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Knives are an everyday household item that can last years in your kitchen. From paring knives to chef’s knives, you may have yet to face the matter of replacing them. So, when the time comes and they rust or break, can you toss them in the trash can with the rest of the garbage? We’ve researched how to properly dispose of knives, as well as alternatives to tossing them out.
You can put kitchen knives in the trash when you're done with them, but you have to keep safety in mind. It's best to properly wrap the blade so as not to cause injury to you or someone else who may end up handling your trash in the dumpster.
Don’t rush to throw away your kitchen knives just yet. Keep reading to see other options for your old knives.
How Can Knives Be Disposed of In the Trash Safely?
It is possible to throw your knives out with the other garbage, but for the safety of everyone involved, it is critical that the blades are wrapped and secured first. There are a few ways that you can do this.
- Wrapping them in newspaper or trash bags and securing it with tape.
- Find a piece of cardboard that is twice the width of the knife, fold it in half, and place the blade side of the knife facing the folded edge of the cardboard.
- Place the covered knife inside of a box or container and tape it closed. Then this box can be placed in the bin or dumpster.
What Can Go Wrong With a Knife (And Can You Fix It?)
Knives dull, their handles break, and they even rust, which can leave you wanting to give up on them and purchase a new set. Before you go and spend a chunk of money on brand new knives, consider if these issues are fixable.
Dull knives are hard to avoid since simply using them can damage the blade. If you look at the construction of a knife, the sharpest part of the edge is also the thinnest, making it the weakest part as well. Repeated use, or even putting it in the dishwasher, will eventually take its toll on its sharp edge.
Pull-Through Knife Sharpener
An easy — and affordable — solution to a dull knife is to use a pull-through sharpener. By running your knife through this sharpener, it removes metal to reform the sharp “v” edge of the blade.
Electric Knife Sharpener
Serrated kitchen knives won’t dull as quickly, and don’t need to be sharpened often. If you do plan to sharpen these knives, it’s time-consuming and isn’t as simple as a straight-edged knife. For this reason, you could consider investing in an electric sharpener. It’s a more expensive option, but it will allow you to sharpen different blades, easily, with one tool.
Glue a Broken Handle
If the handle of a knife breaks, they can often be fixed as easily as applying super glue. This will work if the handle splits down the middle where it is hugging the hidden end of the metal. Adding glue to the side or sides that separated from the metal, placing them in their original positions, and letting the glue cure for at least an hour will have your knives in working order again.
However, if you find that the blade has broken off from the handle entirely, it’s no longer a simple fix. You should feel no guilt in tossing it out.
It can be an unpleasant sight to see rust on knives when you are preparing or eating food. There is a simple fix for this problem, as well. Using vinegar, soak your rusted knives overnight. The next day, scrub the rust away with steel wool. With a little elbow grease, this will revamp unsightly knives into looking new again.
Can You Donate Knives to Goodwill?
Knives are a donatable item to Goodwill. If you do plan to donate knives and they aren’t part of a knife block set or have sheaths that would cover the blades, take precautions to ensure no one gets hurt handling your donation.
You can wrap the knives in bubble wrap or newspaper and then place them in a box labeled “knives.” If someone is transporting these items for you, make sure they are aware of the knives and where they are in your donations.
Can You Recycle or Upcycle Knives?
Recycling your old knives is an excellent alternative to throwing them away when they aren’t in good enough condition to donate. However, how to accomplish this will vary depending on your location.
Some cities offer public recycling that will include a location to drop off scrap metals. However, if your city doesn’t have an available recycling area, you can check to see if you have a local metal recycling company. These companies melt down old metals for reuse. It’s always best to give them a call and make sure they accept knives before dropping them off. Typically, this won’t require taking the same precautionary steps as donating, as the utensils can be tossed into a larger pile of metals to be melted.
Upcycling kitchen knives can be more challenging than other cutlery, like spoons or forks. Because of their need to be handled carefully, converting the blade of a knife into something useful would most likely require melting and reusing the metal.
If you don’t mind keeping the knives for their original purpose, you can get creative with their handles to give them a more modern or fun look. By painting the handle a bright color or replacing a plain plastic handle with a rustic wooden one, your knives can become more of a statement than simply cutlery.
When Should You Throw Away Knives?
Knives are a staple in the kitchen, and they must remain sharp and unbroken to use them safely. High-quality knives that are adequately cared for can last a lifetime. However, those are costly, and most households often settle for affordable sets that can be damaged more quickly than their expensive counterparts.
So, when you find that your knives are unable to be fixed or revamped into something usable, it’s a great time to toss them out. Just make sure you’re safe when disposing of them.
There are steps you can take to throw out your old kitchen knives safely. But other options, like recycling or donating, provide useful alternatives that can give your knives new life!