How to Clean a Sharpening Stone

how to clean a sharpening stone

Ensuring that your knife is sufficiently sharp is one of the most important parts of owning a good knife. If your knife isn't sharp, it isn't going to cut well, and more importantly, it's dangerous. Using a sharpening stone is essential to keep your knife sharp.

It's also important to keep your sharpening stone clean. This gives you the sharpest blade possible. If you run into a dirty sharpening stone at a garage sale, or realize your old sharpening stone isn't performing like it used to, cleaning it may be just what it needs.  But how do you clean a sharpening stone?

Cleaning your sharpening stone is easy and well worth the time it takes. All you need is a few materials, a little bit of time, and some elbow grease. To begin with, grab a can of WD-40, some steel wool, and paper towels or a clean rag.

You can use different types of oil or water in place of WD-40, though WD-40 is the recommended solvent for cleaning sharpening stones. Once you have these materials together, it's time to get to work.


What you will need:

  • Dirty Sharpening Stone
  • Can of WD-40
  • Steel Wool
  • Cleaning Rag

To begin with, give your sharpening stone a good covering of WD-40. Make sure you've coated every possible inch, using multiple passes if necessary. Once your stone is covered in WD-40, run the steel wool over the stone in short, focused strokes.

Your goal is to remove the buildup of dirt, metal shavings, and whatever else has accumulated over the years of use. As you run the steel wool over the stone, you can watch the grit rise up through the pores in the stone. Either horizontal strokes or circular motions work best while cleaning the stone.

Using steel wool instead of regular cloth is recommended for stones that are extra dirty and grimy. After a good scrubbing, use the paper towels or rag to wipe your sharpening stone clean. Most of the grit will be gone after one pass.

Repeating these steps at least once more is recommended, especially for dirtier stones. Extremely old sharpening stones may take even more passes. While it may be time consuming, once you have your stone fully cleaned, only regular, quick cleanings will be necessary.

Keep in mind that the steel wool you're using may need to be replaced, as the purpose of the sharpening stone is to remove metal from whatever material is pressed against it. The steel wool usually isn't necessary for a normal cleaning of your sharpening stone. But if you're looking to clean up an extra dirty sharpening stone, there really isn't any better choice.

After you have cleaned off the excess WD-40 and grit from your sharpening stone, you have two choices. You can decide to leave the stone as is. Another choice is to put your sharpening stone under running water, removing any last traces of WD-40 and build up. After that, be sure to pat it dry with paper towels or a clean cloth.

No matter which method you decide on to finish cleaning your stone, you're going to be left with a sharpening stone that is as good as new.  So now that you know how to clean a sharpening stone, don't pass up that crusty old dirty sharpening stone at your next garage or estate sale.  You may just have found a gem that will last you a lifetime.