I bought a hand crank can opener (Oxo) because of the good online feedback and only use the "shake" dry approach. It quickly developed rust in between the metal. If I invest the time and scrub, I can remove most of the rust.

When I initially posed the maintenance question in IRC concerning rust and utensils and kitchenware in general, I got suggestions from "spend a little on a decent one" to "you want stainless steel". I stored both answers as helpful for future purchases.

Just recently I noticed two can openers in the office pantry that both show rust. Obviously these were neglected and showed more corrosion. After seeing this, I am curious if rust is actually normal and harmless. Are there more expensive stainless steel can openers that are rust resistant? Should I be drying more rigorously? I just thought of another possibility: should I keep the can opener in a jar of cooking oil?

10 Answers 10


First, I would suggest you buy a higher quality can opener. I have a Swing-A-Way that I inherited from my grandmother. I think it's older than me.

Second, don't submerge the can opener in water every time you use it. I only full out wash it on the rare occasion I splash or drop something all over it. The rest of the time I just use my dishcloth to wipe the blade and handles clean and let it dry in the dish rack before putting it away.

  • very agreed; don't see the need to wash it all that often.
    – zanlok
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 22:02
  • This could be my specific problem. I automatically rinse the opener without thinking about the impact.
    – 杜興怡
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 18:13

I have a lot of canned food and have gone through my share of can openers. I'm generally OK with a rusty can opener, but I don't like the rust flakes getting into my food. I can't bear that metallic taste.

While I don't mind buying a new can opener (they sell them at the dollar general for two dollars), but I find it a bit wasteful.

This may sound a bit un-orthodox, but I use rubbing alcohol (90% or higher). I have a jar filled with it next to the sink, so I will rinse the can opener off, dip it in the jar of alcohol, and put it back in the drawer. It dries fine in there.

This also works for other rust-prone utensils like whisks.


I don't have an answer to your "choice of material" question, though I would tend to believe stainless steel is your best bet.

However, for preventing rust: Try cranking a paper towel through the spokes after you use and/or wash it, if that's where the rust is accumulating. It cleans and dries them very well, and I don't know if it's what's preventing rust on ours, but I do that every time and haven't noticed rust yet.


It's not just water that makes rust. mild acids speed up the process. Many canned goods are acidic, so to remove all traces of these rinse the metal part under running clean water, and shake dry

Then leave the opener in "open" position in a warm dry place to dry (on your bench by a window is ideal)

Do not put them away in the drawer while still damp

The "Brabantia" opener (white plastic handles) is a good mix of steel quality, long life design (no small springs to rust out), actual opening performance, and price


Rust (iron oxide) requires exactly three things to form: Iron, oxygen, and water. The first two are already in abundance, so in order to prevent rust, you need to minimize the third. Keep the can opener as dry as possible. Use a cloth or paper towel.

Stainless steel is corrosion "resistant"; it does not corrode or rust as easily as untreated iron or steel, but it can still corrode over time and will certainly tarnish. Again, the way to prevent this is to keep it dry.

I would not keep the can opener in a jar of cooking oil, because cooking oil can go rancid. Culinary-grade mineral oil would be okay, but it seems like a waste of oil to me; as long as you keep it dry, it won't rust.

Having said that, my can opener is pretty rusty and it doesn't bother me. Rust is definitely normal, and as long as the rust doesn't get into your food (which has never happened to me) then it is also completely harmless. It might not open cans as well if the blade itself is rusted, and that could potentially leave sharp edges on the opened can or lid, but that's highly individual and I'm sure you should be able to spot if and when that's happening. Personally, I don't bother to thoroughly dry can openers, because they're cheap enough that I can just buy a new one if they rust really badly.

But in general, yes, the two things you can do to minimize rusting on a can opener (or any other metal equipment) is to (a) use stainless steel and (b) keep it dry.

  • 1
    rust does cause the more friction in the "action", though. eventually my wife will complain, so we get a new one every 5 years or so.
    – zanlok
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 22:03

I generally wash the opener by hand but occasionally run it though the dishwasher. In both cases, after it is dry, I occasionally put drops of food grade mineral oil on the gears, etc. I use almond oil. I also use almond oil on my wooden cutting boards. (almond oil is a wonderful skin softener, too).

Swing-a-way was a great brand back in the day but the company/name has been sold out of China. That may account for the quality now. John J Steuby Co purchased the manufacturing equipment and making EZ-DUZ-IT can opener. It is made in the USA and the packaging is cheesy but this is the original Swing-a-Way with a new name.

http://www.sierravalleytrading.com/JOHN-J-STEUBY-CO_c_815.html (Make in the USA products)

I bought mine on Amazon but they may be available elsewhere.

  • I've flagged the other answer for moderator attention. I believe it should be possible for you to edit your own answers even with one reputation point. Maybe someone will correct me if I'm wrong on that. Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 20:25
  • You might want to register your account to make sure everything works - the old and new posts are on the same userid, so you should be able to do what you like with them. I think this link should work: stackoverflow.com/help/creating-accounts
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 22:35

You could try drying it with something like a hair dryer or compressed air if there's water in hard-to-reach places.


My stainless steel manual can opener is rusty. I'm soaking it in proxide now and I noticed the rust flakes comming off. I will use a tooth brush and hair dryer before putting away.


I use Virgin olive oil when my can opener seems not to work well, the Virgin olive oilk works good every time, my can opener works just as good as new and opens cans smoothly and evenly...try it, you'll see .

  • 1
    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. This isn't clear; are you lubricating the can opener? Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 1:33

I would throw it in the dishwasher, most are dishwasher safe, and the drying cycle might dry the opener better than just a towel. but that's me, i'm pretty lazy and don't like washing things by hand.

  • 1
    the extra-hotness of water in the dishwasher will promote rust. gears and blade are not stainless, and will eventually rust. wash by hand and dry thoroughly.
    – zanlok
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 22:01

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