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Are Magnetic Knife Holders Really the Cleaner Way to Store Your Knives?

Aug 15, 2023

These convenient knife holders seem like the perfect solution for cleaner knife storage—but are they as great as they seem?

Anthony-Masterson | Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Magnetic knife holders have become all the rage as a chic, yet functional way to store your blades. Their ongoing popularity makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider the fact that traditional knife blocks can dull your knives—and even serve as the breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.

In fact, according to the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, the knife block is one of the germiest spots in your kitchen. Plus, "naturally, if you put a wet or dirty knife into a storage block, microbes may grow," Lisa Yakas, a microbiologist and consumer product safety expert, previously told BHG. "Dark, moist environments breed germs. The key is washing and thoroughly drying your knife before you store it."

Few of us are probably washing and drying knives properly enough to prevent all microbe growth in the knife block, hence the rise of the magnetic knife holder as a popular alternative. (As an added bonus, those magnetic strips are also major space-savers in small kitchens.) But while you’ve likely (hopefully?) swapped your knife block for a magnetic knife holder, you still have to wonder: Is the magnetic knife holder that much more hygienic?

Good news: Yes, magnetic knife holders are cleaner than knife blocks. In fact, we’d argue the magnetic knife holder is as clean as the person who owns it. If you’re repeatedly and thoroughly washing and drying your knives after use and routinely washing the holder itself, you shouldn't worry. There's nowhere for the dust and bacteria to hide—and, potentially, grow. Because magnetic knife holders don't have those interior blade slots that are so difficult to clean, they’re already more hygienic than the blocks.

While the magnetic holders don't require nearly as much cleaning as the knife block, you will want to occasionally clean the surface for extra precaution. Here's even more good news: The magnetic option is easier to clean, too.

The proper method for cleaning a magnetic knife block varies based on its material. Manufacturer HM Magnets suggests hot water and a cloth, mild detergent, rubbing alcohol for tough grease stains, or baking soda and water for steel. If you’re dealing with a wood magnetic knife holder—which, to the company's point, attracts dust on its surface—you should use a microfiber cloth and wipe the holder while dry.

For a wood surface, you can also use a product made for dusting (be it homemade or otherwise) and simply dampen your cloth with the liquid before wiping.

Aside from the functional fact that traditional knife blocks aren't nearly as hygienic as their magnetic counterparts, magnetic knife holders are also a more aesthetic choice that can free up counter space. You’ll also have easier access to your favorite blades while cooking.

While the pros clearly outweigh the cons, considering the superior cleanliness of the magnetic knife holder alone, leaving these blades out in the open could serve as a hazard if you’re not careful, or if you have small children in the house. If you don't use the holder properly, you also run the risk of dulling your knives. Though, to be fair, the risk is much less with a magnetic holder than those pesky knife blocks.

"2013 NSF International Household Germ Study." The Public Health and Safety Organization.