How to Clean and Maintain Pocket Knife

Pocket Knife Cleaning and Maintenance

When is the last time you paid your pocket knife the deserved attention? Most people overlook this, especially if they use it for occasionally cutting zip ties, opening mail and packages. But, keeping your knife in a good condition is essential, because it can be dangerous to use when it’s dirty. They are usually made of stainless steel, but that doesn’t mean they will not rust. When exposed to base materials or strong acid, this steel runs the risk of rusting, especially if you don’t clean it adequately. Not caring for, can cause them to fail, break or corrode in the moments you are counting on them.

Proper maintenance is crucial if you want your knife to last. Our guide will offer you useful tips and explain how to clean a pocket knife to be safe and ready for any situation.



There are four harmful materials that you need to clean off of your blade – salt water, chemicals, base materials and acidic liquids. These substances can rust stainless steel and break down the knife. To protect it you need to maintain it properly.

Keeping your knives clean, especially paying attention to the folders, will protect the pivot from the debris that can affect it. For the supplies, you will need water, dish soap, toothpick, a toothbrush and cleaning formulas.

Wipe the cutting tool down, using dish soap or cleaning liquid and water. To get in small crevices, you need to use a toothpick or a Q-tip. You can submerge the knife under the water with soap, but make sure to remove any liquid with a rag and compressed air.

Bear in mind that if you let it sit for a while under the water, it will affect its materials. So, remove it on time. If you want some peace of mind, use blue Loctite on the screws when you are taking apart your pocket tool. As you may assume, the warranty can be void if you take it apart.


Your pocket tool includes moving parts meaning that you must lubricate it, especially mating surfaces such as slides, locking surfaces and the pivot. The best are wet petroleum-based lubricants that are almost the same as the sewing machine oil or gun lubricants. We recommend Benchmade Blu Lube or Sentry Solutions Tuff Glide.

Needless to say, if you want to use your pocket blade to prepare food, then it is best to use lubricants that are food-safe.  As a cheaper option, you can use food-grade mineral oil or simple vegetable oil.

Use a drop or two of oil when applying it on the pivot and start cycling or rotating the blade so you can work in the lubricant. With mid-lock or lock back knives target the blade’s tang at the spot where joins the lock bar.

You may also want to use lubricant as a preventative coat and apply it to the blade if your cutting tool is constructed of high-carbon steel. That is especially important if you live in an area with high humidity or use it around or in water.

In simpler words, put a light coat of oil on a blade and few drops on the pivot to prevent corrosion and rust.


When it comes to maintaining the that special knife that you will more than likely carry everyday , keeping it sharp is a priority. Sharpen it often, because it will be easier to do it again next time and it will always be ready to rock. To reprofile steel blade with a dull quality can be very frustrating, so it is essential to keep it sharp.


Spiff up rusted blades with different methods. But, before you do that, make sure to clean the knife first.

Lightly rusted blade – This rust can come off quickly with the knife cleaner or lubricant and soft rag.

Heavy rusted blade – If the rust won’t come off with the regular cleaner, use removing solution for rust. Make sure it won’t discolor the edge and is safe for stainless steel.

If you prefer the solution that is more natural, baking soda, onions, and potatoes are great options. Cut up an onion or leave the knife stuck in the potato for a couple of hours and the rust will disappear.


When storing the knife make sure the cutting tool is lubricated and cleaned. Bare metal parts, put a light coat on the blade and lubricate the pivot. Keep your knives away from the moisture, stored in a cool and dry place.


  • You can’t use the tip to pry with excessive force because it is knife’s weak part and it can break easily, instead use a hunting knife or a fixed blade knife.
  • Do not use your blade as a screwdriver. Otherwise, it can damage its shape.
  • Using a hammer to strike the tool is a bad idea, and can damage it.
  • If you leave the cutting tool wet, pivot’s functionality can be impaired and the blade will rust.
  • Sometimes people use sheath to store their knives or an OTF sliding knife where it’s enclosed and not exposed to harsh chemicals or conditions. But, if you leave it for an extended period it can encourage corrosion. So, make sure to avoid this kind of storage.


All knives are built to make your life easier and safer, whether it be a survival knife, tactical blade or even for bushcraft purposes it is essential to maintain them properly. Keeping your cutting tool at high working quality will ensure that it would not struggle or fail in critical situations. After every use, wipe the moisture or fingertips off and keep it dry with a soft chamois or all-cotton cloth.

Prolonged exposure and usage to salt water and gritty materials can damage your blade. For these reasons it is a great idea to clean and care for your knife correctly so it can last for a long time. Speaking of cleaning, make sure to lubricate and brush your pocket cutter once a month.

That is an excellent way to inspect it for other potential issues such as loose screws, or corrosion on the internal components and blade. We hope that you found this article useful and that you understood the importance of your pocket knife maintenance.

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