I am obsessed with how to store my kitchen knives properly. In fact, I go a little more nuts than I should when helpful guests or my otherwise all-star babysitter have shoved my good knives into a drawer with the butter knives, or plopped them into the dishwasher, which…eek! Hopefully you’re not doing that, right?
A good kitchen knife is a cook’s best tool, and knowing how to store knives properly can ensure that those expensive knives stay sharp and slice with ease. It also helps keep them safe since a dull knife can be dangerous and more prone to slippage. The last thing you want is five Dora Band-Aids wrapped around your favorite thumb, let alone a trip to the ER for stitches.
So I’ve put together some terrific ways to store your kitchen knives, and some basic do’s and don’ts to make sure you keep your investment in tip-top shape.
Top: Reclaimed maple wall-mounted knife mount from Food52
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– Updated for 2023 –
Related: 5 must-have kitchen tools under $15
How to care for your knives:
Safe handling and prep for storage
1. Do not put knives in the dishwasher or you will damage the blades. Dishwasher detergents can be harsh and the force of the water will cause a knife to bump around, dulling its sharp edge. Even in the sink, use a gentle soap without bleach or a lot of citrus, like Method or Mrs. Meyers, or even Dawn.
2. Do not leave knives overnight in a wet sink. Sinks are wet, slippery, and allow rust to form easily. Which, yep, will damage the blade. One trick: wash your knives immediately after using, or at least hand-wash them first when doing a large load of dishes. It isn’t just better for the blades, it keeps you from accidentally hurting yourself when you reach into a murky sink full of water.
3. Never scrape food on a cutting board using the sharp edge of your knife, which is another way to damage the blade. (Broken record, I know.) If you pick into any professional kitchen, you’ll see cooks flipping their blade so they can slide chopped veggies or meats with the spine, or dull side of the knife.
4. Do not leave a knife close to a counter edge where little hands can reach it. We know this is parenting 101, but I remind myself of this almost everyday. And other caregivers who use your kitchen may need the reminder too.
5. Do not let your knives roam free in a drawer. If you want to store knives in a drawer, be sure to use a specific In-drawer knife organizer. We’ve even got recommendations below!
How to store kitchen knives properly
There are a few good arguments for using a magnetic knife strip to store knives: It saves counter and drawer space, it keeps knives within arm’s reach (if situated properly), it hinders the bacteria buildup of wooden knife block slats, and frankly, it looks cool too.
The key is to properly use your magnetic knife strip: When you return a knife to the strip, make sure that the sharp edge doesn’t bang into the wood or metal, which can dull the blade over time. Also make sure that you do a little research to ensure the strip is strong enough and anchored in well enough to hold all of your knives.
Handmade in Philadelphia from husband and wife duo Peg and Awl, the Reclaimed Wood Magnetic Knife Grabber at Food52 (also in top photo) is as gorgeous as it is functional. Made from reclaimed walnut, or ash this would make a beautiful gift for the cook in your life. Who might also be yourself!
The magnetic strength and ample size of this 16-inch Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar by Modern Innovations allows you to hang more than just knives, which can be super convenient. Plus it’s so affordable, you can hang two or more, should you have a lot of lives.
Also see Kate’s guide to knife block alternatives for even more cool hanging knife options.
Storing knives loose in a drawer is not only dangerous, but it can also dull the blades over time when the knives scrape up against the drawer sides or other utensils.
So if you’re wondering about the best knife storage to save on counter space, and to keep those blades safely away from younger kids, be sure to outfit your drawer with a suitable, dedicated knife tray like this handsome Bamboo In-drawer knife organizer from Bellemain, for just around $25. It can fit an impressive number of small or large knives. Just be sure to check the dimensions to make sure it’s right for your own drawer size.
As an alternative to knife blocks, this Magnetic Wood Knife Block I found at Food52 fits up to 10 knives, and combines the elegance of a cool knife block with the magnetic function I like. This beauty is made of maple or acacia, and while it’s pricy at nearly $150, it really is an heirloom piece that looks as fantastic as it is functional. Just think of all the different ways you could display it!
Don’t worry, your knife storage doesn’t have to cost as much as your most expensive knife! If you are deeply committed to a knife block–and I get it, it does keep those blades out of reach and out of sight of younger kids–the slim Bodum Bistro Knife Block is just $39 at Amazon, and a great choice if you have only a few select knives that you regularly use. Tiny plastic rods inside accommodate nearly any knife or kitchen shears snugly, and the minimalist design looks great in any kitchen. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe. Who knew!