I've read that one should hand-wash knives, and I mostly buy that. I've also seen advice that one should dry them immediately and put them away.

Why shouldn't knives air-dry? Aside from the unsightly water stains, is there any downside to letting knives air-dry?

Edit: We have Henckel full-tang knives. Rust is a real concern -- we had them sharpened, and the shop did a lousy job -- the edges are ragged.

3 Answers 3


It's to prevent rust. Rust requires oxygen and water to form. The longer you leave your knives wet or damp the more likely you are to develop rust.

  • 5
    To add on to this, most good quality knives will NOT be 100% stainless, since you need a balance of carbon steels to both keep and edge and be easily sharpened or honed.
    – JNK
    Sep 22, 2010 at 12:06
  • Not "a balance of carbon steels" ... "carbon steel" is a term used to describe completely NON-stainless steels (do not confuse with "high-carbon stainless steel" ). But yes, the kind of stainless steel used for good quality knives is chemically and metallurgically different from the extremely rust proof (austenitic) type used for stainless cookware (which you could not harden to the degree needed to keep an edge). Sep 6, 2016 at 9:35

Another concern, if you knives have wooden handles, is warping.

  • 1
    And splitting. I worry endlessly about my sashimi knife. Light as a feather, wooden handle. I know that thing's gonna split one day. And it will be a sad day.
    – daniel
    Sep 22, 2010 at 7:40
  • 5
    @roux I put some food-grade mineral oil on mine. It's supposed to help keep cutting boards from splitting, so I thought I'd give it a try...
    – Bob
    Sep 22, 2010 at 12:15
  • 1
    Yeah, I oil mine, but it's still a concern. The knife was a gift, I want it to last as long as possible.
    – daniel
    Sep 22, 2010 at 19:27
  • Japanese knives have expensive blades and simple (cheaper) handles. You can get the blade reset with a new handle.
    – Chef
    Jan 10, 2011 at 15:39
  • Japanese knives have expensive blades and simple (cheaper) handles. You can get the blade reset with a new handle. I think Korin in new york can do this for you.
    – Chef
    Jan 10, 2011 at 15:40

Water stains, rusting (depending on the sort of knife you have).

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