How To Clean A Knife Block
There are certain areas within the kitchen that tend to be cleaned less often that others. The trusty knife block that’s holding that great set of kitchen knives is one of these areas. The vast majority of us will have a sturdy wooden knife block that features narrow slots at differing depths. The shape of the slots makes them hard to clean and easy to ignore.
This combination of facts usually means the block is not properly cleaned as often as it should be.
The longer knife blocks are left to contain festering dirt and bacteria the more dangerous they become. Many of us are in the habit of using our chef knives right away straight out of the block that holds them. If the block and its slots are unclean, the knife is made unclean as it sits in the slot. It is horrible to use a dirty knife for preparing a food like salad which requires no further cooking which can cause food contamination.
In this case the bacteria from within the block goes directly from the knife onto your food. For this reason it is very important to keep your block as clean as possible. Here we go over a step by step guide on how to effectively clean your knife block. It is best to follow the steps in order to prevent making little errors that could cause further issues later.
- Vacuum cleaner or hair dryer wood
- Friendly kitchen cleaning solution or malt vinegar
- Pipe cleaners
- Kitchen cloth
Read more: Cleaning a cutting board
Remove Knives And Place Them Safely Away From Your Area of Work
If your block is dirty, your knives are likely to be dirty. Remove them, wash them and then be sure to place them down on a sturdy surface, away from edges and not pointing up. You’ll need placed well away from you while you work to avoid any accidents.
Tip Out Any Free Excess Dirt Or Debris
If it has been a really long time since your block has been turned upside down, it will likely have bits of dirt and debris within its slots. Turn it upside down, give it a shake and a tap to get out as much loose dirt as you can.
Dislodge Dirt With A Pipe Cleaner
Pip cleaners are handy for work like this as they typically bend to your desired shape while offering enough strength to poke, prod and scrub at surfaces. Use a single dry pipe cleaner to have a wipe within each slot around all sides. If you feel any spots of dirt, try to scrub them loose. It is important to do this step dry and not to use any moisture.
Vacuum Each Knife Slot
The best tool for removing the dust caught within each slot as well as any debris you have scrubbed free is a vacuum cleaner. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer can provide reasonable results but won’t be nearly as effective as a vacuum cleaner. It is best to vacuum each slot individually one at a time with a head that just about fits around each slot tightly.
The best results will come from having the vacuum head fit over the slot in a way that allows no loss of pressure. This will create suction that is mighty enough to extract as much dirt from each slot as possible.
Apply Cleaning Solution To Each Slot With A Second Pipe Cleaner
Now that the vacuuming is done, you can cover a new pipe cleaner with the cleaning solution or vinegar, and apply it to each slot with another scrub. This will eliminate bacteria within each slot.
It is best to keep the amount of moisture applied to wooden objects minimal. Do not soak the block or drench it in soapy water even if you’re using less abrasive homemade dish soap. As a natural material, wood will tend to absorb moisture.
When it is left to absorb great amounts of moisture, wood can expand and contract as it dries. This expanding and contracting can lead to the development of cracks within its surface. The cracks in a wooden surface can collect bacteria which festers to create mold which will cause your food to spoil quickly. When this happens the cracks can be forced to widen further.
Generally the more moisture a wooden object comes into contact with, the faster it is likely to degrade.
Wipe All Other Surfaces Of The Block With The Kitchen Cloth
You probably clean the outside surfaces of the block every time you clean the kitchen. This can mean the outside surfaces have far less dirt built up on them than within the knife slots. Give all surfaces of the block a wipe over, being careful not to drench the block in too much moisture.
Leave The Block To Dry Completely Before Putting The Knives Back In
It is always best to avoid leaving knives to soak in water. Let the block dry completely before placing the knives back in. If the block is still wet it can cause the knife blades to become dull and then you’ll need to do even more work sharpening all of your knives.
Make Sure Knives Are Dry Before Putting Them Back In The Block
If you cleaned the knives and left them to dry before you started cleaning the block, they will likely be perfectly dry. It is important to only insert knives into the block when you are sure the knife is completely dry. Wooden knife blocks are great for keeping your knives sharp. (see our guide on how to sharpen your knives here) Moisture allows bacteria to thrive. If you allow little bits of moisture to enter the slots in the block and remain there, bacteria within the slots is likely to grow rapidly.
For this reason you should ensure all knives are dried completely before placing them back into the block.
Prevent Bacteria Growth And Food Contamination
It is easy to think of your knife block as a simple safety and storage tool. The truth is, you need to clean your knife block often to avoid bacteria from thriving and being allowed to travel from your block to your plate. Even the best butchers knives don’t offer bacterial protection.
Neglecting your block for long periods of time can lead to spreading contamination. Give it a good clean today and regularly to avoid the risks.