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How do you clean a Swiss army knife?

Swiss pocket knives are ideal companions on the go, whether you are travelling or camping. From making yourself a delicious sandwich to carving a walking stick, a Swiss pocket knife gets any job done. By the time you get home, your pocket knife will probably not be as clean as it was when you left. Don't worry though, cleaning your Swiss army knife is easier than you might think. In this guide, we explain every step of the cleaning process.

What do you need

We've made a list of things you can use to clean your Swiss army knife. Chances are, you'll already have most of them!

  • Warm water
  • A mild detergent or soap
  • Some cotton swabs and toothpicks
  • Old toothbrush or some other kind of small brush
  • Clean piece of cloth
  • Optional: a hairdryer
  • Mineral oil or a knife-maintenance oil

Before you get started

This How-To guide is written for Swiss pocket knives with plastic or aluminium handle scales in mind. Is your pocket knife made from wood? Make sure you don't get it too wet, as this would negatively affect the handle. Also avoid abrasive cleaners or steel brushes, as these can damage the surface of the blade.

Step 1: open the tools

Let's get started! A Swiss army knife should not be taken apart. Instead, you open all the blades and tools so you can reach every nook and cranny. Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp tools. Tip: save opening the blade and saw for last.

Step 2: rinsing your Swiss army knife in the sink

First of all, you want to give the pocket knife a good rinse. This will get rid of most of the dirt already. Hold all tools under the tap and rinse them well with lukewarm water. If the water is too hot you can hurt yourself and make the knife too hot to hold. Make sure to rinse the inside of the pocket knife too. If there is any dirt stuck in a corner, use a toothpick to pick it out.

Is your Swiss pocket knife not that dirty? A wet cotton swab works wonders when cleaning the inside of the pocket knife.

Step 3: cleaning with soap and a brush

Apply a little soap to the brush and gently scrub all parts of the blade, including the hinge points. A toothbrush is ideal for this job as the bristles are small enough to get into the crevices. The soap efficiently removes grease that you can't easily see with the naked eye.

Step 4: rinse and dry

Rinse the knife again under warm water to remove all soap residue. Dry the knife thoroughly with a clean cloth. Make sure all parts are dry, especially the hinge points, to prevent rust. You can also use a hairdryer to make sure everything is really dry. As most Swiss pocket knives are made of stainless steel, it shouldn't be a problem if a little moisture remains.

Step 5: add oil

Apply a small amount of oil to the hinge points of the Swiss army knife. This helps keep the tools moving smoothly. We recommend using Victorinox multi-tool oil, Ballistol maintenance oil or our very own Skerper Maintenance Oil. Wipe away excess oil with the piece of cloth.

Step 6: close the tools and you're done!

Close all blades and tools and check whether they're moving smoothly. If necessary, you can add another drop of oil to the hinge. Satisfied? Then you're all done! That's how easy it is to clean your Swiss pocket knife.

How do you prevent the need for major maintenance?

If you regularly go through the cleaning process as described above, you'll keep your pocket knife in tip-top condition. If you also make sure to clean the knife after use, you'll be all set.