How To Clean A Swiss Army Knife

There is a good chance that your Swiss Army knife is one of the camping gear that you use the most frequently.

Therefore, if you do not properly maintain it, it will not be able to carry out the functions that you require it to.

Maintenance of knives at a professional level may be both pricey and challenging to learn.

The catch, though, is as follows:

Anyone who possesses the necessary information can swiftly and affordably maintain their Swiss Army knife.

This tool has the potential to serve many generations if it is properly maintained. Continue reading this article to acquire all the information you require concerning the proper method for cleaning a Swiss Army knife.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning a Swiss Army Knife

Before we get started, it is essential to point out that improperly servicing your knife can easily cause it to get damaged beyond the point of repair.

When it comes to maintaining any type of knife, there are a few things that should be avoided at all costs:


If you haven’t come across the name “WD-40” before, it stands for “water displacing,” and its primary function is that of a rust dissolver as well as a solvent.

It’s possible that this will come as a surprise to you, but WD-40 should not be used on Swiss Army knives.

Because WD-40 is intended to be used on heavy-duty chains, automobile components, and other similar items, it has a consistency that prevents it from penetrating very well.


I must emphasize, do not:

Under no circumstances should you ever clean your Swiss Army knife in the dishwasher.

Despite the fact that this is a fairly common mistake, the detergents that are used in the dishwasher have the potential to render your knife useless. (In addition to that, it is bad for the casing.)


Bleach is too abrasive, and it will leave scratches on both the blade and the hinges of the knife. These scratches will make the knife more prone to jamming.


Sandpaper is another material that should be avoided if you want to keep your knife in good condition, but you probably already knew that.

If there are large chunks of dirt stuck on your knife, you might be tempted to use sandpaper to get rid of them. I’ll be brief – don’t. Sandpaper will leave scratches on your knife, and despite your best efforts, you will not be able to remove them.

Rust Remover

Rust removers, on the other hand, are not designed to be used on smaller tools like Swiss Army knives. Therefore, you should steer clear of these as well.

As I have already explained, WD-40 is not healthy for your knife, and any other rust remover will have a similar effect on it.

It will be more detrimental to your knife than beneficial.

Tools Needed To Clean A Swiss Army Knife

We went over the things you SHOULD NOT do.

But before we get into the specifics of how to clean your knife the right way, let’s go through what you’ll need to get started:

  • Dish soap
  • Brush (an old toothbrush will do)
  • Lubricant – mineral oil works best
  • Q-tips
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Newspapers or rags

How To Clean A Swiss Army Knife – A Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s begin the process of cleaning your knife by going through the various steps one at a time now that you have all of the necessary equipment.

Step 1 – Remove The Knife’s Scale Tools And Electronics

It is imperative that you take the scale tools out of your Swiss Army knife before beginning the cleaning process. This includes the needles, tweezers, and toothpicks that are used.

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If your knife includes any electronic components, such a flashlight or any other USB components, you should take them out before cleaning it, if at all possible. Remove any batteries that may be included with your model.

Electronic components often found in Swiss Army knives are not designed to be waterproof. Therefore, if you wet the knife before removing the electronic components, it will be the end of those components.

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

After you have successfully removed any electronics and scale tools from your knife, fill a sink or a large bowl with warm, soapy water. You can also use the sink.

It should be full enough that you can place the entire knife beneath the water’s surface when it is positioned vertically.

When doing this out, be sure to use your typical liquid dish soap. As I previously stated, the knife may be damaged by bleach and other aggressive cleaning agents.

Step 3 – Brush Away The Dirt And Gunk

Use an old, dry toothbrush to clean any loose fuzz, grime, or crud that has developed on the joins and hinges of your knife before you submerge it in water. This should be done before you submerge your knife.

If your Swiss Army knife has a second layer of tools on the back, make sure you clean those as well.

It is not necessary for this to be done perfectly; just get rid of the debris that is simple to remove.

Step 4 – Open The Front Tools And Clean The Inside Of The Knife

The next step is to open the front layer of tools. Front tools are on the side where the main blade is.

If your model comes with a variety of tools, begin with the can opener and bottle opener and work your way forward. This will make the knife blades the last thing you open, reducing the possibility of cutting yourself.

After you’ve opened all the tools, soak the entire knife in warm soapy water.

Remove any fuzz from the inside of the knife using the brush. Take extra care to remove as much grime and other debris as possible from the tool’s hinges.

Using dish soap can assist you in removing any old oil that may be holding debris. If you have any tools that are stuck badly, you may need to open and close them while submerged. Brushing the hinges of the tools while they are half-open may also help.

After thoroughly cleaning the inside of the knife and its hinges, dunk it in the water a few times and carefully close the tools. Begin by closing the tools with the knife blades and work your way up.

Step 5- Clean The Scale Slots And Back Tools

After you have finished cleaning the tools on the front of your pocket knife, you will need to repeat the process in order to clean the tools on the back.

The trick is as follows:

While you are operating the hinges to open and close the tools, you should clean them. When you are done, make sure to put away the tools.

Use a pipe cleaner to remove any debris that may have become lodged in the slots of the scale tools on your knife, such as a toothpick, needles, and tweezers. This can be done if your knife contains these scale tools. It couldn’t be easier: just scrape the slots with a wet pipe cleaner after inserting it into the slots.

Step 6 – Rinse Your Knife

Have you finished cleaning the interior of your Swiss Army knife, including the hinges?

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Now would be a good time to give it a thorough rinsing.

You can accomplish this task using the faucet on your sink or a bottle of water.

While you are doing this, open and close the tools to help get rid of any remaining soap that may be trapped inside of them.

It is imperative that you thoroughly rinse out the scale tool slots in order to eliminate any soap residue that may have accumulated there.

Step 7 – Dry Your Swiss Army Knife

Utilizing a dry, lint-free cloth, wipe off as much excess water as you can from your knife. It is imperative that each tool, in addition to the interior of the knife, be completely dry.

Even though you won’t be able to get rid of all of the water, removing as much as you can will help prevent water marks on your knife.

After you have extracted the most amount of water possible, dry your knife by placing it in the sunlight or in front of a fan. This will evaporate any water that has collected between the scales of the knife and beneath its scales over the course of its use.

Step 8 – Oil Your Knife

After the blade of your Swiss Army knife has had a chance to dry, it will require lubrication.

It is most likely that any previous oil that was on it has been removed by washing and scrubbing. If the hinges on the knife are not oiled, it will be difficult to open the knife, and it may rust.

I won’t sugarcoat it:

Because oiling your knife can be a messy process, you should first cover the surface you’ll be using to oil your knife with some newspapers or rags.

Since the majority of Swiss Army knives are designed to be used in close proximity to food, I strongly advocate choosing a lubricant that is safe for consumption. Mineral oil is one of the food-safe options available.

When you are preparing your knife for use, lubricate the hinge of each tool with a very small amount of oil. You won’t need too much of it at all.

If your container does not have a nozzle, you can apply the oil with a Q-tip instead.

When using a Q-tip to apply oil, you should first flatten one end with pliers and then cut off the other end. You ought to pound that down as well. Because of this, you are able to utilize both ends to apply oil to hinges that are narrow.

After you have applied the oil, you should then repeatedly open and close each tool. This will ensure that the oil is distributed evenly and will make its way into regions that you were unable to access.

Step 9 – Clean Up Any Excess Oil

To remove any extra oil from the hinges, use a lint-free cloth, preferably one made of microfiber, and wipe in a circular motion. This will leave just enough oil on the knife to protect and lubricate it while preventing it from becoming a magnet for filth.

Even though every Swiss Army knife should be maintained, using an excessive amount of oil will draw in dirt and other particles. What’s more, over time, this will cause the knife to become clogged, making it more difficult to access the tools.

Therefore, take care to thoroughly wipe your knife clean of any extra oil, but remember to keep a small amount on it so that it can continue to be protected.


How Often Should You Clean Your Swiss Army Knife?

The frequency with which you should clean your knife is contingent on the frequency with which you use it.

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If you utilize it on a daily basis, you ought to examine it once a month to determine whether or not it has to be cleaned.

If you use it infrequently, for example a few times a month, then you should inspect it once every six months.

Every so often, give your knife a thorough inspection, and if it seems as like it might need some TLC in the form of a good cleaning, give it the spa treatment it deserves.

Which Liquids Can You Safely Use To Clean Your Swiss Army Knife Other Than Water?

If the grime and stiffness on your pocket knife do not go away, you might need to try using a solvent.

I suggest using isopropyl alcohol, which is more commonly referred to as rubbing alcohol. It is economical, efficient, and risk-free to apply on the skin all at the same time.

You might also put some acetone or ethanol in a bowl of water and then soak your knife in that solution a few times. Another option is to run your knife under hot water.

HEADS UP! Isopropyl alcohol is a chemical that is both flammable and highly volatile. Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the area you are working in and keep it well away from any sources of flame or ignition, including your phone.

What Should You Do If Your Knife Is Dull?

To express the obvious, you should sharpen your knife blade if it is dull from not being used. But I’m sure you were already aware of that.

You are most interested in acquiring the knowledge necessary to sharpen your knife.

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 overly slippery as a result of excessive 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.

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