Like a car, computer, or any other tool, kitchen knives require a bit of maintenance and care to perform their best over a long lifetime of use. While kitchen knives are made to be abused and mishandled, a little bit of information about proper handling can really extend the life of your knives. Follow these simple guidelines for cleaning, storing, and using your blades to maximize your knives’ durability.

1. Cleaning your knife

No matter what style of knife you are cleaning, a few simple steps should be used. First of all, do not allow food matter to sit on the knife, and do not soak the knife in water for extended periods. Knives should be cleaned, rinsed, and dried as soon as possible after use to prevent rusting or corrosion of the blade due to acidic foods.

As soon as you are finished cutting, slicing, and dicing, rinse the knife under water. Take a sponge, wash cloth, or other soft material, and apply and lather mild dish soap to the blade to remove all chunks and grease. Make sure not to use an SOS pad or other highly abrasive material, as that will ruin the cutting edge of the knife. Once all food has been removed, rinse the knife under water again and dry it using a towel, your shirt, or even just by running your fingers across the flat side of the blade to swipe the water off before replacing into the knife block.

Never use a dishwasher to clean your high quality, well cared for knives! Dishwasher soap is often much more abrasive than the typical dish soap you would use in the sink, and will stay on the blade for a long period of time. A knife just needs a simple wash and rinse, and a dishwasher will kill the edge, as well as damage the handle. Hand washing takes only a few moments per knife, and will go a long ways towards preserving the life of your knife.

2. Storing your knife

Proper storage is almost as important as the way you wash your knife. There are many possible solutions, but the most important thing is that the blades should not be clashing with other metal. Using a wooden knife block is an easy way to organize your knives while keeping their blades safe. A magnetic strip can also be used to store kitchen cutlery in a visually appealing way. Whatever you do, don’t throw them into a drawer with a bunch of other knifes. This is the surest way to dull your blades, and is a great way to cut yourself when grabbing a knife.

3. Knife use and maintenance

For any type of cutting, a soft material cutting board works best. Wood or plastic are ideal, as they are cheap and easy to maintain. Granite, stainless steel, bamboo, or glass may look cool, but they are murder on your knives. Imagine constantly grinding your teeth against a piece of rock, and you will see why these types of boards are not a good idea.

For maintenance, there are three things you can do to maximize the life of your kitchenware. The first and easiest way is to simply use a honing rod. When you use your knives to cut, the blade becomes slightly bent near the edge. Using a honing rod puts the edge back in a straight line, and enhances cutting. If the blade itself is actually worn down to a thick, blunt edge, however, more drastic measures must be taken.

A diamond-crusted sharpening rod is a cheap and effective way to sharpen your knives, but a good amount of technical skill is required to use one effectively. If you’re not sure how, you could just end up making your knives more dull. Many video tutorials are available, or you could ask a friend that knows how.

Kitchen knives can last a lifetime with just a little bit of knowledge about their handling and care. Now you know how to get the most out of your cutlery. Cut away!