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7 Ways You're Ruining Your Kitchen Knives

If you have blades you love, keep them sharper and make them last longer by avoiding these common knife care mistakes.

David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or the best way to cook bacon. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits
David Watsky
4 min read
aura knife on butting board

Keeping your best blade in excellent condition means breaking a few bad habits. 

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Even a great chef's knife is only as good as the condition it's in. Kitchen blades both expensive and budget-friendly can be damaged easily, but knowing how to use, store and care for your best knives will keep them in fighting shape for much longer. If you have a chef's knife you love, you want to follow a few simple rules and avoid a few common mistakes to keep that knife in top shape for years.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is storing their knives improperly. (I had to seriously reprimand my parents when I found out they were keeping knives loose in a drawer.) But there are less obvious habits that are damaging the blade often beyond repair, such as scraping it sideways on a cutting board or oversharpening which can cause blade attrition.

If you're looking for a great new knife, we've tested more than 10 to find the best chef's knives for 2024. If you've got one you love, below you'll find a list of the most common kitchen knife use and care mistakes that will ruin even the highest quality knife in no time.

Seven habits that will ruin a chef's knife

1. Scraping it sideways on the board


Using your knife as a scraper is a hard habit to break, but the blade will thank you.

David Watsky/CNET

Knives are only made to cut in two directions, back and forth and not side to side, so try not to use your good knives in a scraping manner. It may be instinct to move and gather all that chopped food on the board with the blade of the knife but it will damage the edge over time. If you can't break the habit completely, at least try and do it gently and without much downward force. 

2. Using it on anything other than wood or plastic 


Even one slice on a glass or marble surface can do irreparable damage to your chef's knife.

David Watsky/CNET

There are boards and blocks made from all sorts of materials but many of them are not knife-friendly. Stone or marble boards and glass surfaces should be reserved for serving food, not preparing it (at least not with a knife) since they will dull your blade faster than almost anything else.

Bamboo and plastic are the softest -- and often cheapest -- cutting board materials and will be gentle on your blades. Most other types of wood cutting boards, however, have enough give not to damage the blade. 

3. Storing it free in a drawer 

knife in drawer with other tools

Not only will this setup ruin your knife, but you're bound to hurt yourself eventually.

David Watsky/CNET

This is probably the biggest mistake folks make with their kitchen knives. I've seen it more times than I can count and it hurts every time. Letting your knives clink around in a drawer with other knives and metal tools will dull or chip them over time. It's understandable to not want a clumsy knife block on the counter, but there are some pretty sleek options these days like this and this

You can also buy in-drawer wooden knife racks or sheath your knives in plastic cases. The coolest option may be to store the knives on one of these magnetic knife racks and show off your shiny blades to dinner guests. Just be gentle when placing knives on and removing them from the magnet so as not to scrape the blade.

4. Letting it sit in the sink or putting it in the dishwasher

knife in a sink

Try to get that chef's knife out of the sink and dry it off before you sit down to eat.

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For many reasons, your knives should never go in the dishwasher. It'll likely damage the handles, and the blades should never be exposed to water for that long. Speaking of which, never let a knife sit wet in the sink or anywhere else for that matter. That means no soaking, ever, and when you've finished washing it by hand, dry it immediately or the metal will become susceptible to rust and corrosion.

5. Cutting nonfood items or using your knife as a general tool

Amazon boxes inside a delivery truck

Don't use a good chef's knife to open your Amazon boxes.

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Good knives may seem like a multipurpose tool but they should only be used for food prep. Try not to cut any nonfood items like plastic, cardboard or other packaging. And don't even think about employing your knife as a screwdriver or lever to pry open something stuck.

6. Using a metal scrubber or rough sponge to clean it

steel wool on blue backdrop

Steel wool is great for some dishwashing jobs but will ruin your knife's edge in seconds. 


It shouldn't come as a surprise that using metal or another rough material to clean your knife blade could lead to big problems. Instead, use hot water and a soft sponge or cloth. Your knives should never be so dirty that those aren't enough to get them clean. 

7. Oversharpening the blade


Sharpening is good. Oversharpening is bad. 

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There comes a point at which a knife blade can't be sharpened anymore, and if you continue to pound it on a steel or whetstone, you'll only be shaving off the blade itself and shortening the knife's life span. Here's a guide to sharpening your kitchen knives.