How To Clean A Pocket Knife

What is the best method for cleaning my pocket knife? There is nothing quite like an EDC pocket knife that is clean, sharp, and has a smooth opening, so it is ready at a moment’s notice to slice, cut, or pierce.

Whatever the benefits of your favorite knife, if it is dull and discolored, it may cause some serious harm when cutting. Do you have any tips on how to keep your knife in good shape, clean, and ready for action?

Generally, pocket knife maintenance involves keeping the blades sharp, clean, and lubricated. The purpose of this post is to present a few of my favorite and most universally effective methods of cleaning pocket knives. Any folding knife can be cleaned using these techniques.

Therefore, continue reading to learn how to clean a pocket knife.

The following items are required by you

  • Rubber gloves with thick fingers
  • An old toothbrush
  • soap or detergent for washing dishes
  • several cotton swabs
  • some baking soda
  • along with white vinegar
  • 3-in-1 household lubricant
  • The rag or any soft cloth or paper towel (whichever you prefer)

Step 1: Wear the rubber gloves

First thing first, before cleaning a knife you should always put on a pair of thick rubber gloves to keep your hand protected from any accidental cuts and harmful chemicals getting into your skin.

Step 2: Remove piled up dust with a toothpick

Open the knife blade all the way up. You may find sands, grime, lint or loose dust pilled up on the pivot screw. With the help of a toothpick, remove the stuck-up gunks from your knife handle and the moving part.

If your knifeā€™s pivot point or the locking mechanism is not working smoothly, this shall fix the problem. Also, make sure you are doing this step on a dry knife because wet gunk is harder to clean.

Step 3: Rinse out the area and scrub it clean

You should run the knife under the warm part of the oven after removing the lint and grime. The hand shower is one method for performing this step. By spraying water into the handle, you can remove any excess dirt that may be stuck between the scales and clean the inside of the handle. It is also possible to use a compressed air can to remove loose dust if you are a bit extra like me.

In this step, you may accomplish three things.

The following steps must be followed if there is rust on the blade;

Step 3 (1): Wash the area with a paste of baking soda

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Make a thick paste by adding a sufficient amount of water. Combine the ingredients well and make a nice paste. Now, transfer the paste onto your toothbrush. 

If the blade has a light coating of rust, you can scrub it by scouring it with a little bit of baking soda paste and continue to do so until the results are satisfactory. If it is an old pocket knife and the blade is severely rusted, I recommend you cover it entirely with baking soda paste (only if the handle is stainless steel, do not use it on wooden handles). 

Allow it to stand for one hour before using. Afterwards, scrub it vigorously with a toothbrush. By doing so, you will remove all the rust from your knife.

In case your knife is contaminated with stubborn substances,

Step 3 (2) Brush the surface with three in one oil

You can use a brush, Q-tip, or rag to apply the 3-in-1 oil to and scrub it hard. The hardest substances to remove are stubborn deposits, such as tree sap. My preferred method of hand sanitizing or using 3-in-1 oil is when nothing else works. I find it is effective in removing pine needles and sap from hands.

In the event that your blade does not exhibit any rust issues,

Step 3(3) Washing the surface with dish soap

Spread some dish detergent or any mild soap on your knife and scrub it with one of those green scrubbers (like those we use in the kitchen).

You should always ensure that you have opened the blade all the way and that the locking mechanism is not clogged with dust or lint. A knife slicken with soap will be difficult to grip, so take care to secure your grip. You should thoroughly clean the moving parts and remove all grime and sand.

You must clean each tool individually if you are cleaning a multi-tool knife, such as the Swiss Army Knife. After scrubbing each blade, the blade should be closed again. Cleaning must be done individually and one at a time for safety reasons. The handling of soapy knives can seriously endanger your safety. 

Following a thorough cleaning, each component should be opened individually. Immediately following, the handle cavity needs to be cleaned. The cotton swabs or Q tips are ideal for getting into the corners and removing any dirt and debris that may have accumulated inside.

If the cleaning has been completed to your satisfaction, you should rinse with warm water carefully and thoroughly.

Step 4: Pat it dry

Let the knife dry completely. Paper towels or any other clean cloth can be used for soaking up excess water. After that, allow the area to air dry completely. People commonly make the mistake of disassembling the knife in order to clean it.

 In my opinion, however, this is a very simple way to ruin an otherwise fine knife. In addition, most knives come with a warranty these days. If you mail the company for assistance in repairing or cleaning your dull knife, the company’s excellent warranty will be applied. 

If you disassemble the knife, it will no longer be covered under the warranty. This should not be done.

Step 5: Lubricate

It is now time to massage your knife with oil after it has fully dried. Different kinds of lubricants can be used for this purpose. In the case of my pocket knives, I favor petroleum-based lubricants. 

Few drops of this lubricant should be applied to the pivot screw, blade, and other moving parts. In the case that your knife is used to cut foods, consider using mineral oil, olive oil, or coconut oil (basically any food-safe oil).

My kitchen knives are often coated with olive oil and coconut oil. The hunting knife I use is also oiled with gun oil. It works perfectly!

Clean the blade by wiping it with a dry cloth

To remove any excess oil, wipe it off with a paper towel or rag. A few drops of lubricant will go a long way; a little goes a long way. In the future, you will be able to avoid rust on the blade if you wipe it down.

It is advisable to wipe down the wooden handle of your knife with a little bit of lube in order to give it a nice shine.

Use white vinegar to clean the knife

Here are the items you will need:

  • A vinegar of white color
  • A bowl
  • Clean rag

Taking the vinegar as the first step

A bowl or pan should be filled with white vinegar. It is recommended to use a wide plate as well. Take something where the blade can be accommodated in its entirety.

In Step 2, soaking the knife in white vinegar

The entire knife should be soaked in vinegar for five to six  minutes. Soak only the blade portion of your knife if the handle is made of wood. You can also soak a paper towel or cotton swab in vinegar and place it on the rust stain if the scales inside the handle have rust and you do not want to soak the entire knife.

Step 3: Remove it with a damp cloth

After soaking the knife in vinegar for five minutes, wipe it with a clean cloth. By now, the knife should be sparkling. Otherwise, follow steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 above and you will be able to complete your task.

Aside from these two methods, there are also some products on the market that I swear by for removing rust. ZEP, CLR, and WD-40 are the most popular. They should be poured into a bowl and soaked for some minutes (Read the instructions) and scrubbed with a brush.

Once this is completed, your knife should be all ready for use. This procedure is only effective for extremely severe rust. A rust remover will not be able to repair a chipped and worn knife blade.

What are the best ways to prevent your knife from rusting?

Though most pocket knives are made of stainless steel, they can and will rust if they are exposed to water, high humidity, or sweat for an extended period of time. In addition, remember that some components, such as the spring, bolts, lock, and screws, may not be stainless steel.  As a result, the following steps should be followed to prevent rusting:

1. Dry fully before storing

Be sure to dry your knife completely after cleaning it. Any traces of water should be completely removed. It may be necessary to sundry the knife. Leave the knife exposed to the sun for ten to twenty minutes. That will help to ensure that the blade does not retain any moisture.

2. In the event that you see a very thin layer of corrosion, clean it immediately

You should take measurements as soon as you notice that the blade is beginning to rust. It is possible to remove very small amounts of rust by mixing a little bit of lemon juice with your dish soap.

3. Lube it often

Regularly wipe the surface with a few drops of oil. The moving parts and all the joints should be lubricated with penetrating oil to prevent their rusting. The moving parts and all the joints tend to rust easily.

Oiling the moving parts will also result in a more smoothly operating knife. It is important not to apply excessive oil to the blade. This will cause the blade to attract crud and sand.


There are numerous uses for a pocket knife, but all of these are rendered ineffective if the blade is not sharp and clean. According to me, rust is the cancer of knives.

The first time you observe rust, you should remove it as soon as possible. Maintaining your knife properly and taking good care of it will prolong the life of your knife.

I hope you found this article useful. Please take your time while cleaning the knives. It is likely that the rust will eventually wear off.

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