From avoiding the dishwasher, to drying immediately, to always making sure you have a clean cutting board, there are plenty of simple daily practices you can adopt to ensure that you're treating your knives with the tender love and care they deserve.

Any home cook knows that one of the most unpleasurable kitchen experiences is having to work with a dull knife. Not only is this extremely dangerous, because you’re way more likely to lose control of a dull blade than a sharp one, it adds extra time and energy to your chopping/mincing/slicing efforts. If you’re trying to bulk up your upper body, then by all means, continue on your path towards swole biceps. However, if you’re like me and you just want to get the blade through your produce and be on your merry way, make sure your blade is good to go at all times.

Committing to a routine of getting your knives sharpened every couple months (depending on how much you use them) is integral to a safe, happy knife-using experience. That being said, there are plenty of ways to maintain and protect the sharpness of your blade on a day-to-day basis. If you’re going to spend the extra time and money to have your knives sharpened professionally, you might as well do all that you can in the meantime to extend the longevity of your crisp blade. Get out the cutting board and abide by these tips for sharper tips (so punny it hurts), so that you can stick to cutting and slicing like the true kitchen samurai that you are.

1. Always Hand Wash Your Knives

This may come as common sense to some, but your dishwasher and your chef’s knife are not friends, and they never will be. Not only is there a good deal of banging that goes on between items throughout the wash cycles, dishwasher detergent is also very tough and abrasive, so it’s likely to wear down your blade. Also, show some mercy to the person unloading your dishwasher; that blade could creep up on them and seriously injure their hand. And then you know what would happen? You would have to be the one that empties the dishwasher from then on. What a travesty!

2. Dry Your Knives Immediately

Three words: knives are metal. That means that you’re going to want to avoid letting these babies air-dry because...rust. Grab a dry dish rag after you’ve hand-washed it and run the towel perpendicular to the blade. Wiping parallel to the blade is a recipe for a sliced hand, so try to steer clear of that.

3. Keep Them Covered In Your Utensil Drawer

Once your knife is squeaky clean and hand-dried, make sure that you return it to the utensil drawer with some sort of protection. A leather sleeve or whatever case/sheath you bought it in will do, so long as the blade has something covering it. There’s a good deal of banging that goes on here (*flashes to memories of aggressively opening the utensil drawer for a spoon to immediately dunk in the ice cream tub*), so leaving a sharp blade out in the open is a surefire way to dull it even quicker--not to mention, knick a too-hasty hand.

4. Use a Cutting Board

People who are too lazy to pull out the cutting board—we know who you are and we need you to stop. Like, now. It’s unsafe, detrimental to the blade, no good for your countertops (or plates or whatever other surface you’re using), and straight-up lazy. Good food is made by good cooks who care about their items. Be this person rather than the stubborn one who’s too good to chop on a safe, cleared surface.

5. Don’t Scrape Them Along Your Cutting Board

This might seem intuitive, but it’s a very common mistake. If you treat your knife like a piece of junk, that’s how your knife will perform. Using the sharp edge to clear and gather chopped food from the cutting board is a tough habit to break for some, but instrumental to maintaining the integrity of your sharp blade. Use the non-sharp edge of the knife, or grab another utensil to do the job, instead.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane