How to Clean a Sharpening Stone: A Comprehensive Guide

Does a sharpening stone need cleaning? The answer to that question is yes – they do need to be cleaned regularly if you want them to work their best. In this blog post, we will discuss several methods for how to clean a sharpening stone to keep the sharpening process, well, sharp.

We will also provide you with a list of supplies you’ll need for each method to clean a sharpening stone. So whether your stones are mildly dirty or covered in dirt and grime, we have a solution for you!

Why Does a Sharpening Stone Need Cleaning?

A sharpening stone needs to be cleaned for two reasons: to remove the metal filings that accumulate on them and to keep them from becoming too clogged with debris to work effectively to keep your knives sharp.

Over time, these metal particles will build up and cause your sharpening stone to become less effective. If you don’t clean your stones regularly, they will eventually become so clogged that they will be difficult to use.

Skip the Steel Wool

You may have heard that you can use steel wool to clean a sharpening stone. However, if you really want to know how to clean a sharpening stone, this is not recommended.

The steel wool can leave particles of metal on your stone, which will eventually build up and cause your stone to become less effective. Even fine steel wool will leave metal flecks embedded in the stone’s surface.

Methods for Cleaning A Sharpening Stone

There are several methods you can use to clean a sharpening stone. The method you choose will depend on how dirty your stones are and what kind of supplies you have on hand.

Below, we’ll outline five different methods for cleaning a sharpening stone:

  • Cleaning Mildly Dirty Sharpening Stones with Soapy Water
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Honing Oil
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with WD-40
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Brake Cleaner
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Boiling Water

You should use the following methods on a synthetic sharpening stone:

  • Cleaning Mildly Dirty Sharpening Stones with Soapy Water
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Honing Oil
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with WD-40

To clean diamond stones, use the following methods:

  • Cleaning Mildly Dirty Diamond Stones with Soapy Water
  • Cleaning Dirty Diamond Stones with Honing Oil

To clean Arkansas stones, use one of the following methods:

  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Brake Cleaner
  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Boiling Water

To clean natural stones, you should only use the following method:

  • Cleaning Dirty Sharpening Stones with Boiling Water
boiling water

Cleaning A Mildly Dirty Sharpening Stone with Soap and Water

If your sharpening stone is only mildly dirty, you can clean it with warm soapy water. Begin by wetting your stone with warm water. Next, add a drop or two of dish soap to the stone and use a soft brush or old toothbrush to scrub away any dirt or debris in a circular motion.

Once you’ve removed all of the dirt, rinse your stone thoroughly with warm running water to thoroughly remove the warm soapy water.

Cleaning A Dirty Sharpening Stone with Honing Oil

If your stones are very dirty, you may need to use honing oil to clean them. Begin by adding a small amount of honing oil to your stones. Then, use a soft brush to scrub away the dirt and debris.

Once you’ve removed all of the dirt, rinse your stones thoroughly with warm water. You’ll probably want to set down a rubber mat underneath your stones on a flat surface during the cleaning process to avoid a mess.

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Cleaning A Dirty Sharpening Stone with WD-40

If your stones are covered in grease or oil, you may need to use WD-40 to clean them. Begin by spraying a small amount of WD-40 onto your stones. Then, use a soft brush to scrub away the dirt and debris.

Once you’ve removed all of the dirt, rinse your stones thoroughly with warm water. This method is good for removing petroleum-based oil, automatic transmission fluid, and whatever other accumulated debris.

If you use this method, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and set your stones on a cloth or paper towel to clean up easily.

Cleaning A Dirty Sharpening Stone with Brake Cleaner

If your stones are very dirty and you don’t have any honing oil or WD-40 on hand, you can use brake cleaner to clean them. Begin by spraying a small amount of brake cleaner onto your stones.

Then, use a soft brush to scrub away the dirt and debris. Once you’ve removed all of the dirt, rinse your stones thoroughly with warm water.

If you use this method, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and place your stones on a cloth or paper towel to avoid having the stinky smell get all over.

Cleaning A Dirty Sharpening Stone with Boiling Water

If your stones are very dirty and you don’t have any honing oil, WD-40, or brake cleaner on hand, or you have used the above methods and they still aren’t clean, you can use boiling water.

Begin by adding enough water to a pot to cover your stones. Then, bring the water to a boil and carefully add your stones.

Allow the stones to sit in the boiling water for a few minutes before using a soft brush to scrub away the dirt and debris. Once you’ve removed all of the dirt, rinse your stones thoroughly with warm water.

Allowing Your Stones to Dry

Once you’ve cleaned your stones, you’ll need to dry them before using them. The best way to dry your stones is to allow them to air dry. If you’re in a hurry, you can use a clean cloth or a paper towel to pat them dry.

Once it’s dry, your sharpening stone is ready to use!

Oiling Your Stones with Honing Oil

Should you oil stones with honing oil? Yes, you should oil your stones after cleaning them. Use a good water-based honing oil or regular honing oil and apply with a damp cloth.

The water-based honing oil will help to keep them in good condition and prevent them from drying out. Honing oil is also a great lubricant for sharpening.

Whether you have a dirty sharpening stone from years of use, or whether you’ve found a sharpening stone at a garage sale, it’s important to clean them before using them.

In Conclusion

By taking the time to clean a sharpening stone, you’ll ensure that it’s ready to use when you need it. And, you’ll extend their lifespan so that you can enjoy using the sharpening stone for years to come!

How often do you clean your sharpening stone? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more tips on how to clean a sharpening stone or how to care for one? Check out our post on how to store a sharpening stone.

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