I have an old Swiss Army Knife on which I can only open one blade; the rest are locked in place. How should I clean this, and is there anything else I should do to refurbish it, like oiling, after I clean it?

This knife has been part of my daily carry for over a decade, and I carry it when I exercise, so I'm sure the innards are packed with some combination of pocket grunge, old candy and sweat.

The one blade I can still pull out works great, but the other blades are nice too.

2 Answers 2


When mine gets too bad I use WD40 to free it up, then clean with soapy water and a brush. Mine also goes through the dishwasher sometimes, with the blades partially open. If it gets gummed up with sugary stuff (your candy, or cutting up fruit) a good soak in hot water will free up the blades.

After cleaning it is a good time to sharpen it. If the hinges are still stiff, a drop of light oil (3 in 1 or bike chain oil) at each hinge should do the trick. Work the oil in by opening and closing all the blades a couple of times before assuming you didn't use enough, then wipe any excess off before putting it in your pocket. You could wrap it in a tissue the first day you carry it in your pocket, in case oil escapes when warmed by body heat - I used to carry one when I wore a suit.

  • 3
    Thanks, that did the trick. I soaked it overnight in hot soapy water, brushed it out this morning while working the blades, rinsed liberally, then blew it dry with compressed air. I finished with a touch of bike chain oil (which you probably knew I'd have around here) at each pivot. Much better now. :)
    – compton
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 12:57

The producer offers a page of care instructions on their website (here) (PDF). The gist is:

  • don't use a dishwasher, that might be too aggressive
  • open and close the blade multiple times in warm water
  • dry thoroughly
  • put some oil on the friction points (where the blades rotate), open and close multiple times

@chris-h's answer is also spot on. I, too, use a dishwasher (the producer discourages it). I saw some oxidation of the aluminium parts between the blades after that.

  • Mine is ancient, I not sure if it's got any aluminium parts.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 5:57
  • Don't know. Mine's not ancient, but 25 years old :-)
    – knitti
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:04
  • 1
    Gosh! I wish I could keep my pocketknives for more than a few years. They seem to wander away, or drop into deep crevices after a year or two. Alas, when someone borrows my knife, I have a compulsion to bird dog them until they return it.
    – wallyk
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:26
  • 3
    bird dog.. had to look that up; bird dog (North American) verb 1. search out or pursue with dogged determination
    – Molomby
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:13
  • 1
    @wallyk That's me for the keyring types (which are all I carry on my person these days). The full-size knives never seemed too easy to lose.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:10

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