When must a knife be cleaned and sanitized?

Clean Knife

Because of obvious events, the concept of sanitization is on everyone’s minds. Sanitize your hands. Sanitize your mask. Sanitize your pens, your clothes…the list goes on. Perhaps one important item that should be sanitized is the cooking knife. You’re chopping up food, after all, and even if you’re going to cook that food, your knife should still be cleaned. Clean utensils are a good thing, and we’ll show you how to keep them clean. 

In this post, we’ll look at when and how a knife should be sanitized. 

When Should You Sanitize a Kitchen Knife? 

The answer is quite obvious. You should sanitize it every time you use it, especially if you’re cutting meat, poultry, fish, or other raw foods that could give you food poisoning. You don’t want to get sick because you forgot to sanitize. 

When you’re cutting multiple food items, you should try to sanitize your item between sessions. For example, if you’re cutting beef and then chicken, try sanitizing it between. This can ensure the best quality flavor possible. However, it is not a requirement, as you’re going to cook everything anyway. 

You should also sanitize if your hand touches the blade. Even if you know where your hands have been, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You may have some unsavory germs on them. 

Finally, the best time to sanitize a knife is if you’re unsure. Sanitizing something is quick and is not risky for you whatsoever. There’s not much reason why you shouldn’t sanitize your knife. It allows the knife to last longer, and you may last longer because of it as well. 

How to Sanitize the Knife 

The Traditional Way 

There isn’t anything magic when it comes to sanitizing. You just need to wash it in soapy, hot water for about 30 seconds or so. Alternatively, give it a spin in the dishwasher. After that, it should be good to go. This is how most people will clean their utensils. With handwashing, you also need to be careful as you don’t want to poke yourself with the blade! The last thing you want is to sanitize a gash in your hand. 

When you do clean it with soap and water, give it a rinse using clear, cool, water. For drying, make sure that you either air dry it or pat it down with some dry paper towels or a cloth. 

While most knives are dishwasher safe, a hollow-handled one should be washed by hand unless there are instructions that say that it can be sanitized. 

Alcohol Solutions 

One of the most effective ways to sanitize a knife is to cover it in alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or another sanitizing solution. This is the best way to kill bacteria, as these products were meant to do that. 

It’s a similar process to the soap and water technique. Just rub some on using a cloth, then use a clean cloth to dry it. Make sure it’s all dried off, as you wouldn’t want your food to taste like hydrogen peroxide. 

If you want the ultimate sterilization, leave it in the solution for around 20 minutes. You obviously don’t have to go that far, but this is the way to do it if you want to be careful. Otherwise, slabbing some on there can help you to sanitize it. However, there are some places where sanitizer is hard to come by, so you may not want to waste it. This is something that ultimately is up to you. 


Another guaranteed way to kill germs is through heat. This is good if you’re out camping or in another scenario where you may not have some solution handy, but you have some heat. 248 F., or 120C, is the temperature that will kill almost all germs. Obviously, you can make it hotter should you want to guarantee the death of those pesky germs. 

Leave the blade in the fire. Once the knife starts glowing red, you can take it out. Obviously, this is something that you want to handle with care. You don’t want to touch the knife without gloves. This can be a good way to sanitize something, and you’ll feel like a blacksmith, which is cool. Put the knife in a safe place until it cools down, then use it. 

Oh, and this should go without saying, but don’t microwave it! 

Boil it Away 

Another heat-based method that you can use is boiling. If you have a pot of boiling water already handy, leaving the knife in there is a good way to sanitize it. Heat up some water and make sure it’s boiling. Then, put the blade in the boiling water. Twenty minutes or so is a good way for you to guarantee your knife is usable. Take it out, let the knife cool, and then air dry it or pat it down.  Boiling is a good way to sanitize almost anything, unless that item will get damaged by boiling water.

Freezing it can Slow the Germs 

Freezing the knife or other utensils will not kill any germs. Instead, it makes them dormant. This can be a good way to prevent the spread of any bacteria or other germs should you not have anything handy to do the sanitizing, but you have your freezer. 

This Applies to All Utensils 

All utensils you use for cooking and eating should be properly sanitized. Again, this is something that seems a little obvious, but some people may reuse dirty utensils out of laziness, then wonder why they are sick. Always wash them after use, or if you are unsure. The dishwasher is your friend in this scenario. 


A kitchen knife is a valuable tool, and when you’re chopping food, you want it to be as clean as possible. By sanitizing your knife before every use, you’re making yourself healthier and making the food taste better too. It’s a quick process, and there’s no reason not to do it. So sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. That’s all there is to say about it. 

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