- Mould and bacteria are probably living in your knife block – even if you can’t see them on the outside.
- Both these things love warm, humid environments – and it’s even better if there are little crumbs of food involved.
- To rid yourself of this problem, you’ll need to thoroughly clean and sanitize – with bleach – and then let your block completely air dry before putting your knives back into it.
- If you want a simpler solution, you could always trade in the wooden knife block for a magnetic knife strip.
Chances are good that you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your knife block. It’s there on your counter, silently standing ready and holding some of the most useful utensils in your kitchen.
Unfortunately, even if you carefully wash your knives every time you use them – which Consumer Reports recommends always doing by hand and not in the dishwasher – your trusty knife block is likely a breeding ground for mould and bacteria.
A dark, relatively undisturbed space that is warm, moist, and contains crumbs is a perfect breeding ground for unwelcome mould and bacterial guests, as we first learned via Apartment Therapy.
In a professional kitchen, knife blocks are usually made of plastic, stainless steel, or a combination, like this one – and they come apart for easy cleaning and sanitizing.
But in most home kitchens, knife blocks are frequently made of some type of wood – and it’s a single piece, so it’s more difficult to clean.
There are many types of mould – but they all love warmth and humidity, according to the USDA. Add in the fact that most people rarely think about cleaning their knife blocks and you have a great place to live if you’re the right type of fungi or bacteria.
You can clean your knife block with a small amount of active time – but don’t rush the drying time afterward
The Today Show spoke to Allan Rathey, principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute, about cleaning your moldy knife block. He recommended taking the time to first get all the crumbs out of it that you can while it’s dry because they’re much easier to remove than when they get wet.
After that, thoroughly scrub your knife block inside and out with your favourite dishwashing liquid and hot water. Use a bottle brush or pipe cleaner to get inside those knife crevices – and take time to do it thoroughly.
Then rinse until the water is no longer sudsy and allow to air dry completely – overnight is ideal. If you’re a morning person, scrubbing it down before you go about your daily activities and then moving on to the sanitizing step in the evening could work, as well.
For best results, the USDA recommends using a chlorine bleach solution to sanitize hard surfaces in your kitchen
No matter what type of wood your knife block is made of, you can use a bleach solution to sanitize it according to the USDA.
To do this, use 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water – then soak your knife block in it for several minutes. Drain the bleach solution and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Allow the block to air-dry thoroughly before you even consider putting the knives back in
If it’s still wet when you put the knives away, the mould and bacteria will just move right back in. For this reason, the Apartment Therapy recommends waiting a full 12 hours – at the very least – before putting your knives back in place.
To prevent future mould and bacterial growth, clean and dry your knives and knife block thoroughly every time – and don’t let the block go completely unattended for long periods of time.
If the mould is really bad, you may need to use sandpaper – or replace the block entirely
Sanding might take more time and effort – and you’ll probably want to wear eye protection and a face mask to keep from breathing the particles in or getting them in your eyes. You could get a new knife block if this is the case – as long as you can find one to fit your particular set of knives, which isn’t always as easy as you’d think.
Magnetic knife strips can make your life easier, if you have the space – just be careful how you put your knives away.
To keep from accidentally nicking the cutting edge of your knives on a magnetic knife strip, Epicurious recommends always angling the blunt back side of the knife toward the strip so that it’s the first part to make contact and then snugging it into place as desired.
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