How to Clean a Whetstone in 4 Simple Ways

Rate this post

A sharpening stone plays a crucial role in keeping your knives, chisels, and other sharpening tools in great shape. One way to do that is to clean your sharpening stones after using it. Cleaning your whetstones will ensure the longevity of your sharpening tools as well as the efficiency of your knives.

After all, if your knife is not sharp then you won’t be able to maximize its use. Therefore, a dull knife is not only useless but dangerous too. Want to know how to clean a whetstone? Read on and we’ll discuss the basic steps on how to clean your honing tools.

What you’ll Need;

Cleaning a whetstone is simple and easy as long as you follow the steps below. You’ll just need a couple of materials to get you started.

  • Honing oil
  • WD-40
  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • Steel wool
  • Toothbrush
  • Dish soap

How to Clean a Whetstone

How to Clean a Whetstone

If you notice any gray streaks on the surface of your sharpening stone, it means that there is an accumulation of debris. The presence of metal flecks will only reduce the efficiency of your stone. Hence, it is important to eliminate it.

Remember that the material you use to clean your sharpening stone will depend on the type of stone as well as the sharpening tool. Don’t forget to place a cloth or paper towel under your sharpening stone before you start the cleaning process so that it can catch the debris.

Step 1: Flush out the mineral filings

  • Apply a small amount of honing oil over the surface of the whetstone and make sure you cover all areas. It is commonly used to get rid of excess metal from the stone. Use a toothbrush to spread it in circular or horizontal motions. Continue to scrub the surface until the metal particles start to appear. 
  • Use a clean damp cloth or paper towel to wipe away the metal debris. Wipe off the surface until you remove all particles from the stone. The goal for this first step is to eliminate the dirt and metal shavings that have accumulated over time.

You can opt to use steel wool instead of a cloth to clean dirty stones. We recommend you repeat the steps as necessary.

Step 2: Use WD-40

  • After flushing out the particles, it’s time to remove the dirt using WD-40. This oil helps penetrate any tough surface and works great on whetstones. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when before applying WD-40. 
  • Use steel wool to wipe off the accumulated debris. A 0000-grade steel wool is enough to help remove the grime on the stone. You can leave it as is or clean it off with running water to remove any traces of WD-40. Afterward, pat the stone dry.

This step works best on stones that are older and maybe harder to clean.

Step 3: Clean with soapy water

In case you are using a water-based honing oil, rinse off the debris with warm soapy water. Use a toothbrush to scrub the surface of the stone.

Step 4: Flatten a Sharpening Stone

Flatten a Sharpening Stone

Is it necessary to flatten your sharpening stone? After prolonged and frequent use your sharpening stone may start to become hollow around the middle part. This may develop from rounding the edges of the tool during the sharpening process.

However, you can avoid this by flattening the stone after every 10 uses or more. Flatten the stone for at least 15 seconds before using it.


  • Keep your whetstone lubricated: Make sure you apply oil or water to moisten the sharpening stone before starting the process. Begin the step by rubbing the whetstone over a flattening plate which will even out the surface. This will remove the metal particles. Remember, if the stone’s surface is dry, you will not be able to flatten it properly.
  • Rub the stone over the flattening plate: Move the plate back and forward gently until the stone’s surface becomes even. There should be no metal filings visible on the surface. In case you are using a synthetic stone, use oil to moisturize it since its surface is often coarser compared to natural stones.Some whetstones come with its own plate. However, if it doesn’t have one, you can buy a silicon-carbide plate.If you don’t have a flattening plate available, use a self-adhesive 100-grit wet-dry sandpaper and attach it to a small and thick piece of glass. Moisten your stone with water or oil and apply it over the sandpaper.
  • Sand the whetstone: Continue to sand the whetstone until it becomes flat with no signs of metal shavings. You can use a rubber mat underneath the stone while you’re sanding it. If you want to eliminate scratches, you may use a 400-grit sandpaper. This will help remove large scratches and prevent the build-up of metal filings as well as dirt.

Things to Remember

When it comes to maintaining your sharpening stones, some people tend to forget that not all types of stones are the same. This means that the way you sharpen and clean your diamond stones may not be the same for your oil sones. Some stones are more porous than others which means that it can absorb more fluids than others.Hence, it’s important to understand the different types of sharpening stones before you sharpen and clean it. This can help you avoid errors when taking care of your sharpening stones.

Final Thoughts

Sharpening your tools at home is a cost-effective way to keep your honing tools in top shape. You don’t have to resort to professionals to do it for you because it can be quite expensive. Hence, it’s best to learn and acquire the skills needed to do the job.

This includes caring for your whetstones. Aside from sharpening your stones, it’s also important to learn how to clean it properly. This will help maintain the effectiveness of your sharpening tool.

If you find this tutorial helpful, don’t hesitate to send us your feedback, comments, or questions. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends.

Read more:

10 Best Whetstones in 2022 – Top Sharpening Stones for KnivesHow to Select the Right Natural Whetstone

Leave a Comment