The Right Way to Store Your Knives, According to Knife Experts

Here's how to determine the best storage method for the sharpest tools in your kitchen.

Kitchen Knives Set on Wood Cutting Board
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Few tools get as much mileage in your kitchen as a great set of knives. Whether you're chopping onions, dicing potatoes, or carving a prime rib roast, using the correct sharp knife increases efficiency and makes the task all the more enjoyable. Your kitchen knives need to be stored carefully to keep them and you safe, and so they are easily available when you need them.

Knife storage options are plentiful, ranging from knife blocks and special drawer inserts to sheaths and magnetic strips. Here are some of the key factors to consider when weighing one against the other.

Knife Blocks: Preferred by Chefs

"The advantage of a knife block is it creates a specific storage area with, typically, a specific location for each blade. I think storage is about ease of access, both in putting the knife away and being able to find the right tool for the current task easily," says Bobby Griggs, vice president of Hammer Stahl Cutlery, known for knives featuring German high-carbon stainless steel blades.

The knife block is also a vehicle for showing off his cooking chops. Griggs takes pleasure in displaying his prized set of knives in plain sight, for all to see. "To me, it's like a piece of kitchen art that represents a passion," he says. "My family loves to cook and share meals with friends and family, so having a knife block on the counter, for me, is really a symbol of what is important to our lifestyle."

Materials Matter

Blocks made from acacia or bamboo are not only durable but affordable. Griggs notes that these dense woods proliferate in abundance, plus they're sustainable, moisture- and bug-resistant, and weather dents and scratches well. Another top contender is walnut, which is more expensive but can potentially last a lifetime.

Walnut and acacia woods are also a favorite of Henry Liu, founder, president, and CEO of Cangshan Cutlery Company, which specializes in handcrafted and hand-sharpened kitchen knives. He, too, prefers knife blocks for storage, finding them more accessible and visually appealing than the alternatives.

Another plus of blocks: they come in infinite configurations. Some are magnetic, others feature any number of slots, ranging from two or four to 20-something.

Is a Knife Block Right for You?

Other realities might also influence storage choices. Perhaps your prime counter spot is sink-adjacent and susceptible to water accumulation, which can cause the block's natural wood to warp or discolor. A knife block may also prove to be the wrong kind of temptation for curious little ones exploring the kitchen.

Choosing and Using a Knife Block

Running your knife over wood might reduce the blade's sharpness. "I always make sure that my blade fits the slot well without it being overly tight," Griggs says. "Additionally, I lean toward storage systems that allow the knife to be stored with the blade not resting directly onto the wood surface."

Other Knife Storage Options

Though knife blocks are the most popular storage solution, practicality and personal preference can dictate different choices. After all, not everyone has acres of counter space, or frequently uses their knives. "Every space is different," says Liu. "For compact kitchens, an in-drawer organizer or magnetic knife bar are also great options."

Magnetic Knife Bars

Griggs is also a fan of magnetic knife bars for their aesthetics and ease of access. "Make sure that you purchase a good quality bar," he warns. "You don't want the knife to fall accidentally and damage you or the knife."

He also suggests rolling the knives on and off a magnetic bar, with the spine rolling toward the blade edge when placing it on the magnet, and the knife edge away from the magnet and toward the spine when removing it.

In-Drawer Organizers

Knife storage solutions that fit inside a kitchen drawer include blocks and trays with slots for simple organization. They are often made from bamboo, maple, or walnut. Like bars, they don't hog valuable counter space.

Knife Sheaths

If blocks, bars, or in-drawer organizers don't quite cut it for your needs, consider keeping your sharp investment cloaked and hidden. "Quality knife sheaths are a great way to protect your blades as well, especially if they are being stored in a drawer," says Griggs. "I always look for sheaths that are felt-lined to make sure my knives stay beautiful inside the sheath."

Knife Storage Don'ts

One of the most practical ways to ensure that your knives are on hand the moment you need them? Banish that heap of knives, spatulas, spoons, and who-knows-what in your disorganized kitchen drawer forever. "Any good storage solution is always better than loosely storing knives in a drawer," says Liu. "Not only is this dangerous, but you could potentially dull your blades by exposing them to other tools and items in the drawer."

Sharp Tips

As with any kitchen tool, proper maintenance increases the durability of your knives. Knives should never go in the dishwasher; instead, they should be hand-washed for optimal performance. Liu emphasizes that it's essential to completely clean and dry knives before returning them to the slots of a wood block or attaching them to a magnetic block.

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