11 Genius Cutlery Hacks

If you enjoy cooking at home, chances are that you enjoy eating at home too. Part of that experience, whether a quick bite to eat or a long, drawn-out dinner, is not just the food itself, but what you're eating it with too. Cutlery is important to dining, and, more specifically, clean cutlery that's in good condition. No one wants to put a dirty fork in their mouth as they take a bite of their favorite dish, or butter a slice of bread with a rusty knife when making a sandwich. Likewise, being presented with tarnished silverware alongside a delicate dessert doesn't exactly make things more appetizing. 

According to a feature in Prevention, less than clean cutlery has proved to be a health hazard, too. The article highlights how researchers in the U.S. identified viruses that had lingered after cutlery and tableware were washed in restaurants. The findings proved that there were fewer germs after using a dishwasher than washing by hand. With fewer people beyond family and friends likely to be using your silverware at home, and more opportunities to look after your flatware, there's really no excuse for not keeping it table-ready. There're lots of genius cutlery hacks out there, so get your knives, forks, and spoons sorted and at the ready before you dig into dining. 

Wash cutlery with a ball of foil!

Gone are the days when you have to painstakingly wash individual knives and forks by hand. The dishwasher is a must in any household, and while it pretty much does what the name implies, there are ways you can improve its capabilities. Though the inner mechanics of how a dishwasher cleans cutlery may be finely tuned, a TikTok hack by @caroline.mccauley is ever so simple. The Australian woman's tip hit the headlines when she revealed a genius shiny cutlery trick involving a ball of foil in the dishwasher.

The hack, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and was picked up in a 9NOW article, is designed to leave your dirty cutlery not just clean but sparkling. All you need to do is roll a piece of aluminium foil into a ball and pop it into the cutlery basket of your dishwasher along with dirty and tarnished knives, forks, and spoons. Set the machine to wash as you would ordinarily and let the foil work its magic. With cutlery that sparkles, you may feel inspired to freshen up your mealtimes as well, like with a healthy summer salad

Stack your cutlery drawer sideways

There's nothing as satisfying as learning a simple hack that makes you want to slap your forehead in disbelief that you didn't think of it before. One TikTok video went viral when it was posted in 2021, attracting over 5.1 million views in just over a year. The hack, which was featured in an article in Diply, shows how to best stack cutlery in your drawer.

The @patriciapradooliv clip launched a viral debate on how to best fill a cutlery drawer. It shows flatware being added to a plastic cupboard insert for cutlery. Instead of the traditional way of stacking knives, forks, and spoons on top of each other, neatly place them on their side in a row instead, with the blades of each knife pointing downward. When it comes to teaspoons, stack these the same way in front of the larger spoons, and the same goes for any smaller forks. You can stack any really small cutlery or extras that won't fit in the classic way. Not only does this hack look tidy, but you can also immediately see how much of each you have left in your drawer too.

Store flatware without a drawer

If your kitchen or dining space is limited, or you are a lover of cutlery and have several sets, then you either may not have a drawer for flatware or you may not have enough room to hold a prized set of silverware. In any event, you're left with the same issue of finding the right storage solution for your knives, forks, and spoons. One great hack by Chopped and Cooked is to create handy storage pouches that you can actually hang up so that you don't need to use up any precious counter space.

Sew three sides of three rectangular pieces of cloth onto a larger piece, leaving the top side of each open. Separate your cutlery and put knives in one pouch, forks in the other, and spoons in the third. You can not only suspend this creation on a wall or cabinet door, but you can also use a material that complements the décor of your kitchen so you're making a design statement too. Meanwhile, Pastels and Macarons suggest making a cutlery caddy, which is perfect if you want a mobile cutlery carrier. Paint three tin cans, glue a band of burlap onto each, and store them in a wooden crate for a rustic-looking silverware holder. Enjoy some retro-style dishes to match your laid-back cutlery caddy.

Give your silverware a baking soda bath

There's nothing worse than sitting down to a wonderful meal with silverware that's tarnished. The stained look gives your high-end knives and forks a gloomy, less than gleaming appearance and can be distracting from the main event, which should be focused on enjoying some home-cooked food. Silver knives and forks that've seen better days also make a set table for a formal event or even a relaxed dinner party or family meal look a bit drab. A hack presented by Epicurious aims to give tarnished silverware a new lease of life and restore it to its former glory with a good soak and a polish. Here's how:

Line a tray that you don't use for cooking with foil in an area that's ventilated. You can also use a disposable aluminum tray. Arrange your silverware so that you don't have knives and forks on top of each other. Pour a generous amount of baking soda over the cutlery and then add in boiling water. You want the cutlery to be completely covered by the water. The tarnish should start to disappear after just 5 minutes. Lay the soaked silverware on a cotton dishcloth to dry, removing each piece from the water using tongs. Once drained, use dry cloths to buff up individual pieces. If you want a deeper clean then you can always repeat the process, although you may want to retain some signs of aging if your set is vintage. Keep things in good condition by using a special silver cloth to guard against tarnishing. 

Remove rust from stainless steel with cola

Rusty stainless steel cutlery is hardly appetizing and certainly doesn't add to your at-home dining experience. Did you know that you can get your knives and forks rust-free with a simple carbonated drink hack? If you're the sort of person who doesn't like to just blindly follow internet trends, here's the science behind how cola can be used to combat rust, via Hunker. Phosphoric acid, which is present in soft drinks, gets rid of rust by dissolving the iron oxide and serves as a gentle cleaning remedy that's less toxic than other solutions too. 

Soak your rusty cutlery in a glass or plastic container of cola for 24 hours. After removing it from the cola bath, use a non-metal scrubbing tool to remove rust from the flatware. You may need to soak again to get rid of any stubborn areas. When you're done, rinse your knives, forks, and spoons to get rid of any remaining bits of rust and lay them out to dry naturally. Cratex provides a variation of this tip, suggesting you dip some folded aluminum foil into a bowl of cola and use it as a scrubbing pad to remove rust before rinsing and drying your flatware. Once you've finished, reward yourself for a job well done by using the leftover cola to make a refreshing cold brew cola to quench your first after all that buffing!

Put knives down and spoons up to wash

For many, the question of how to load a dishwasher is contentious, to say the least. While useful, there's no doubt that debates rage in some households about how and where to put various pieces of crockery. When it comes to cutlery, the opinions focus on whether each implement should point up or down, whether similar implements should be placed together, how full you should fill the basket, and on and on. Thankfully, NBC News has stepped in to try to put an end to the cutlery washing confusion once and for all.

The official line from dishwasher makers is that knives should be loaded facing down, with manufacturers generally citing safety from cuts and injury as the reason. So, what about forks and spoons? Some say safety dictates all cutlery point downward. Others suggest that flatware will be cleaned better if knives are placed down but forks and spoons point up. This includes a consumer test leader, quoted in the news feature, who advises that this mix of up and down enables the water pressure exposure to increase. Another tip to prevent cutlery from crowding together during a wash — a problem spoons, in particular, are prone to –  is to put each piece into the slots in the basket. When you've mastered loading your dishwater, make a hearty soup and enjoy with your expertly washed spoons.

Use a mug to sharpen your knives!

While most of your sharp knives may be for prepping food, you may well have some knives that need sharpening in your cutlery set too. Whether flatware to eat with or a blade to chop with, you'll need to make sure the edge of your knives doesn't get too blunt. Struggling to cut into a delicious dish can turn mealtimes into a workout, and food can get cold and end up being hacked up rather than sliced into bite-size morsels. Not to mention, dull blades can more easily slip, making them more dangerous than properly sharpened tools. If you haven't got a professional knife sharpener, fear not — all you need to sharpen up your knives, according to a hack featured on Insider, is a coffee mug! 

If you turn over your porcelain mug, you'll see there's a rough edge on the bottom. Slide the blade of your knife across this surface a few times. You'll need to move the knife with purpose. Instead of cutting down with the edge of the knife on the mug, run the side of the blade along, as if you're wiping it with the edge of the cup. Turn over the knife and repeat on the other side. Not a coffee drinker? Use a plate instead! Now cut into a delicious dinner such as a tender steak!

Straighten wonky fork tines with a ruler

Did you know that the prongs of forks are actually called tines? A fork is supposed to have uniform spaces between its tines so that it looks better and is easier to clean. It no doubt changes how the fork shovels or spears food if these tines aren't well-spaced, and may not feel quite as nice when you have a forkful of food in your moth either. While tines that are a bit crooked may not be your biggest cutlery issue, a hack by The Non-Consumer Advocate is so simple it's fun to do, not to mention satisfying too, and all you need is a ruler!

Silverware's soft metal means tines can easily bend out of position. However, because it's more pliable, you can easily straighten it back into shape too. First, dunk your fork into some boiling water. Get a hard ruler and slide it between tines and move it around, from side to side and backward and forward. The tines will separate and this will solve the problem of tines touching together because they're leaning more one way or another. Keep dipping and using your ruler several times to get your tines perfectly straight. Tines well-spaced, it's time to cook up some easy spaghetti recipes and get twirling.

Clean cutlery on the top rack of your dishwasher

If your dishwasher has a top rack that looks like a tray with little teeth-like prongs sticking out? If so, read on for a mind-blowing cutlery tip featured in Metro. If not, continue to read on and look for any opportunity to astound family and friends who do have a dishwasher like this, while continuing to put your flatware into a basket to clean, now that you know the best way to arrange them.

While you may be forgiven for thinking this top rack was simply intended for long utensils, an Aussie cleaning expert, @cleanfreakcleaningco, posted a clip to suggest that you may be loading your machine all wrong. Instead of using the basket, knives, forks, and spoons can be loaded sideways onto this rack, slotting between the prongs and making greater use of this narrow space at the top. It's certainly a way to separate cutlery so that the water gets all the way around and explains what the many ridges are for. It really comes down to whether or not you're prepared to put each piece of flatware in like this or whether a quick drop in a basket's more your style, even if the odd spoon isn't quite as clean as it could be.

Engrave your camping cutlery

Camping is great fun and there's nothing as wonderful as food cooked over a flame. Many of us know there's no better way to share the joy of the Great Outdoors than with a cookout feast with familiar family and friends or new people in your community. Whether you're grilling on a barbeque or an open fire, it's the experience of sharing food in a relaxed, natural environment that appeals to so many. However, if you're camping with others or simply sharing a communal kitchen or wash-up area, cutlery can frustratingly get mixed up. The result is going home with less than the full set of knives, forks, and spoons that you set off with.  

A good hack suggested by Free Camping Australia is to mark your campsite cutlery as your own by engraving it. You don't need any fancy equipment, rather just an affordable metal engraver from a hardware store. To make your handiwork less arduous, pick a design that's simple so that it's quick and easy to replicate — straightforward lines work well. Meanwhile, a good portable storage container that can fit even your longest utensil will be handy to keep everything together in one place.

Roll cutlery for dinner

You don't have to be at a fancy restaurant to sit down with cutlery rolled in a napkin. It works well for parties at home too, whether you've invited people over for a delicious plant-based cookout or planning to make some graduation party food. When you're dining al fresco, wrapping cutlery is a great way to ensure napkins don't blow away, and it will speed up buffet lines too if diners can easily grab a pre-rolled knife, fork, and spoon set in a napkin along with their food. You may even just want to smarten up your dining table by rolling silverware when you're hosting a dinner party.

If you need some guidance on how to roll your silverware ready for dining, a helpful hack from Instructables explains how. Flatten a square napkin out on a table with one of the points facing the edge. Lay your knife horizontal to the edge of the table, pointing to your left, with the end just beyond the point of the napkin on the left-hand side. Neatly stack the fork and then the spoon on top of the knife. Keeping your cutlery in place, fold the napkin over the set from the lower point upward. Next, take the corner at the bottom, on the right-hand side, and fold that over and inward. Make sure the cutlery is tightly tucked in before you roll the napkin and cutlery upward. With clean, organized, and well-presented cutlery, enjoy dining on an array of delectable dishes.