Sharpen Up

3 Ways Your Knife Block Is Doing More Harm than Good

published Oct 12, 2018
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Knife blocks seem like a good idea. They keep your knives safely contained and look pretty cool on the countertop. I mean, anytime you can put a big block of wood in your home, you feel like you earn street cred just by looking at it. Often included as a value-add when you buy a set of knives, knife blocks come in all shapes and sizes, and are typically made of a single block of wood with angled slots just big enough for your knives to slide into.

But despite the convenience, and that fact they’re solely meant to organize your knives, they’re actually not that great. Here are three ways your knife block is doing more harm than good.

What You Should Get Instead?

A magnetic knife strip! Like the one pictured above! It’s wood, so you still get that look you get with a knife block — just magnetic, well-reviewed, and just $13 (which means you can get a few if you have a lot of knives to store).

1. It’s causing you to over-buy.

Most people acquire the knife block when they buy a set of knives. It seems like a good deal to get a set of 18 knifes — plus the block! — for half the price of buying them individually. But most kitchen pros find that you don’t need that many knives to begin with, and you’re left paying for extras that you’ll never use or need.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

2. It’s dulling your knives.

All knives get dull over time — it just happens. But if you run that blade over hard surfaces, like metal or a glass cutting board, you’re speeding up the process. Well, the same thing happens when you slide your knife into a knife block. That sliding process, plus resting the blade on the inside of the slot, actually dulls the blade just as quickly as some of those other bad practices. In fact, Cook’s Illustrated found that it can dull a blade after just 70 slides into the knife block — whereas a knife stored on a magnetic strip stays sharp after more than 200 uses.

3. It’s full of germs.

Okay, so you own a knife block. Have you ever actually cleaned it? If not, beware: Those deep, dark crevices provide a great environment for bacteria and mildew to multiply. The National Sanitation Foundation found yeast and mold in household knife blocks in one study, which makes sense: Dust and debris can easily accumulate in a high-traffic spot like a countertop, and putting knives in there while still slightly wet makes it even worse. So every time your knife slides out of there, it’s bringing the risk of contamination with it. If that doesn’t convince you to ditch your knife block, at least clean it monthly: Shake out debris, then tackle the insides with a bottle brush and bleach solution and make sure it dries completely before you use it again.

Do you have a knife block? Do you stand by it no matter what?