How to Clean a Pocket Knife: 3 Steps Within 5 Minutes

Typically, we can clean a pocket knife regularly with proper care as other kitchen knives. This is common because you use and wash kitchen knives every day, but only need pocket knives when cutting plastic or open packages, cardboard boxes, etc. Please, do not ignore this cleaning process because a dirty and dull knife can be incredibly dangerous to you when using. Therefore, the followings are some simple steps on how to clean a pocket knife:


The tools you need to clean your pocket knife are simple, nd you can found them around the house. In specific, you will need:

  • An old toothbrush
  • Toothpick
  • Swab
  • Lubricant (read the lubricant suggestion below to choose the right type)
  • Mild detergent
  • Warm water
  • Towel

How to Clean a Pocket Knife

Remove the loom and dirt

The first thing you need to do when you clean any pocket knife is to remove small substances stuck inside the handle.  Light and short fibers in the pocket may fly in the pivot and locking area, thus affect the knife’s function.

Then, you have to open the knife and use toothpicks to remove all the fine fibers and unpleasant sticky substances.

Open the knife

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Besides, make sure the pocket knife is dry before you clean it so that the cleaning tools are not wet and stuck inside.

In case you do not have a toothpick, you can use a screwdriver or other probe.

Clean and wash knife with warm water

This is the most important step on how to clean a pocket knife.

After your pocket knife is free from grime and dirt, the next thing to do is wash it out. Rinse the entire knife and especially the parts inside the handle in warm water. After that, use an old toothbrush dipped in mild detergent to rub the knife gently.

Remove the loom and dirt

Image source: Instructables

Especially, you need to be careful with the lock parts. Make sure you have flushed all the dirt, fabric, sand, or unpleasant substance out of the lock area. This is important because it affects the safety of the user when the knife is in the open position.

Importantly, do not forget to clean the entire blade and handle as well. Normally, with this step you will restore their original shiny state.

Those are what you have to do with a single blade knife. What about a multiple tool? Experts recommend that you should clean each tool individually. Start the process of opening, rubbing with soap, and closing them one by one. Once all the tools have been cleaned, open them all and clean them thoroughly again.

The area that needs the most attention is internal. The best way to clean the nooks and grooves inside the knife is using a cotton swab.

Dry the knife with towel

After thoroughly cleaning the knife, use a towel to wipe off excess water on the surface. Let the knife dry naturally for about 15 minutes before starting the lubrication.

Dry the knife with towel

Image source: Boys’ Life magazine

Note that the drying step must be performed carefully in term of not causing any damage. Besides, do not remove all parts of the knife for drying unless you want to lose the warranty from the manufacturer.

Sometimes, if your knife has a problem, using warranty is a smart idea. After a short time, the manufacturer will return you a sharp and shiny pocket knife that is as good as new.

Lubricate the pocket knife

After your knife has been thoroughly dried, the last step is to lubricate it. Apply lubricant to lock, pivot, hinges, slides, and other moving parts, so they can run smoothly.

When it comes to choosing lubricants, there are many options that you can consider. Most lubricants for knives have the same ingredients with oils used for sewing machines, guns, or mineral oils. Nowadays, many people prefer to use wet lubricant with petroleum based rather than dry spray type that easily attracts dirt and lint.

Moreover, if you plan to carry a knife to cut food during the picnic, use a lubricant that is safe for food. In this case, mineral oils such as wood block oil or vegetable oil are acceptable.

Lubricate the pocket knife

Image source: SOG Knives

When applying lubrication, use only 1 or 2 drops spread over the target areas. Wipe off any excess oil on the knife surface. This is also a good time to wipe the blade and handle to prevent rust even when your knife is made of stainless steel.


In general, these steps on how to clean a pocket knife are quite similar to kitchen knives. Many people forget to take proper care of their pocket knife, which reduces its life span and safety. Clean and lubricate your pocket knife at least once a month to get the best performance.