Cleaning Wood Knife Blocks
Posted 05 February 2010 - 11:28 PM
So is there a good way to clean wood knife blocks? More and less damaging ways? How do you do it? Or do you not?
Posted 06 February 2010 - 12:33 AM
That said....when I had a traditional, counter-standing block, I still didn't think to clean out the grooves. Again, the knives were clean when I stored them, the bolster/handle of the knife mostly blocked the opening of the groove, and I used to store the knives edge side up, so that the spine of the blade was the only part of the knife actually touching the block.
The flat, sloping surface of the top of the block *would* get grungy periodically, and I'd wipe it down with something hot and grease-cutting, but I never, ever thought to clean the inside.
Of all the things to clean in a kitchen, that just was never on my radar, and actually, probably never will be.
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Posted 06 February 2010 - 08:22 AM
Posted 06 February 2010 - 09:00 AM
That said, they are quite common in home use and you surely don't hear about people getting sick from their knife blocks! I think I'd pour some boiling water through it to clean, followed by a 100-200 ppm solution of bleach (lots less strong than you think), air-dry thoroughly then rub down with mineral oil or other non-toxic oil (don't use vegetable or animal oils which will get sticky and/or rancid over time) to restore and protect the wood finish/appearance.
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Posted 07 February 2010 - 04:55 PM
When grunge appears, I've taken small wads of cloth soaked in sanitizer and shoved them all the way through with a round-tippe knife or a hack saw blade. On most blocks, the slot goes all the way through to the botom.
Posted 07 February 2010 - 09:09 PM
We have low cabinets that go all the way around the kitchen and not a lot of conveniently positioned wall space near the cutting board, so I've got three blocks, two of which are stacked and glued together, and a 12" mag strip for knives too big for the blocks. As much as I like the look and feel of wood, I'd like to consolidate the three blocks into one larger one at some point, and something sanitizable would be of interest.
Posted 07 February 2010 - 10:12 PM
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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:06 AM
I agree with Hennes. I've "cleaned" my wooden block a few times by running really hot water through the slots at a decent enough high pressure, and also scrubbed the outside of the block with a scrubbie and dish soap, followed by a hand and then air drying. No ill effects to the block, and I've had my current most-used block for a number of years.
Repeatedly letting wood absorb a lot of water and then dry out will have a tendency to cause the wood to crack, yes. That said, I think you probably do this infrequently enough that it doesn't really matter. You will want to make sure to dry the interior thoroughly to prevent mold from growing in the slots, however. From a food safety standpoint wood is a mixed bag: it's difficult to completely sanitize yourself because it is so porous, but it tends to kill bacteria on its own by absorbing the water from their cells (see the fairly extensive research on wood cutting boards for more details).
I mean, how dirty can this thing possibly get in the home kitchen?
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Posted 08 February 2010 - 12:50 PM
Posted 08 February 2010 - 01:37 PM
Posted 08 February 2010 - 04:34 PM
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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:22 PM
But look how often you wash a wooden cutting board, and in all these years I've only had one split along a glue line (was made of several strips of wood) a tiny bit. At that rate, I'd guess that your knife block won't crack until your great great grand children have it in use
I did occasionally put some cutting board oil on it.
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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:35 AM
Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:55 AM
I would look for that on any future knife block purchase.
Posted 09 February 2010 - 10:57 PM
I wonder if pressure steaming would be an effective way of sterilizing them. Put an inch of water at the bottom of a pressure cooker, add a cake rack and put the knife block on it so it's not touching the water. Bring it up to pressure for half and hour and then let it cool down naturally. The temps should kill any living thing. Would that harm the block?
Wood is a living thing, it absorbs moisture when the enviroment is humid, and shrinks when the enviroment is dry. The age of the wood plays no role in this, I've worked with 1o0 yr old oak timbers reclaimed from a frmhouse and they still move in accordance with the seasons and humidity.
If you "steam" the block, the wood will expand and will stress out the glue lines, fatigueing usually occurs beside the glue line, not on it.
All that being said, check out my favorite hardware store: Lee Valley (www.leevalley.com) There you will find magnetic bars faced with wood, and knife blocks filled with thousands of plastic rods about the size of very fine spaghetti--you slide the knife inbeteen the plastic rods, the knives never touch and the whole assembly of plastic rods comes out in one piece and can be washed. But no one ever said you couldn't do the same with a cannister filled with bamboo skewers......