Are Steel Kitchen Knives Dishwasher Safe?

A question that concerns so many steel knife owners and even those who haven’t got one yet. The short answer is - NO! But we’ll try to break down the reasoning behind it, as we always do. So let’s see why is it not safe to put your steel knives in the dishwasher: 

  • Dishwasher cleaning products contain a lot of salt – the principal reason behind this is to act like a ‘sandblaster’ to clean off residual food stuffs. The chemical symbol for salt is NaCl; as this shows salt contains chloride ions. Chloride ions will attack the surface of the steel and cause pitting, eventually, these pits will allow internal rusting of the knife. This could eventually cause the knife to fail and potentially snap.
  • The strong water jets circulating in a dishwasher will cause the knives to move around inside the dishwasher and knock against each other and the racks – this will take the edge of the knives and cause them to become blunt much more quickly.
  • The handles on knives with wood handles will absorb water, this will cause the handles to split and eventually fail. Bear in mind that in a dishwasher the knives will be in contact with the water for an average of 2 hours at a time, when they are washed by hand it will be for only a few seconds.
  • For knives with aluminum rivets and plastic/POM handles the high heat over an extended period can cause the rivets to expand and contract causing the handle to crack and eventually fail.
  • And besides knives, you can damage other kitchen utensils, plates, the dishwasher itself, and even hurt your hands while unloading. 

How should you wash your steel knives?

Wash by hand in warm soapy water! This is by far the safest way to wash your knives no matter if they’re steel or not. When Hand-washing your knife, use only soft sponges while still ensuring the schmutz gets off. Never use abrasive sponges or scouring pumices as those can eventually dull a high-polished knife. A few quick swipes with a sponge or wet cloth will wipe away any dirt and leave your steel blades sparkling and sharp for years.

But make sure to use water from the hot tap and not boiling water, as the intense heat could still damage the blade even if only under boiling water for a few seconds. 

In conclusion: Experts say the heat, moisture, and detergent inside a dishwasher, combined with the rattling of the machine, can cause serious damage to good knives. So make sure to avoid the dishwasher when it comes to kitchen knives, especially steel ones. Hope this answers the big question. And if you want more tips on knife care, read our blog about how to make your kitchen knives last longer. 


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