Bone Handled Cutlery- Cleaning and Maintenance

Once bone-handled cutlery begins to lose its patina, restoring it is a simple and efficient household task. Occasional deeper cleaning with soap and water is all that is needed for bone, whether it is used in sculpture or cutlery.

How To Clean Bone Handled Cutlery?

Cutlery with bone handles (ivory, bone, or Zylonite handles) shouldn’t be submerged in water. As a result of the heat, the metal inside the handle expands and cracks. Just clean the metal, dry the handles, and pat them dry.

You can gently clean the handles with toothpaste and a soft cloth if they are really grimy. If the handles are extremely unclean, gently clean them with toothpaste and a soft rag.

What Is The Importance Of Bone Handled Cutlery?

As the name implies, bone handles are constructed from the bones of animals that die naturally. Similar to horn handles, they are slick and weak. Bone handles are renowned for their aesthetic appeal and accessibility.

Bone Handled Cutlery- Cleaning and Maintenance

Because of their well-established reputation as the most common knife handle material in ancient civilizations, some people also choose bone handles.

Bone handles can crack and deform easily. They are not resistant to extreme weather or careless use. They are porous and retain moisture, just like horn handles can, which can jeopardize their structural integrity.

Bone handles require a lot of upkeep; to prevent moisture retention, you must hand wash and immediately dry them.

Pros of Bone Handled Cutlery

Cheap bone handles are widely available.

They are renowned for their beauty in nature.

They can be made in a variety of hues and patterns.

Cons of Bone Handled Cutlery

Handles made of bone are slick.

They are brittle and prone to breaking

They are not strong enough to be used on a daily basis because they are porous and easily deform.

How to Take Care of Bone-Handled Cutlery?

One of the best ways to keep it clean is to frequently use cutlery with a bone handle. The bone is most likely bovine, though occasionally camel and giraffe bones are also used.

Never use a dishwasher to wash the cutlery because the heat can change the structure of the bone. Soak the cutlery in warm, soapy water as soon as possible, avoiding citrus-containing solutions. The bone could become stained by hot water.

Before putting the cutlery back in its storage cabinet, wipe away any leftover food residue, rinse, and quickly dry with a soft cloth.

Consider the color to be a sign of aging if the cutlery’s bone handles have begun to darken. Cleaning bone-handled cutlery requires two steps, especially if the silver portions are present.

Cling film the bone handle before cleaning the silver with a nonabrasive silver cleaning paste. Before tackling the bone handle, dry it off.

How can Bone-Handled Knives be Restored?

A nicely carved pocketknife with a bone handle is a valued possession. Pocket and hunting knives, whether beautifully carved or just exhibiting the delicacy of the bone, require care, especially after a hunting journey.

The handle, which is made of bovine or stag, often becomes parched, and mineral oil is excellent for restoring bone-handled knives.

First, thoroughly clean the knife by wiping away any debris and dust. Then, pour a glass halfway with mineral oil and immerse the handle in it, preferably overnight.

The oil hydrates the bone by penetrating its pores. Remove the knife in the morning and wipe it with a soft cloth until there is no longer an oil sheen.

Finishing with a layer of Renaissance Wax seals in the moisture. The oil may darken the bone handle if it is a very light tint. First, test the procedure on a small section of the handle.

Related questions

Can bone-handled knives be washed in the dishwasher?

Put bone-handled cutlery or anything else that predates the invention of the dishwasher, in the dishwasher. Dishwashing wooden, plastic, bone, or china handles is not recommended unless they are labeled dishwasher-safe. Dishwasher detergent should not be poured directly onto utensils.

How should bone ornaments be cleaned?

Bone jewelry does not require much maintenance. Simply polish your bone goods with a soft cloth to clean them. If it is dirty, you can clean it with a cloth, water, and light soap solution. To ensure a long life, apply a small amount of tea tree or jojoba oil.

How can you differentiate a bone handle from a plastic handle?

The test involves heating the point of a needle until it is red-hot and then pricking what you think to be your ivory carving. If the needle goes in, it’s undoubtedly plastic; if it doesn’t, it’s definitely ivory, or at the very least bone.


Conclusively, bone-handled cutlery should be carefully washed. Water should not be used to soak bone-handled cutlery (handles made of Zylonite, bone, or ivory). The metal inside the handle swells in the heat, resulting in cracking. Simply wash the metal, wipe off the handles, and dry.