Sometimes you want to get rid of your kitchen knives. They may have been sharpened to death, started to rust, or maybe you fell in love with a new steel or brand.
But how do you dispose of kitchen knives without winding up in the ER or putting someone else in the ER?
Remember, all knives – including the dull ones – are sharp. You can’t just toss them because they could poke through a garbage bag and hurt someone. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can get rid of kitchen knives:
- You can throw them away
- You can recycle them
- You can donate them.
What you decide to do will depend on your personal preference, the condition of your knives, or how willing your local recycling center is to take them. Luckily, we’re here to tell you how to do each safely.
Because even old knives and blunt knives can still be sharp enough to cause injury, take care when you handle them. Disposing of kitchen knives involves having to handle the blade, and if your guard is down, you could still get cut.
You should also keep in mind that, when deciding how you want to dispose of your cutlery, the environment. Landfills are flooded daily with new garbage, but even recycling plants tend to struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of material. Basically, this is the mandatory command to “Think of the planet!” when deciding what you want to do.
Don’t worry, we’ll help.
Table of Contents
Method 1: Throw Them Away
Most people’s go-to method is probably just tossing them out with the trash. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as throwing your knife in a trash bag and setting it out for garbage collection.
Step 1: Wrap the Blade with Something
The first thing is to wrap the blades so they’re less likely to harm someone. Most people are inclined to use newspapers, but there are a lot of things you can use for this step. I’ve listed some below to give you some ideas. Just remember to be careful!
- Tape (lots of tape)
- An old magazine or book
- Plastic bags
- A folded-over piece of cardboard
Step 2: Put the Knife in a Container
You want to be extra safe so that some sanitation worker doesn’t manage to hurt him or herself. For that reason, don’t just assume your blade won’t slip out of whatever you wrapped it in. Best to go all-out and lock that sucker in another container on top of wrapping it in a newspaper, tape, or whatever you have.
Cardboard boxes are excellent for this. Just stick your knife in and tape it closed. Unless the cardboard is paper thin, your old knife should be secure.
Plastic bottles are also good for getting rid of knives. You have to cut the bottle open vertically and place your wrapped-up knife inside. Use tape to close the gap.
Step 3: Officially Say Goodbye to Your Old Knife
Now the knife is ready to be tossed into a garbage bag. It won’t be a danger to anyone handling the garbage and will safely make its way to its final destination: the landfill. It’ll eventually rust up and flake away, assuming your knife is stainless steel.
Method 2: Recycle Your Knife
Stainless steel (which most kitchen knives are made out of) is 100% recyclable, so some of the more environmentally-minded chefs among us might decide to recycle their knives. This isn’t too different from deciding to dispose of kitchen knives in the garbage, save for one extra step.
Step 1: Find Out Where You Can Recycle Knives
Unfortunately, you can’t just chuck your old cutlery into the curbside recycling bin. Instead, you’ll have to find out where your closest transfer station or scrap metal recycling facility is.
To do this, you can either utilize your good friend Google, or you can check your town’s or city’s website to see if they have any information. You might also want to call the county and ask them if you can’t find anything online.
Most places will have someplace you can drop your old knives off at, even if it’s a bit tricky to find. Unfortunately, this extra step means that many people will probably just throw their knives away.
Step 2: Prepare Your Knives for Disposal
This part is easy. Just follow the first two steps in Method 1 (above) so your knife won’t accidentally injure someone. The nice thing is that pretty much everything you can wrap your blade in and lock the knife away inside will also be recyclable.
Step 3: Get Your Knife to the Recycling Facility
Now’s the part where you can pat yourself on the back for saving the environment and giving your old knife a new lease on life when it comes back reincarnated as something new. That’s the power of recycling.
Method 3: Donate Your Old Kitchen Knives
Whether you can donate your old knives or not depends a lot on their condition. If they’re still in decent condition, it could be best to donate the knives. In comparison to recycling, donating can even save energy and save someone else some money.
Step 1: Find a Place or Person to Donate To
There are a surprising amount of ways to donate your old knives. Here are some ideas:
- Second-hand stores. Just be sure to call them first and make sure it’s okay or to see if there are special instructions to follow.
- The Salvation Army. Again, contact them first.
- Local Shelters – Call first!
- Soup kitchens
- Friends or relatives
- Sites like LetGo, Gumtree, or Freecycle
Step 2: Clean and Sharpen Your Knives
It’s a nice practice to first clean and sharpen your knives (but especially clean them) before you donate them. This is not only nice for their new owner, but it’s also sanitary. If you don’t know how to sharpen knives or don’t have a whetstone or knife sharpener handy, then at least make sure that they’re clean. If you want to learn, you check out our knife-sharpening resources page.
Step 3: Prepare Your Knives for the Transfer
Follow the first two steps back in Method 1 to make sure your knives are safe and unable to cause harm or injury. Some places might have their own instructions on how they want the knives packaged, so make sure to call ahead and both make sure that the place you’re donating to accepts knives and that you know for sure how they want them prepared.
Most places, however, are likely to be okay with the steps in this post.
Step 4: Give Your Knife a New Home
All that’s left is to drop your knife off and bid it farewell. Hopefully, it will serve someone else well while you enjoy newer knives.
That's All I've Got
I mean, I suppose you could take up a variation of knife/sword swallowing – one in which you don’t remove the blade from your poor throat and just hope it digests. Other than that, I’m out of ideas. If you’ve got any ideas of your own, sound off in the comments.