They say it’s more dangerous to use a dull knife than a sharp knife. That’s because if you struggle with a dull blade, you’re more likely to slip — and no one wants that.
To prevent your knives from quickly losing their edge, never put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand and dry immediately. Store them in a knifeblock or in a dedicated drawer, and cover the blades with guards.
Once you notice your blades aren’t slicing like they used to, you have a few options for honing. (Please note that honing and sharpening are different — honing is simply straightening out the sharp edge of the blade, and should be done regularly. Sharpening involves grinding the metal, and for that you’ll need to send your knives out to a metal shop every few years.)
If you have a two-sided whetstone, first soak the stone in water and then place coarse-side up on a damp paper towel for stability. Hold the knife at a 15-degree angle with the heel of the knife at the back of the stone, and slide in a sweeping motion until the tip of the knife reaches the other end of the stone. Repeat 4-5 times, then switch sides of the knife, turn the stone over, and repeat the process.
You can also use a honing steel by holding it perpendicular to the counter with the heel of the blade at the top of the steel. Slide the blade down until the tip of the knife reaches the bottom of the steel. Repeat 4-5 times, then switch sides.
If you don’t have these tools, you can use the rough ceramic edge of the bottom of a coffee mug. Slide the knife blade from heel to tip along the edge a few times, then switch sides.