A knife is a tool and in most cases, it is an investment. Routine maintenance will allow your knife to perform better, and will possibly serve you an entire lifetime. How often you clean and lubricate your knife depends on how often you use it, and the environment it’s exposed to. High humidity, salt water, harsh, dirty, and dusty environments require more frequent cleaning.
Soap and Water:
Dish soap and water will be your best solution for cleaning a knife.
If at all possible, avoid soaking the knife in any liquid. Using a toothbrush, scrub the entire knife down paying close attention to the hard to get to areas such as the pivot area, inside the handles, and around the locking mechanism.
If you feel that you need a cleaning solution stronger than soap and water, there are numerous household spray cleaners that will work. You can also use chemical solvents like Acetone, nail polish remover, alcohol and paint thinner, but extra care must be taken to avoid getting these solvents on certain handle materials, as discoloring and staining can occur.
Warning: Avoid using these harsher chemical solvents on wood and linen micarta handles. Handles made of wood can be cleaned using furniture polish or oil. Soap and water should be the only liquid used on linen micarta.
It is critical to get your knife completely dry after cleaning before you move on to lubricating it. Compressed air is the easiest way to completely dry your knife. If you do not have access to compressed air, a hair dryer set at the lowest temperature will get the job done.
Now that your knife is completely clean and dry, it is time for lubrication. When it comes to lubrication, you have hundreds of choices, and most of them will work just fine. I personally use Remington Rem Oil. Using a spray lube will allow you to be more direct in applying it to the critical areas with less waste. The rule of thumb is to apply lubrication to all moving parts, especially where you have metal to metal contact. This will include the pivot area and lock mechanism area. After applying lubrication to the pivot area, open and close the blade multiple times to work the lube into the internals of the pivot. For lock back and slip joint knives, lubricate the tang of the blade, where the back spring has constant contact with the tang during opening and closing. After applying lubrication, open and close the blade multiple times to work the lube in.
Develop a mindset that care and maintenance for your knife are no different than the care and maintenance required for your car. Proper knife care and maintenance will make your knife perform better and last longer.