how to clean a swiss army knife

People commonly refer to people who are capable of performing a variety of duties adequately as “Swiss army knives.” This is due to the fact that these knives often have roughly 33 distinct blades and tools, providing its users with a wide variety of options to choose from.

However, in order to get the most out of your Swiss Army Knife, you will need to properly maintain it. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s go over how to clean a Swiss Army Knife.

You’ll be able to get the most use out of your Swiss Army Knife by properly maintaining it with the guidance of this detailed guide.

Required Tools to Clean a Swiss Army Knife

Let’s make sure that you have all of the necessary tools and equipment before we begin bringing you through the actual steps of cleaning your Swiss Army Knife.

Don’t be concerned. Except for the oil, which is manufactured and sold by Victorinox, the company that also makes the knives, you presumably already have all of them on hand.

The following is a list of the equipment you will need:

  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Toothpicks
  • Brush
  • Deep dish or bowl
  • Victorinox oil
  • Lint-free rags

Easy Steps on How to Clean Swiss Army Knife

Whether it is composed of stainless steel, which is resistant to the elements, or sharp, low-maintenance carbon steel, your Swiss Army knife can, thankfully, be completely cleaned with relatively little effort.

The trouble is, you have to be thorough in order to get into all of its nooks and crannies, and you have to make sure that you do not leave it soaking in water for an excessive amount of time in order to prevent rust from forming on it.

When it comes to the frequency with which the knife needs to be cleaned, you can clean it once a month if you want to, but it’s best to adhere to a “when-needed” strategy in order to make sure that it lasts as long as it possibly can.

The quality of these knives ensures that they will serve you well for a long time. Therefore, if your father or grandfather had one, you should discover that it’s still going strong to this day if you have it in your possession.

Before we begin with the steps, there is one thing you can do to make things simpler for yourself: use a toothpick or a brush to clean the dust off of your knife. This will be done before we begin with the stages.

If there is anything that can be eliminated without the use of soap and water, please do not hesitate to get rid of it. For instance, muck, mud, sand, and other debris that has not adhered to the body knife can be removed by brushing it off, which will save you a significant amount of time as well as water.

Step 1 – Remove the Knife’s Scale Tools and Electronics

There are types of Swiss Army Knives that contain electrical components. These components might be batteries or USB ports, and they are not at all resistant to water. These components are not water-resistant.

If at any point in time water comes into contact with them, it is recommended that you take them to a maintenance store so that the employees there may check to see if everything is still in working condition.

Before beginning the process of cleaning, it is imperative that any electrical components be taken out of the device and stored in a secure location that is away from any source of water if you own one of these types.

Step 2 – Fill Your Sink Halfway With Warm, Soapy Water

Before we did anything further, don’t forget that we instructed you to try to brush off any crud that could come off the body of the knife as well as the blades. Now is the time to perform a deep cleaning, so get to it!

Warm water with a touch of dish soap and, depending on the size of your sink or bowl, enough water to submerge the knife and all of its components should be added. Next, open the blades so that they are completely exposed, then submerge your knife in the water and let it sit there for a minute or two before proceeding with the next step.

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Also, it goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution when working with the blades.

Step 3 – Brush Away the Dirt and Gunk

After the two minutes have elapsed, get your toothpick or brush ready, and get ready to put in some effort. You should begin cleaning the knife while paying close attention to the hinges and any other connecting points that you come across. It is possible to brush your teeth underwater, which will result in less splashing and a more thorough cleaning.

Step 4 – Open the Front Tools and Clean the Inside of the Knife

Now, we’ll shift our attention to the two primary sections of the Swiss Army Knife, which are known as the front and back tools, respectively.

Utilizing your brush, begin working your way through the front tools, cleaning both above and below each one as you go. Because some of these instruments include serrations, you will need to wipe the gunk out of the recesses that they create. Additionally, it is best to clean each tool on an individual basis.

In addition, once you have cleaned your instruments as thoroughly as you can, you should then use gravity to your advantage by rapidly submerging them in water several times after you have cleaned them.

Step 5 – Clean the Scale Slots and Back Tools

When it comes to the back tools, you will go through the exact same method. Therefore, open them up entirely, but do it at various levels to prevent the liquids from running into one another.

When cleaning around the blades, be sure to get into all of the notches and hinges as well as the spaces in between them. Also, don’t forget to repeat the dipping technique from before in order to get into all of the crevices and nooks that you missed the first time.

Step 6 – Rinse Your Knife

Isopropyl alcohol can be used as a last option before we go on to rinsing your knife in the event that soapy water was unable to remove any particularly tenacious residue. If you soak your Swiss Army Knife in alcohol for less than six hours, there is no risk of it becoming damaged. However, if you soak it for more than six hours, there is a risk.

It is therefore quite fine to let it soak for a few minutes, or possibly even an hour, and then clean your knife; after that, it will be just as effective as when it was brand new.

After you have finished cleaning the front and back of your Swiss army knife, use the brush to go over any areas that you believe require a little bit more attention than the rest of the knife.

The next step is to empty out your sink, then brush your knife once more for an additional level of cleanliness after rinsing it under running water for around a minute to ensure that all traces of soap have been eliminated.

Perform as many cycles as possible of opening and closing the tools while they are submerged in water. In this manner, the hinges will be subjected to a consistent stream of water coming from all directions.

Step 7 – Dry Your Swiss Army Knife

Turn off the water because we won’t need it for the rest of the day. To get rid of as much water as possible, you should start by shaking your knife a few times. Because things have a propensity for accumulating water, the best course of action is not to simply let the knife air dry on its own.

After that, select one of your clean rags and begin the process of physically drying it. It is in your best interest to keep all of the tools open while exercising the utmost caution to prevent cutting yourself and making certain to go through each blade and tool individually.

Make an effort to get as close to the hinges as you can so that you can collect as much water as possible from the area around them. Because items have a tendency to retain moisture regardless of how thoroughly you try to dry them, you will need to position the knife in a bright location by the window or in close proximity to a fan in order for it to dry entirely.

Step 8 – Oil Your Knife

The hinges are the most important part of a Swiss Army Knife, and in order to keep them in good operating order, they need to be oiled on a regular basis. In light of the fact that you have just subjected your knife to a strenuous cleaning process, it is necessary to re-oil it.

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The good news is that not only does Victorinox produce its own swiss army knife lubricating oil, but the oil also comes in a container with a nozzle, which makes the process of re-oiling a lot simpler. Victorinox is a well-known brand in the knife industry.

When using this nozzle, you will begin pouring drips of oil to each hinge; however, you should avoid going too far in any direction. You only need one drop of oil for each hinge; you don’t want your knife to be dripping with oil at any point. The next step is to begin repositioning the blades in order to ensure that everything is smooth. If one of the tools is being overly obstinate, you can try adding another drop of liquid.

It is important to keep in mind that this procedure can result in a significant amount of mess; therefore, you should perform it over some newspapers or even a plate that you do not particularly enjoy using.

In addition, Victorinox oil is not always accessible, which means that you should either store up on it while it is, so that you don’t run out, or switch to a different brand of oil when you do run out.

One last thing, if you are working with a different kind of lubricating oil that does not come with a nozzle, you can prevent things from becoming overly messy by using a Q-Tip.

Step 9 – Clean Up Any Excess Oil

We have just emphasized how messy this procedure can be, and it is possible that you will wind up getting oil on your freshly washed knife. This is not necessarily a negative thing, however, as a small amount of oil can serve as a protective coating for your knife.

Nevertheless, you need to have a firm grip on your knife and be able to control it without it sliding out of your hands. If you happen to use too much oil, take another one of your lint-free towels and wipe the knife until you are able to get a firm grip on it. This is what you should do if you accidentally use too much oil.

Cleaning Scale Tools

It is possible to clean the most majority of the scale instruments on a Swiss Army knife by merely wiping them down with a rag. The one and only deviation from this rule is that the reverse side of the toothpick occasionally turns gray. This is because the toothpick comes into contact with the interior of the knife, as well as any debris that may become lodged in the groove that it sits in.

Toothpaste can be used to clean the toothpick that comes with your knife, allowing it to regain its natural color. Do not use gel toothpaste. Even if debris has become partially entrenched in the toothpick, scrubbing it with a paste that contains abrasives will be able to remove it.

Replacing Missing or Damaged Pieces of Swiss Army Knives

A significant number of people who own Swiss Army knives have misplaced one of their scale tools. The good news is that the most of them are relatively simple to replace. You may buy a kit that comes with various toothpicks, tweezers, ballpoint pens, and even replacement scissor springs if you already own multiple Swiss Army knives. This kit can be found online.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning a Swiss Army Knife

When working with a Swiss Army Knife, there are a few goods that you should avoid using. These should be avoided at all costs. These products are far too harsh for the knife, and as a result, they can substantially limit its life span as well as its functionality. Now, let’s get familiar with these various products.


WD-40 is one of those items that can be used for a variety of purposes. It can be put to use in practically any situation. However, when it comes to Swiss army knives, it is too heavy; it can jam the knife’s hinges and making it much more difficult to use and clean in the future. Moreover, it might cause the knife to break.

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It is not appropriate to use WD-40 on a pocket knife because of the product’s intended use for larger equipment that require more substantial lubrication.


It’s hard for us to fathom why someone would ever think of putting their Swiss Army Knife through the dishwasher to clean it, but we’re here to tell you that you definitely shouldn’t!

The fact that some people can clean their standard knives in the dishwasher may lead them to believe that Swiss army knives can also be cleaned in this manner, but this is most certainly not the case.

In addition to the fact that your Swiss Army Knife is not a kitchen knife, there is no reason to treat it as though it were. Dishwasher soap and salts are extremely harmful to the paint and protective coatings of the knife.


Bleach can clean practically everything, but it leaves a lasting stain on the handle of Swiss Army knives. Again, this is because bleach is incredibly corrosive. This will just result in the paint and protective layers on your knife being stripped away while also amplifying any scratches or bumps it may already have, which will cause it to become brittle over time.


Sandpaper will only leave permanent scratches on both the blades and the cover of your knife if you use it on them. Isopropyl alcohol is your best bet for removing stubborn grime and stains; sandpaper, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs.

Rust Remover

Just like WD-40, rust remover is made for bigger, much chunkier tools. After that, it will become stuck on the blades and hinges of your knife, making it extremely difficult to remove; doing so will involve a great deal of vigorous brushing. This will make the mechanism of your knife difficult to operate.


How Often Should You Clean Your Swiss Army Knife?

Cleaning your Swiss Army Knife whenever it’s necessary is the most effective way to handle the situation at hand. In other words, when it is not functioning as it should, when it has a significant amount of unclean accumulations, or when it is excessively slippery as a result of an excessive amount of oiling.

If you don’t use your knife that frequently, you might need to clean it every three months, every six months, or even every year; the frequency of this task is highly dependent on how often you put it to use.

Can I Use Mineral Oil on My Swiss Army Knife?

Yes, you can. In point of fact, the Victorinox oil is a specially prepared mineral oil of Pharmacopoeia quality. This is because the oil was developed with the particular purpose of maintaining Swiss army knives. Don’t be concerned about that at all!

What Kind of Oil Can I Use on My Swiss Army Knife?

Mineral oils, gun oil, and sewing-machine oil are some examples of the types of oils that can be used, but your choice ultimately depends on what you have access to. Therefore, the task can be accomplished with virtually any lightweight oil.


Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the preceding steps; they will take you a maximum of an hour to complete. Maintaining your high-quality Swiss Army Knife doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you use it on a daily basis, so there is no need to worry about this.

There are more things you can do to keep your Swiss Army Knife in good condition, such as sharpening it, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. At this point, all that is required of you is to ensure that your knife is spotlessly clean and adequately lubricated.

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