There are certain tools you buy that require a good deal of planning, researching or care to ensure you get the best option on the market to match your needs. When you have taken the time to research the best knife for your needs, giving it proper care after use is essential to ensuring a long-lasting tool. With these knife cleaning tips, keep your favorite tool in pristine condition and ready for use when you need it most.

1. Pay attention

The best of all knife cleaning tips is to pay attention to the state of your blade. If you wait too long to clean it, you will end up with caked on build up that can be hard to get off or require several washes to get the same result. In addition to being difficult to clean, a dirty knife can be downright useless and somewhat dangerous. For example, if the knife is used anywhere near food while camping, it could even lead to foodborne illnesses thanks to bacteria on the blade or handle. It is important to clean your knives regularly to avoid any issues.

2. Use warm water and a mild soap

One of the best knife cleaning tips is to keep it simple with warm water and a mild soap. While you may think a strong, heavy-duty cleaning solution is the best bet, most knives can be easily cleaned using warm water and dish detergent. If you use something too abrasive, you may end up damaging the blade or weakening any type of coating added to the blade for durability. For most knives, the use of warm water, dish detergent, and a sponge are enough to get them thoroughly cleaned without using any harsh detergents.

3. Use the right tools

The matter of safety can’t be stressed enough when it comes to tactical knife cleaning. It is far too easy to cut your fingers when cleaning the blade. You should take your time and pay careful attention to the cleaning of the blade. The best way to protect your fingers while cleaning is to use a thick kitchen sponge and cradle the blade in the sponge to avoid cutting your fingers. Another useful tool for cleaning knives is a Q tip since you can use it to clean the inside of the handle on folding blades. This area, called a pivot, can be hard to clean and a good deal of grime can accumulate making the knife harder to open and close over time. With a Q tip, you can easily clean this hard to reach area to ensure a working pivot.

4. Repeat until clean

When a knife is really dirty, you may think you need to use a harsher cleaning solution or a tougher sponge, but your best bet is to just take your time and repeat the cleaning process until clean. You should never soak a knife to clean it to avoid incidents or coating being removed. Simply clean it multiple times until it is restored to its previous pristine condition.

5. Dry the right way

After you clean the knife, drying the knife is essential. If you leave water or moisture anywhere on the blade, handle, or within the pivot in folding knives, you leave the tool vulnerable to rust which can render it useless in the future. Make sure you thoroughly dry the blade taking care with the sharp edge. To dry the pivot or inside the open parts of the handle, use a can of spray air to blast the water out to ensure a thorough dry.