As kitchen gear goes, a knife is pretty tough—it’s a chunk of steel, after all. It won’t explode like a wine glass or stain like a towel. You don’t need to change its batteries or remember to turn it off after using it.
But in order to get the best performance of out your knife, you should follow a few basic maintenance dos and don’ts:
STORE your knives in such a way that the edges won’t bump against anything (including curious fingers). Many a knife has become dull not from overuse, but from lying innocently in a drawer. Knife blocks and magnetic wall-mounted strips are both good; if your knife must live in a drawer, keep it in a sheath or the box it came in.
BEFORE starting to use your knife each day, give it a 15-second honing [link to sharpening/honing article]. This will freshen up the blade for easier cut and help your knife keep its edge longer.
CUT with your knife. That is, don’t use it to pry open can lids, turn screws, or stir pots. And when you do cut, cut reasonably cuttable materials. It can be tempting to hack through chicken bones or cardboard boxes with your beloved chef’s knife, but its sharp edge will suffer in the process.
WHEN you cut, cut on a proper cutting board made of wood or plastic. Don’t cut on the countertop (unless it’s made from wood), don’t cut on a plate (unless it’s plastic), don’t cut in the skillet. Remember that knife edges are very thin, delicate things that are prone to bend, dent, and chip in microscopic ways.
AFTER you use your knife, hand-wash it and then dry it immediately with a towel. Don’t let it sit with food on it for any length of time—especially not acidic foods like lemons or tomatoes— and don’t let it air dry. Because it’s so thin, even a stainless steel edge is susceptible to corrosion.