Ask the Gear Guy

How to clean a dirty pocketknife

Q. Dear Gear Guy, I got a pocketknife from my grandfather, and it’s all dirty and rusty. Can you tell me how to clean it, please?
– Rusty Jared, Philadelphia, Pa.

A. Rusty, I love it when Scouts decide to repair old camping gear rather than just throwing it out. I checked in with my friends over at Gerber Legendary Blades to find out exactly how to best fix your knife.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Soft sponge (or a toothbrush)
  • Soft cloths
  • Nylon pad
  • Household lubricant (WD-40)
  • Household oil (3-in-1)

knife2CLEAN IT: While wearing your rubber gloves, wet a soft cloth with warm water and wipe down both sides of the blade.

knife3Next, scrub the blade with a soapy sponge. To clean serrated blades, use an old toothbrush rather than a sponge. If there’s junk stuck on the blade, pour dish detergent right on the spot and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing again. Rinse the blade with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.

knife4REMOVE THE RUST: Spray the blade with a lubricant like WD-40. Be sure to spray all the rusty areas and then let it sit for one minute.

knife5Now scrub the blade with a nylon pad. Rinse the blade. Repeat with the WD-40 for any stubborn rust spots, letting the lubricant soak in for about five minutes before scrubbing.

knife6Once you’ve removed the rust, wash your blade with warm, soapy water. Finally, dry it off and add a few drops of household oil (3-in-1) to the blade.

Comments about “How to clean a dirty pocketknife”

  1. Silver_Sharpie says:

    I just got a pocketknife from a friend that’s all rusty. This really helped! Thanks!

  2. KTM says:

    I recently got given my grandfathers old pocketknife and it was coved with rust. Wd-40 and some time does the trick. Just make sure you dont have any rubber on your pocketknife beucase Wd-40 corrode it.

  3. Maddie says:

    Does anyone know how to clean the inside of the knife? (where the knife folds into the handle) Would q-tips work? I have a swiss one that isn’t rusty but could use cleaning and a slightly rusty one, How to I get the inside clean? Would I just follow this procedure?

  4. 2nd class says:

    Will try on same kind of knife from yard sale

  5. girl'slifetoo says:

    Works pretty well. Thanks.

  6. Rh says:

    This seems pretty reliable when my knife gets rusty I will do the same

  7. Tommy says:

    Thnx I just bought a new Winchester bone handle pocket knife on sale for 12 $ and I got a lot of finger prints on it from opening and closing it thx

  8. chicken dude boy says:

    this stuff works really well

  9. MonkeyMan says:

    I might try this it seems pretty good

  10. banana muffin man squirrel says:

    it worked!

  11. isk3 says:

    used on my old timer, worked great. I will use this in the future!

  12. Knife owner says:

    I actually own the same type of knife that is shown in the pictures. Does anyone have any idea how much that knife is worth?

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      It looks like an older knife. But because the knife in the picture is really beat up I would estimate it to be worth around $35-$40.

  13. Mariopen says:

    It worked really well!! :)

  14. Curious says:

    What if it’s rusted shut? Ive got one that is. Would there be a way to loosen the blades enough to get them out?

  15. riptide says:

    I use wd-40 to keep my knife shiny

  16. ADW says:

    I use Eagle One Nevr Dull on my knife. it is awesome!

  17. ts says:

    Rubbing alcohol works best

  18. Pulsator125 says:

    My grandfather gave me a pocketknife too. Can I get the scratches out of it?

  19. lebronjames145 says:

    This is pretty useful for camping.

  20. Dale says:

    There’s a difference between rust and corrosion. If corroded too badly, the knife may be beyond repair. If it just has surface rust, extra-fine wet-n-dry sandpaper will work. CLR does a good job of removing rust.

  21. A-man says:

    Cool! Ill definetly ue this when mine gets rusty

  22. billy bob joe says:

    just use soap, water, and a rag

  23. super man vs his home :P says:

    wow this is cool

  24. LL blu jay says:

    Nice info to know

  25. Likeaboss says:

    Wow hope this works

  26. big z says:

    You can get clr and dip the knife in it

  27. mav says:

    Use penetrating oil to loosen the blades and then you can use a very fine steel wool or 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper to get the rust off the blades. Keep the blade lightly oiled to keep from rusting in the future.

  28. Mr. Hello says:

    I wonder if it works

  29. theguy says:

    wow it worked for me

  30. jamwam says:

    you can use naval jelly to clean the blade but it is a very powerful chemical so you have to be careful when using it but its very effective

  31. max says:

    use baking soda on a scouring pad then oil.

  32. Awesome Spy!!! says:

    thats alot of things used just to clean a knife! :)

  33. ctm says:

    Thanks for the advice!!!

  34. Hi says:

    It didn’t work

  35. godlover11202 says:

    I have a knife… When it gets rusty:Ill use this!

  36. wr says:

    i have a macheta to use it on!

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