Home Featured Articles How to Clean Swiss Army Knife: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Clean Swiss Army Knife: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Clean Swiss Army Knife: A Step-by-Step Guide

People often call those who can perform numerous tasks well enough “swiss army knives.” That’s because these knives tend to have around 33 different blades and tools, offering their users a broad range of functions. 

But to fully benefit from your swiss army knife, you need to maintain it well. So, let’s show you the ropes of how to clean swiss army knife. 

This comprehensive guide will help you maintain your swiss army knife for the longest time possible.

Required Tools to Clean a Swiss Army Knife

Before we start walking you through the actual steps of cleaning your swiss army knife, let’s make sure that you have all the tools and equipment needed. 

swiss army knife

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Don’t worry. You probably already have all of them at hand, except for the oil, which is made and sold by Victorinox, the same manufacturer of the knives. 

So, here are the tools you’ll need: 

Victorinox oil

  • 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

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

Some swiss army knife models have electrical components inside them; these parts could be batteries or USB ports, and they’re not at all water-resistant. 

If they’re splashed with water at any given moment, it’s preferable for you to take them to a maintenance store to ensure that everything is still in order.

Now, if you have one of these models, it’s a must to remove the electrical parts and keep them in a safe place away from the water before you start the cleaning process.

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

Remember, we said to try and brush off any gunk that can come off the body of the knife and the blades before we do anything. So now is the time for heavy-duty cleaning! 

Fill up your sink/bowl halfway (or high enough to soak the knife and its parts) with warm water mixed with a little bit of mild dish soap. Next, open the blades, so they’re all sitting out, then dunk your knife in the water and let it soak for a minute or two. 

And, of course, be careful when dealing with the blades.

Step 3 – Brush Away the Dirt and Gunk

After the two minutes have passed, bring your brush or toothpick, and prepare to put in some elbow grease. Start cleaning the knife while making sure that you’re getting the hinges and other connecting points. You can brush underwater for less splashing and better cleaning.

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

Now, we’ll start focusing on the two main compartments of the swiss army knife, the front and back tools.

Take your brush and start going through the front tools, and clean above and below each one. Some of these tools are serrated, so you need to clean the gunk between the indentations. It’s also preferable to clean each tool individually.

Additionally, once you’ve cleaned your tools as much as possible, dunk them in the water a few times in quick succession to use gravity to your advantage.

Step 5 – Clean the Scale Slots and Back Tools

For the back tools, you’ll go through the same routine. So, open them completely, but at different levels, so they’re not dripping on each other. 

Make sure to get into all of the notches and hinges and clean around the blades. Plus, don’t forget to repeat the previous dunking process to get all of the nooks and crannies you couldn’t reach.

Step 6 – Rinse Your Knife

Before we get to rinsing your knife, if you have any stubborn gunk that soapy water didn’t remove, then you can resort to using isopropyl alcohol. This isn’t going to damage your swiss army knife unless you leave it soaked in the alcohol for more than six hours. 

So, it’s safe to let it soak for a few minutes, maybe even an hour, and then clean your knife, and it’ll be as good as new.

Now that you’ve cleaned the front and back parts of your swiss army knife go over it a few more times with the brush on the spots that you think need a little bit of extra care.

Next, drain your sink, and rinse your knife under running water for a minute or so to make sure you’ve removed all traces of soap, then brush it again for extra cleanliness. 

Go through the process of opening and closing the tools underwater as many times as possible. That way, the hinges will be getting a steady flow of water from all sides.

Step 7 – Dry Your Swiss Army Knife

Close the faucet; we’re done with water for the day. Start shaking your knife a few times to get rid of as much water as possible. Things are prone to collecting water, so leaving the knife to dry on its own isn’t the optimal way to go.

Next, grab one of your lint-free rags and start drying it manually. It’s best to keep all tools open while taking the utmost care not to cut yourself and make sure to go over each blade/tool individually. 

Try to get close to the hinges to capture as much water from around them as possible. Seeing as things tend to retain moisture no matter how hard you dry them, you’ll need to place the knife in a sunny spot by the window or next to a fan in order to dry completely.

Step 8 – Oil Your Knife

A swiss army knife is all about the hinges, which need to be frequently oiled to keep working smoothly. So, after the vigorous cleaning that your knife has just been through, it needs to be re-oiled.

Fortunately, not only does Victorinox manufacture its own swiss-army-knife lubricating oil, but the oil also comes in a bottle with a nozzle, which makes the whole re-oiling process a lot easier.

Using this nozzle, you’ll start applying drops of oil at each hinge, and don’t go overboard. You don’t want your knife to be dripping with oil; one drop per hinge is all you need. Then start moving the blades around to make sure that everything is sleek. If one tool is being a bit too stubborn, you can use another drop. 

Remember that this process can be incredibly messy, so you might want to do it over some newspapers or even a plate you don’t particularly love. 

In addition, Victorinox oil isn’t always in stock, so you might want to stock up when it’s available or resort to other oil brands when you run out.

One last thing, if you’re using a different type of lubricating oil and it doesn’t have a nozzle, a Q-Tip will keep things from getting too messy.

Step 9 – Clean Up Any Excess Oil

We’ve just mentioned how messy this process can be, and you can end up getting oil on your newly washed knife, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a little bit of oil can provide a layer of protection for your knife.

Still, you want to be able to hold your knife and handle it without it slipping. So, if you happen to use too much oil, grab another of your lint-free rags and wipe the knife until you can hold it with a firm grip.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning a Swiss Army Knife

There are a few products you need to steer clear of when dealing with your swiss army knife. These products are too harsh on the knife and can significantly reduce its functionality and life span. So, let’s get to know these products.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning a Swiss Army Knife


WD-40 is one of those jack-of-all-trades products. It’s used for almost everything. Yet, when it comes to swiss army knives, it’s too heavy; it can clog the knife’s hinges and make it much harder to use and clean later on. 

WD-40 is essentially designed for bigger tools that need some pretty serious lubrication, not a 4.4-inch pocket knife.



We can’t imagine why someone might consider cleaning their swiss army knife in the dishwasher, but we’re here to reiterate that you shouldn’t! 

Some might think it’s safe because they can put their regular knives in the dishwasher, but that is definitely not the case for swiss army knives. 

Dishwasher soap and salts are incredibly damaging to the paint and protective coatings of the knife, not to mention that your swiss army knife isn’t a kitchen knife, so there’s no reason to treat it as such.


Bleach does clean almost everything, but again, it’s highly corruptive to the cover of swiss army knives. It’ll only strip the paint and protective layers from your knife while magnifying any scratches or bumps it might have suffered, thus making it brittle over time.


The sandpaper will simply end up making irreversible scratches on your knife’s blades and cover. So, if you have any stubborn dirt or stains, go for the isopropyl alcohol and steer clear from sandpaper.

Rust Remover

Just like WD-40, rust remover is designed for bigger, much chunkier tools. Subsequently, it’ll get in the way of your knife’s mechanism because it’ll stick to the hinges and blades of your knife, and getting it out will require a lot of aggressive brushing.


How Often Should You Clean Your Swiss Army Knife?

The best way to go about things is to clean your Swiss Army Knife whenever needed. In other words, when it’s not working properly, has a lot of dirty accumulations, or is too slippery from too much oiling.

So, your knife might need cleaning every three months, six months, or even every year if you don’t whip it out that often; this really depends on your usage. 

Can I Use Mineral Oil on My Swiss Army Knife?

Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, the Victorinox oil, which is designed specifically for swiss army knives, is a specially formulated Pharmacopoeia grade mineral oil. So, no worries there!

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

It really depends on what’s available, but the oils you can use include: mineral oils, gun oil, and sewing-machine oil. So basically, any lightweight oil will get the job done.


Taking care of your high-quality swiss army knife isn’t necessarily hard, even if you use it on a daily basis, so don’t feel overwhelmed by the previous steps; they’ll take you an hour tops. 

There are other things you can do to maintain your swiss army knife, like sharpening it, but that’s a topic for another day. All you need to do for now is make sure your knife is thoroughly clean and well-lubricated.


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