I use this tool to lightly sharpen and refine a honed edge. Used precisely as Paul recommends, you'll extend the life (and sharpness) of your knives while removing very little metal. I sometimes use a steel for honing, followed by a few very light passes with the Idahone to clean up the honed edge. Most of the time though, I just use the Idahone. Restores the cutting edge to "like new" in no time flat, while avoiding/delaying the need to sharpen on stones.. The key is, keep your knife sharp,,, don't wait until it gets "dull". I typically "feather" the edges of my knives (drawing the rod "away" from the edge).
When I'm slicing tomatoes for example, my knife immediately "bites" into the skin, and I can cut "see-through" slices with no effort whatsoever.. I've been experimenting with one knife in particular,(a Victorinox 6" utility knife), and so far, I've gone 2 years and 9 months without having to re-sharpen on stones. The instant I feel that the knife resists slicing into the tomato skins, I get the Idahone out, and after a few light passes,,, I'm good to go again. By the way,, I do have plenty of stones ( a dozen or so Shapton Glass, Naniwas, Nortons, Tormek, etc)
For cleaning the rod,,, get the Superaser. It works like a charm. I've tried scouring pads, dish soap, etc., and nothing remotely comes close to the Superaser for speed and efficiency.