Chop, slice, and dice your way to organized and protected knives.
Aside from sharpening them frequently, one of the best ways to take care of your knives is to store them properly. While it’s easy to just throw your knives in a kitchen drawer with the rest of your utensils, eventually that practice can cause them to dull and potentially chip.
Wooden knife blocks are certainly the most common way to store everything from a honing steel to kitchen shears to your all-purpose chef’s knife, but we were curious if it really was the best way to store knives. Chef Michael Garaghty (“Chef Mike”), the in-house executive chef for WÜSTHOF, helped us to break down the pros and cons of three popular styles of knife storage—a wooden knife block, magnetic knife bar, and plastic knife edge-guards.
Wooden Knife Block
Most home cooks have a knife block on their counter for holding a variety of knives. “My storage preference at home is a knife block; it keeps my knives organized and easily available on my kitchen counter,” says Chef Mike. To sanitize the knife block, Chef Mike recommends soaking the block in a mixture of one gallon of lukewarm water and one tablespoon of household bleach for about two minutes, then let it air dry completely on a clean, dry towel.
Pros: Knife blocks can hold your entire set of knives, shears, and sharpening tools in one place. It’s easy to organize your knives, as each has a designated slot, then grab them on the fly. Of course, knife blocks also look attractive on the counter and can show off your impressive collection.
Cons: Depending on the model and number of slots, knife blocks are the most expensive of the three storage options, typically ranging between $40 to $80 for a high-quality version. They also may harbor bacteria if you don't properly wash and dry your knives before sliding them back, so don't forget that step.
Magnetic Knife Bar
Want the look of a gourmet kitchen in your own home? Consider a magnetic knife bar, which holds all of your knives at a vertical angle, and is popular among professionals. “When working in a commercial kitchen, a magnetic bar is a great option to keep my knives out and quickly accessible for the faster-paced environment,” adds Chef Mike.
Pros: We love magnetic knife bars for small kitchens that lack tons of counter space. Whereas knife blocks take up lots of space on the counter, magnetic knife bars can be easily installed on a wall in an area that may otherwise not get much use. They also serve as an attractive way to display your knives and you can easily see the knives to choose the right one for the task.
Cons: Unlike blocks or plastic guards, magnetic knife bars do require a little bit of DIY to ensure that it is level and secure on the wall.
Plastic Knife Edge-Guard
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to store your knives in a drawer, plastic knife edge-guards are the best option. Messermeister and Williams-Sonoma are our favorite brands for these simple slide on-and-off guards. They also offer a safe and easy way to transport your knives, as the sharp blade is completely concealed.
Pros: If you don’t have a large collection of knives, we recommend plastic knife guards. You can buy them individually for less than $10 and they can protect everything from the smallest of paring knives to the largest chef knife in your arsenal.
Cons: Because they’re made of plastic rather than metal or wood, plastic knife guards are the least environmentally-friendly option.