How to clean wooden spoons

wooden spoon in tomato sauce

Whether you’re mixing a pot of Sunday sauce or scraping a bowl of cookie dough with it, a wooden spoon is an essential tool to have in your cooking arsenal. However, cleaning a wooden spoon isn’t as simple as loading it into the dishwasher after you’re done using it and running a cleaning cycle.

Although the best wooden spoons and spoon sets are typically constructed from a high-quality, dense wood, even well-made wooden utensils will eventually break or crack after repeated dishwasher cycles. That’s because the high heat and humidity of a dishwasher will strip a wooden spoon’s natural oils over time, causing it to become more susceptible to damage and splintering. For the same reason, soaking a wooden spoon overnight or for an extended amount of time should also be avoided.

So, if you’re wondering how to clean wooden spoons, keep scrolling for the best methods to try, as well as some tips for sanitizing and deodorizing them and removing annoying stains.

wooden spoons

How To Clean Wooden Spoons Without Damaging Them

The simplest and best way to clean a wooden spoon is to hand-wash it in hot water with a mild dish soap immediately after use. Cleaning it immediately will help prevent stains from forming, especially if you’re using the wooden spoon for bright-colored sauces. Afterward, blot any excess moisturize with a clean towel and then allow it to air-dry completely to prevent any moisture from getting trapped inside the porous wood material.

To disinfect a wooden spoon, you can also dip it into a glass of vinegar or a low-concentration formula with hydrogen peroxide for about five minutes after washing. (If you prefer not to soak them, you can also just give them a quick rinse with either liquid.)

Some people also swear by a popular TikTok hack that dictates you soak your wooden spoons in a glass of boiling water for 5-20 minutes or up to a few hours. This method reportedly degreases the wooden utensil as well as sanitizes it. Plus, you’ll know it worked if the grease from the spoon turns the clear boiling water into a murky-colored mess.

Here’s the simple method from TikTok user Jessica Haizman:

@jessicahaizman The end result though 🤢🤢 #satisfying #deepclean #woodenspoon #thewoodenspoon #cleanhome #deepcleaning #cleantok #cleaningtok #nasty #gross #kitchen ♬ Bongo cha-cha-cha – Remastered – Caterina Valente

Lots of folks — including writers at TheKitchn and Real Homes — tried the hack as seen on TikTok, and were disgusted/fascinated with the amount of icky muck that was released from the spoons after sitting in boiling-hot water. Some people followed the sitting-in-water step with scrubbing the spoons and then allowing them to air-dry, and admittedly, the spoons do seem much cleaner after this process.

However, allowing wooden utensils to sit in piping hot water for long periods of time will ultimately shorten their lifespans. As one cleaning expert explained to Daily Express, exposing wood to moisture and heat will only encourage warping and cracking, and may lead to bacteria forming in the wood fibers.

How To Clean Stained Wooden Spoons

Foods like tomato sauce and berries can easily stain wooden spoons, and while it may look unsightly, the wooden spoons are still safe to use, even if discolored. Fortunately, the staining will also fade over time. Still, if you dislike the immediate look of food stains on your wooden spoons, you can help to speed the fading process along by creating your own spoon exfoliation scrub.

To do so, you just need to grab a few items you likely already have in your pantry. Try the following methods:

  • Create a salt and citrus scrub by pouring a tablespoon of salt onto the spoon. Then, use half of a cut lemon to scrub the salt over the stain to buff it away.
  • Alternatively, create a paste with baking soda and water and scrub it onto the stain with half of the lemon. In addition to minimizing stains, baking soda is also fantastic at neutralizing any lingering odors your wooden spoon may have absorbed.
  • If the above options above don’t work, and you happen to have a piece of finely-textured sandpaper laying around, you can also use this to buff and restore your wooden spoon. Not only will this help reduce staining, but it will also smooth out any rough spots.


Oil Wooden Spoons To Extend Their Life

Wooden spoons may become dried out or take on a fuzzy-looking appearance with a lot of use. If you notice this is the case for your spoons, it’s a great idea to season them with a food-safe mineral oil to help prevent cracking. On the TikTok video above, Haizman also recommends oiling your spoons after the deep-cleaning process. Regular moisturizing will extend the lifespan of your spoons.

Although food oils like olive and canola are also safe to use, some experts recommend avoiding them when moisturizing wooden utensils because the oils may become rancid over time and leave your spoon with an unpleasant scent.


How Often Should You Replace Wooden Spoons?

Wooden spoons can dry and crack over time, even with proper care and regular moisturizing. That should be your cue to throw them out and replace them with a fresh set.

Although wood contains natural antibacterial properties, mold is also an issue to watch for. Mold can form on a wooden spoon that was left soaking in water for an extended period of time or on spoons that were put away without being thoroughly dried. So, if you see any black spots on your wooden utensils, that’s another indication that it’s time to throw your existing spoons away.

Also, look for discoloration or soft spots. Some lifestyle sites recommend replacing your wooden spoons every five years or so.

wooden spoons, bowls and cutting boards

Now that you know never to put a wooden spoon in the dishwasher, read about seven other things you should never put in your dishwasher.

Cleaning & Organization, Home, Tips & Advice

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About the Author
Margeaux Baulch Klein
Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and digital strategist based in Los Angeles. She has written for publications like the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others.

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