounds like you need a dose of Netflix, administered on a sofa with optional cat or dog to keep your feet warm. No more housewifing for you today!

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  10. I was told by a chef that no matter how clean you think you got a knife block it still won’t be clean enough. He also said that when you are putting the knives in and taking them out it will dull the knife because it almost always bumps against the edge. He told me ALWAYS use a magnetic strip on the wall to store my knives. I’ve always done that and my knives stay sharper and in better condition, and will last longer. They are also easier to access because in the knife block, you can’t always see which knife you are choosing if someone put it away in the wrong slot. On a magnet, you see exactly which knives you have and which to choose and can do it more quickly.

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  11. I know a chef that told me NEVER to use a knife block or store them in a drawer . The best way to use everyday knives is to use a magnetic strip to store them on. It will keep the knives sharper and they will last longer.

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  12. Thank you so much for this reminder to clean the knife block, something that hadn’t crossed my mind! As for replacing the knives, I was told long ago to store my knives with the blade facing up. That way they would not be rubbing on the wood surface each time you inserted or removed them.

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    • I store my knives on a magnetic strip on the side of a cabinet so they are handy when I need them. If I was using a knife block I would clean it as you suggested with one addition: I would use a little olive oil on a paper towel and rub it into the wood, especially after using a bleach solution to clean with. It will keep the wood from drying out, and looking lovely.

      The trick is to use just a very little bit of oil on the paper towel. Any more than a tad, and you will end up spending a lot of time rubbing it off, not rubbing it in!

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    • My pleasure C.L… I think it’s something that we all forget about. :-)

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