Are Knives Dishwasher Safe (How to Clean Kitchen Knives Effectively)

After getting your dishwasher, this sounds like the best time to kick back and never have to manually wash anything again.

But then again, you remember that kitchen advice where you should never put your knives in a dishwasher.

Now that new technology has emerged in the dishwasher space, though, are knives still unfit for the dishwasher?

Experts agree that knives should never be put in the dishwasher to prevent damages to the blade, other items in the dishwasher, and the dishwasher itself. Knives should be cleaned by hand, preferably after each use, and stored back in their specific compartments.

Read on to find out more about why knives are not dishwasher safe – and what you should do instead.

Why You Should Never Put Your Knives in A Dishwasher

It is one thing to tell you to not put your knife in a dishwasher. Why is that the norm, though?

I went around collecting different expert opinions and also observing some trends for myself.

For starters, here are some reasons to support the need to keep your knife away from the dishwasher:

Damage to the Knife

The dishwasher throws things around in there. This tumbling motion can get the knives hitting other utensils and items in the dishwasher, impacting the edge.

If you have taken the time to study the different parts of a knife, you know that the edge is the best part of the whole setup.

You should not put all that time, effort, and money into a good knife only to have it ruined by your dishwasher.

Damage to other items

There is almost no way you’d put the knife into your dishwasher that it won’t damage something.

Pointed down, your knives could ruin the utensil basket which just gives you another expense to deal with.

Pointed upwards, you run the risk of getting nicks and scratches on cups, plates, and spoons. In fact, the knife can scratch the inside of the machine itself and cause some serious problems for you.

Occurrence of rust

When you clean your knives by hand, you control the amount of water that gets in and around the knife.

In a dishwasher, the water jet can cause water to get into the knife scales, behind the rivets, and such other places.

Those areas are not as exposed as the body of the blade so they won’t dry at the same rate. Even if you used a soft cotton towel to dry your knife after each wash, you won’t be able to get into those inner compartments.

In no time, those inner parts start to rust (learn how to remove rust from your knife here).

When the innards of the knife handle and scales start rusting, they can also lead to the next problem on the list.

Knife scale/ handle removal

Your knife will endure a lot of tumbling and rolling around inside that dishwasher. Especially if it is a knife with a wooden handle, the chances that the handle comes off increases.

Removing the knife scales to put another one in there is a good reason to get the handle off. When the handle starts falling off by itself, though, you have a poor case on your hands.

Risk of personal injury

A less explored reason why you should never put a knife in the dishwasher is your safety.

We don’t talk about this as much in knife safety but you run the risks of cutting yourself when the knife is in there.

It might not even be you who bears the brunt of that decision but another family member/ member of the house who reaches into the dishwasher without knowing that there is a knife in there.

Of course, these dishwashers are not safe for the knives and most people would assume that you didn’t throw one in there. If they reach in with that mindset, their fingers/hands might get caught on the knife’s edge.

I don’t even want to think about what happens from there.

High-temperature damage

Dishwashers are designed to use a heated water jet so that they don’t only clean the utensils you put inside them, but also disinfect them at the same time.

That is all great till we come to knives.

That heat is more likely to ruin the knife steel and handle. The chances of getting your knife ruined by the hot water stream are increased if you have a high carbon stainless steel blade and/ a wooden handle to match.

Strong detergents

Strong detergents, such as those used in dishwashers, can cause the knife to discolor or get duller.

Even if your knife isn’t going to be walking the runway soon, care about the sharpness of the blade at least.

Are Stainless Steel Knives Dishwasher-Safe?

Stainless steel knives have been here for a long time now and it seems like they can never break.

They are durable, for sure, but they rely on you to take good care of them also.

Here’s what I mean here.

Different kinds of stainless steel go into knife-making. The fact that something works for VG10 stainless steel does not mean that it will work for blue steel.

The combination of heat and strong, abrasive detergents used in the dishwasher will ruin stainless steel knives. Even though the steel is called ‘stainless,’ this hot water-detergent combination could leave serious stains on the knife.

Finally, the force of the water jet pushes the stainless steel knife against the utensil basket and/ other utensils, chipping the edge and dulling the knife.

Can You Put Ceramic Knives in A Dishwasher?

I believe ceramic knives are at an even higher risk of getting ruined in a dishwasher than stainless steel knives.

Stainless steel knives can still withstand the turbulence from being jostled and tumbled around for multiple cycles. It might take only a single cycle to snap your brittle ceramic knives in two.

The parts of your ceramic knives are more susceptible to chipping also, due to their brittleness. The washing cycles from a dishwasher, causing these chips, can lead to personal injury when your hand/ fingers catch one of those chipped shards.

Thus, ceramic knives should never be put into a dishwasher and be strictly washed by hand.

Can Some Knives Be Washed in The Dishwasher?

Consumers and buyers like yourself might get confused by some marketing efforts geared at capturing a wider market audience.

For example, Zwilling is one of the trusted brand names for me when buying knives. Thus, when they announced a new line of knives that could be safely washed in the dishwasher, I decided to take a closer look.

It turns out the company added some fine print about how washing the knives this way could reduce their lifespan and make the knife go dull faster.

I don’t think those are risks worth taking, so keep washing your knives by hand.

How to Clean Your Knives Effectively After Use

Surprisingly, cleaning your knives right is not at all difficult.

Just a few things to keep in mind and you will always have a clean knife all the time.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Timeliness – make sure to clean the knife immediately after use. This makes it easier to clean, prevents the build-up of bacteria, and helps knives last longer
  • Rinse first – before cleaning the knife properly, it is advised that you rinse it off first. That gets food items off the body of the knife, preventing the rubbing of food debris against the blade steel when cleaning,
  • Use dish soap – with your usual dishwashing soap, gently scrub the body of the knife (avoiding the edge) on both sides. You can also wash the handle with the same dish soap.
  • Rinse, again – now that you have the debris off, and you have cleaned the rest of the food with the dish soap, rinse the knife under warm water.
  • Dry – you can leave your knife to air dry but that will accelerate the rate of corrosion and rust. Dry the knife off with a cotton towel and store it appropriately.

Waiting to clean your knife could cause food to dry on the knife, making it harder to clean and increasing the chances of a knife-based injury.

Likewise, you can rinse your knife in cold water if you don’t have warm water handy. However, warm water is non-negotiable if you just used the knife on poultry, meat, or fish.

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