The Hidden Hazard Lurking in Your Dish Rack (and What to Do About It)

published Feb 19, 2024
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

As a mother of five, I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. This is a big part of why kitchen organization, a streamlined fridge, and helpful tools like my workstation sink and glass rinser are so important to me. Anything that can make our time in the kitchen more efficient (and easier) is money very well spent!

Oftentimes as I’m cooking or cleaning, a kid or a few are with me in the kitchen hanging out. Like many households’ kitchens, it’s a room where we not only eat together, but also spend time together. But recently something really scary happened there.

A few months ago, my 7-year-old son was playing with some trucks on the floor while I washed dishes. He got up to go do something else, and it was a good thing because within seconds, it happened: I put a freshly washed dish in my countertop dish rack and my hand hit the handle of a knife that was sticking out of the cutlery section. The knife went flying out of the dish rack and landed right where my son had been just moments before. 

As soon as I caught my breath and my heart slowed down, I wondered how I’d never recognized this hazard before. Any long knife is at risk of flipping out of the dish rack like that as my hands move quickly near all the drying dishes. I made a conscious decision to never, ever put any knives (other than butter knives) in the cutlery section again, and also told my husband the story so he’d know not to do it either. 

Our solution at first was to set the knives blade-down in the tray portion of the dish rack — this way, at least the knives wouldn’t flip out. But I still felt a bit uneasy with the knives there because sometimes they tilted over and I didn’t want our hands grazing the blade as we set other dishes out to dry. 

I dug into the matter a bit further. I knew there had to be a right way to wash and dry knives safely. Turns out, the best thing to do is hand-dry knives as soon as they’re washed and put them away right away. 

Drying knives and putting them away immediately is safer not only for people, but also for the knives. Northside Knives, a company that creates custom handmade knives, says on its website, “Don’t leave your knife in a dish rack or uncovered in a drawer. Not only is it dangerous to people, but other utensils and cutlery can also bump and damage the knife.” Victorinox, the manufacturer of Swiss Army knives, offers an additional reason on its site: “Don’t let your knives air-dry, as this can result in limescale spots on the blade. Instead, use a cotton or linen towel to dry the knife immediately after washing.” 

I learned a lot more than I bargained for from my kitchen knife scare, and this lesson has made my family safer and increased the longevity of my knives. Who would’ve thought?