How To Clean Box Cutters Safely

Box cutters are very useful cutting tools, which means they are used often and in many conditions. This leads them to get dirty and grimy over time. So how do you clean box cutters? Find out below.

How To Clean Box Cutters

This is what you need to clean box cutters:

  • Dish soap
  • Hot or warm water
  • Solvent (WD40 or mineral spirits)
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Wire brush, toothbrush, toothpicks, cotton swabs.
  • Dry rag or cloth

Cleaning box cutters is not difficult and only takes a few minutes. Here are the steps:

  1. Put on rubber dish gloves before cleaning the box cutters.
  2. Fill up the sink or a small bucket with hot, soapy water. You can use dish soap.
  3. Clean the box cutters thoroughly. Remove any stains, grime, and dirt with a sponge or rag.
  4. Disinfect them with a sanitizing solution (see list below).
  5. Rinse the box cutters in clean, warm water.
  6. Wipe down the box cutters with a dry cloth and remove any remaining moisture.

Make sure to clean the box cutters with the blade pointed away from you as best you can. Do not wipe the blade too quickly as it could cause it to slip and cutting your finger.

You can use a dishwasher to clean a box cutter also, but it may dull the blade due to the washer’s abrasion.

Always wear rubber gloves when handling cleaning supplies. Also, wipe down the box cutters with a cloth to dry them. Do not heat the box cutters in a fire to remove moisture. This can weaken the steel and cause it to break.

Box Cutter Cardboard Box

Disinfecting Box Cutters

Box cutters can get bacteria (microbes, viruses, spores) and grime stuck to them, just like other knives. However, unlike kitchen knives, you probably will not be cutting raw meat, poultry or seafood with a box cutter. Nevertheless, disinfecting them helps keep you safe in case you are cut.

Its important to clean and disinfect box cutters, atleast occassionally, but preferably regularly.

To disinfect box cutters, you can use:

  • Hot soapy water (dish soap)
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Isopropyl Alcholol

Follow the same basic steps as cleaning box cutters above. Dip the box cutters in hot soapy water, the bleach, or the alchohol. It may work simply to wipe the blade with a rag dipped in either of these chemicals.

Recommended Isopropyl Alchohol

Solimo 70% Isopropyl Alcohol First Aid Antiseptic for Treatment of Minor Cuts and Scrapes, 32 Fl Oz

Vi-Jon Isopropyl 70% Alcohol, 32 oz

Safetec Isopropyl Alcohol 70% Antiseptic Spray, 2 oz

Box Cutters And Alchohol

70% isopropyl alcohol works great to remove difficult grime that the dishsoap fails to remove. Dip paper towel, a cotton swab, or small rag in alchohol and wipe down the entire box cutter. Remove the blade and apply this separately if needed. Wipe down the box cutters with a dry cloth and let air dry.

Alcholol will not hurt the box cutters in any way and can help remove packing tape residue or weak glues.

Box Cutters And Bleach

You can use regular household bleach to decontaminate box cutters.

Just by soaking box cutters or blades for 5 minutes in 40% bleach solution will kill all the bacteria. Mix teaspoon of bleach with 1 quart of water in a food storage container. This should be large enough to totally submerge the box cutters.

You can scrub down the box cutters with a scouring pad, sponge, or wire brush. When finished rinse down the box cutters and dry using a cloth. Let air dry on a paper towel.

Box Cutters And Soap

Box cutters can be cleaned using common dishsoap and warm water. This may not be enough, however, as difficult grime may be stuck on the blade. To remove this, you will need degreaser solvents, alchohol, or bleach.

It is important to clean box cutters because a dirty one is more likely to corrode.

Box Cutters And Rags

Use a rag to wipe away the dirt, dust, and cleaning solution from box cutters, and to dry them. You can also use thick paper towels to do this as well.

Box Cutters And Dust

If your box cutters sit in the garage or any dusty area for long enough, they will acquire dust deposits. Dust can stick to the handle, blade, or any crevices. The dust can also mix to any glue or moisture and become hard and affect the function of the box cutters.

Packages and cardboard boxes may have been sitting in a dusty warehouse before being shipped. There is likely some still on the box when you use the box cutters.

Box Cutters And Dirt

When carrying box cutters with you on jobsites, they can get dirty like other tools. Box cutters with dirt or grime stuck to it may need wiping down or scrubbing with a wire brush prior to cleaning it.

Do not leave dirt on box cutters as the moisture within it can cause them to rust.

Box Cutters And Grime

Grime can be present just about anywhere their is water, dust, oils or greases. Box cutters can easily be covered in small amounts of grime.

To remove grime, simply wiping box cutters or washing it in dishsoap may not be enough. This will require a oil-based solvent, such as goo gone, wd-40, or turpentine.

However, once the grime is removed, be sure to add a drop of oil to the blade because these solvents will remove any beneficial oils you want to keep.

Box Cutters And Glue

Box cutters can get gluey. Adhesive substances can be found on shipping boxes, crates, and packages of all sorts. To remove glue from box cutters, use Acetone, b-12 carbuerator cleaner, or nail polish remover.

How Do You Take Apart A Box Cutter?

A box cutter may need to be taken apart to fully clean it. Metal box cutters can easily be taken apart. Just unscrew the side screw and pull the two case pieces apart.

Components Of Box Cutters

Metal box cutters have only four simple components:

  • The handle
  • Side screw
  • Blade
  • Blade housing

Use a phillips head screwdriver to remove the single screw from the side of the handle. The side peice will simply pop off, exposing the blade inside.

Do Box Cutters Rust?

Yes, box cutters can rust. Metal box cutters made of stainless steel are susceptible to rusting. This applies to both the handle and the blade. Stainless steel and carbon steel will rust when they come in contact with water and oxygen. Salty water will speed up this corrosion process. When cleaning box cutters, it is important to wipe them down and dry them quickly afterwards to prevent rusting.

Rust is dangerous if it gets into the skin through a cut or open wound. A box cutter can easily cut the skin and transfer the rust into your body. This will require immediate medical attention.

Adding a drop or two of oil to the box cutters after cleaning will help prevent rust from forming.

Types of oil you can use include:

  • Knife Oil
  • Mineral oil
  • General purpose synthetic oil

You should oil up your box cutters (and other knives) after each cleaning and once a month, if possible.

Removing Rust From Box Cutters

Metal box cutters can easily become rusty. The rust needs to be removed.

Removing rust from a box cutter is possible and not difficult to do.

  • What you can do to remove rust from box cutters:
  • Soak in vinegar water overnight, scrub with a steel brush.
  • Water and baking soda mixture, let sit and wipe wiwth steel brush
  • Soak in lemon juice and salt for a few hours, then scrub with a steel brush.
  • Soak in citric acid and hot water mixture, a scrub with a steel brush.

After cleaning off all the rust, wash the box cutters in dish soap and wipe dry with a dry cloth.

Rust Proof Box Cutters – Do They Exist?

Yes, rust proof box cutters exist. These are box cutters with plastic or ceramic handles, and ceramic only blades. Ceramic blades do not rust.

How Do You Maintain Box Cutters?

Like other tools, box cutters need maintainence. This includes:

  • Cleaning them regularly
  • Disinfecting them
  • Removing rust as it appears
  • Proper storage
  • Changing the blades as necessary

Where To Store Box Cutters

Box cutters are best stored in dry places, away from moisture. This will help prevent them from rusting. They are also best stored in safe places away from small children.

Best places to store box cutters include:

  • Tool boxes
  • Tool belts and bags
  • Cabinets
  • Drawers
  • Shelves (high up)
  • Vehicle storage compartments

Before storing box cutters, make sure they are not wet. This can lead to rust forming.

Box Cutter Holder

Carrying box cutters in your hand, or in your pocket can pose some problems This is why getting a box cutter/utility knife holder or pouch can help when to carry them around. These are fairly inexpensive and easy to find online.

We hope this post has helped you to know how to clean your box cutters next time safely. Clean box cutters are critical to have to keep users safe from bacteria, rust, grime, or anything else stuck to them.

Just make sure to keep safety in mind while you clean them as the blade is strong and sharp and can easily cut the skin.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium