How to Clean a Sharpening Stone

Knives are one of the tools you always need in the kitchen, but having dull knives will not help us in any way with our chores. We use a sharpening stone so we can take care of our tools by keeping them sharp always. In turn, we also have to make sure that we know how to clean a sharpening stone.

Sharpening stones are the most convenient way of keeping the sharpness of your tools. There’s no need for you to go to a professional knife sharpening service if you can do it at home. You just have to make sure that your sharpening stone is always ready to give you sharp knives.

Why You Need Clean Sharpening Stones

When sharpening knives, you are slowly removing steel particles from the blade to get a sharp edge. These steel particles or metal filings stay on the sharpening stone’s surface, and might even clog it unless you clean it.

When these particles accumulate, your sharpening stone will change color and eventually lose its roughness and ability to sharpen blades. As such, you need to clean the stone.

How to Clean a Sharpening Stone

There are different kinds of sharpening stones, which means there are also various ways to clean them. Thus, before you start cleaning those stones, determine its type first, so there’s no chance of damaging it.

There are several ways to clean and maintain your sharpening stones. One is removing metal filing, another is removing dirt and grime build up, and the last is flattening the sharpening stone. Let’s discuss them in detail to make sure you use the correct procedure.

Method #1: Removing Metal Filing

Honing oil is commonly used in machine shops and is available in hardware stores. This oil is used to lubricate oil stones while sharpening knives to lessen the friction.

To remove metal fillings using honing oil, put a small amount of the oil to the surface of your stone. Rub the oil in a circular motion using your finger or a soft-bristled toothbrush.

As you continue to do this, you will see metal filings coming out of the surface, so get a paper towel or a wet cloth and then use that to wipe the surface. Make sure to remove all the metal filings that came out of the surface.

After wiping, wash the stone under running water to remove any leftover metal filings then wipe it with a clean cloth and dry thoroughly.

For water stones, it is recommended to clean it with warm, soapy water. You should also use a soft toothbrush or soft scrubbing pad. The same procedure applies.

Method #2: Removing Dirt and Grime

The aim of this process is to remove every dirt and grime accumulated on the sharpening stone’s surface over a period you have used it. One thing to remember is to do this in a well-ventilated room or space.

Begin by coating the sharpening stone’s entire surface with WD-40 (oil created to seep through harsh surfaces). Make sure to cover every inch of the sharpening stone. After which, gently scrub the stone’s surface using low-grade steel wool until the dirt comes off from the surface.

After scrubbing the sharpening stone’s surface, wipe it with a wet, clean cloth to thoroughly remove all the dirt and grime. Repeat the process if you can still see some dirt or grime.

Do this method every time you see a glossy gray streak on your sharpening stone. That is the sign showing dirt and grime have accumulated on your sharpening stone.

Method #3: Flattening Sharpening Stones

Make sure to do this flattening process after the tenth sharpening process. You can also do it 15 minutes before sharpening anything to avoid dirt build up.

  • Flattening Plate

There are sharpening stones that come with a flattening plate upon purchase. If there’s none, you can buy a flattening plate made of silicon carbide from hardware stores.

Wet the sharpening stone with either oil or water, depending on its kind. Gently rub the sharpening stone back and forth against the flattening plate. Continue doing this process until the sharpening stone’s surface is evenly flat.

  • Sandpaper

You can also use 100-grit sandpaper to flatten the stone. Place the sandpaper on top of a flat surface.

Your sharpening stone’s surface will not flatten if it’s dry. Hence, wet the stone’s surface with oil or water and gently rub against the sandpaper.

Use 400-grit sandpaper to smooth down any scratches on your sharpening stone’s surface. Wet its surface with oil or water before firmly running the sandpaper over it. Scratch marks on the stone’s surface can accumulate dirt and may affect its performance.

Other Sharpening Stone Maintenance Tips

Apart from learning how to clean a sharpening stone, there are other ways to protect and use your sharpening stones longer aside from regular cleaning and flattening, such as:

  • Sharpen knives at a correct angle. If you sharpen anything at a low angle, you remove more metals from the knife. The more metals you remove while sharpening, the faster your sharpening stone deteriorates because of the continued grinding between the blade and the stone.
  • Do not use your sharpening stone for crude metals or unrefined tools. Refining metals or removing a lot of metal filings is not the work of sharpening stones but of grinders. Just like sharpening knives at a wrong angle, using a sharpening stone for crude metals will decrease its longevity.
  • Use both ends of the sharpening stone alternately every time you use it so that it will flatten evenly and will not wear out quickly.


If you want your sharpening stone to last a long time, you should invest some time and effort in taking care of it. It is essential to keep your sharpening stones clean and leveled at all times. In doing this, you will be sure that it will always give you the best performance when it comes to sharpening knives and other tools.

Making it a habit of regularly cleaning your things, in general, will help in prolonging their lifespan. In turn, you will get the most value out of your purchase.

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