Clean and oiled wooden spoons

How To Keep Wooden Spoons Like New

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Wooden spoons are a classic kitchen utensil that can last a lifetime with proper care. But neglect or improper washing can lead to dullness, fraying, cracks, and splits, which harbor bacteria and odors. To keep your wooden spoons safe, you need to understand why they crack and how to care for them properly.

Keeping Wooden Spoons Safe to Use

If you know how to care for wood spoons, they’re safe to use. Letting them fray or crack, though, lets food seep into the wood. Over time, this can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella or E. coli, which can cause food-borne illnesses. You’ll also notice your spoon looks stained and may even smell bad.

By properly cleaning and moisturizing your wooden spoons, you can prevent cracks and keep them in good condition. Regularly washing your spoons by hand with hot, soapy water, and oiling them with coconut oil or food-grade mineral oil can help seal their surface and keep them safe to use.

Why Wood Spoons Crack and Split

Wooden spoons can crack over time due to the natural properties of wood. Cutting a spoon from a piece of wood leaves rough and sometimes sharp edges at the end of the wood’s grain. These edges can fray when the spoon gets wet from use or washing. Frayed wood fibers collect stains and odors, and allow moisture to penetrate the wood, causing it to split.

To prevent wooden spoons from cracking, hand wash them with hot water and mild dish soap, then immediately towel dry to keep moisture from penetrating the wood. Every few weeks, rub them well with food-grade mineral oil or coconut oil to seal and protect their surface. Do not add them to the dishwasher, as extreme temperatures and detergents can cause splitting.

Steps to Clean and Maintain Wooden Spoons

Step 1: Wash by hand.

When washing wooden spoons, use hot water and liquid dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and towel dry immediately to keep water from seeping into the wood. For stubborn stains, use a nylon scrubber or a damp rag with baking soda or table salt.

Step 2: Smooth rough spots.

To refurbish splintered or rough wooden spoons, use 320-grit sandpaper or a steel wool pad to smooth the surface by rubbing along the grain. Wipe the spoon with a damp cloth after sanding to remove debris. Check the spoon’s smoothness and repeat sanding if needed. Then, moisturize the spoon to seal its surface and protect it from further damage.

Step 3: Moisturize with oil.

Moisturize wooden spoons with a layer of oil to keep them hydrated and protect them from stains and heat damage. Food-grade mineral oil or coconut oil are good options. Rub the oil into the wood using a soft cloth or paper towel, covering all crevices and the handle. Leave it overnight to soak into the wood. The next day, use a clean cloth to wipe off excess oil and prevent stickiness. Repeat oiling every few weeks to maintain the spoon’s shine and prolong its lifespan.

Helpful Tips

  • Don’t let wooden utensils air dry after washing them. Towel dry them immediately to prevent moisture from penetrating the wood.
  • Do not let wooden spoons soak in the sink, as too much water can cause them to crack.
  • Remove wooden spoons from foods while they cook. Leaving a wooden spoon in a simmering pot of food exposes it to too much moisture.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or abrasive cleaning tools that can damage the wood’s surface.
  • To remove odors like garlic or onion from your wooden utensils, rub them with the cut side of a halved lemon dipped in table salt. Let this sit for 5 minutes, then wash and dry them.
  • Store wooden spoons in a dry place away from heat sources to prevent them from warping or cracking.

When to Toss Your Wood Utensils

Once wooden spoons crack or split, it’s time to stop using them for cooking because they can harbor bacteria and are no longer food-safe. Instead, repurpose them as garden markers or craft pieces. If your wooden utensils are unpainted or unvarnished, you can also compost them or check if your local recycling center accepts them.

By following these simple steps, you can keep your wooden spoons in good condition and make them last practically forever. With proper care, you’ll not only maintain their shine and durability but also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.

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29 Comments

  1. michelle mclellen says:

    I do something like this for my wood handle knives, but not my spoons.Oops better get to work. Thanks for tips !

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It’s a great thing to do on wood-handled knives, so you’re already ahead of me!

  2. I have a question about maintaining my new teak wood spurtle set. I hand washed them in hot soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, towel blotted & then air dried them for 24 hours. I then applied food grade mineral oil, let sit over night, applied a 2nd coat, let sit overnight again & then applied wood conditioner (beeswax & mineral oil compound) twice letting it sit overnight both times between applications. Now I’m ready to use them but I’m wondering (in order to keep them in tip-top shape), can I just recondition them every so often with the wood conditioner, or do I need to do the mineral oil treatment again, followed by the wood conditioner EVERY time I want to recondition the utensils? I can’t find any information anywhere on what (or which) is the best treatment one should do to maintain them AFTER you’ve been using them for awhile. I appreciate some advice! Thanks!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Sherry,
      I think I’d use one or the other, not both. I just oil things monthly.

  3. Great tips! I’ve just invested in some rather nice quality wooden spurtles and spoons for use in my instant pots. I’ve always oiled my Boos cutting board but other than that I didn’t think much about the utensils. When I invested in Olive wood salt and pepper pots I knew I needed to keep them oiled and looking nice. Now I’ll know how to wash, treat and maintain my newly acquired wooden utensils. Thank you!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re very welcome, Lynn.

  4. Hi Katie, this might be a silly question but how exactly do you saturate the spoons (or other utensils) with oil? Could I use a brush (unused paint brush, or pastry brush, or similar) and brush the oil on that way?
    Thanks!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That’s not a silly question at all, Kerry. You can certainly use a pastry brush if you’d like. I just use a paper towel to do it. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the great advice! I do not use my spoons for meat or raw eggs etc, but should I still sanitize the spoons occasionally? If so, how do I sanitize?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      A good wash in hot, soapy water and a rub dry should be sufficient. Keep them oiled so their surface stays smooth and you’ll prevent bacteria from getting into the wood.

  6. Aarsun Woods says:

    Thanks for sharing a good ideas for cleaning wooden spoon and how to care.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      My pleasure.

  7. OK, have a tiny drinking mug, carved from wood, untreated, I read your post to see how to care for this. (as wooden spoons are used in cooking) but not sure I want to oil as beverage picks up taste of oil.. any suggestions?

    cup is very tiny holds less than a shot, I want to use it to have alcohol with friends, but when I tell them just a taste…. this way, they cannot give me much…

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I really don’t know a good solution for that, sorry.

  8. SuchandSuch says:

    I received my beautiful wooden spoons last year and followed your instructions for cleaning them. My wooden spoons gets used every day and still look like new. Thanks for the great tips.

  9. What about old wooden rolling pins?? I still use mine occasionally, and do sand it, but should it be oiled??

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, it’s a good idea to oil those regularly, too!

  10. Hello, I am a spoon carver, I have spent alot of time perfecting the finishing process of my spoons. First of all, after I finish sand a spoon or board I wet it down and allow it to dry which raises the grain. Then I resand, I do this process 3 to 4 times until the grain stops raising. Then I use 100% natural tung oil, which is FDA approved food safe finish. Tung oil is one of the few oils that will dry and leave a protective coating that lasts much longer than most other oil finishes. It also does not go rancid like olive oil or some nut oils. The tung oil process I use Involves many coats that are allowed to dry a week at a time. Yes, this is alot of effort for a spoon, but buying a handcrafted spoon can be very expensive and this is the reason. A well crafted spoon can be handed down from generation to generation. Personally I see spoons and boards as art for your kitchen.

    1. what is Tung oil and where do you purchase

  11. Please help! I now know how to care for my spoons thanks to your post but what would you recommend for removing stains? Should I just sand away the stains and then treat them with a wood butter? Thanks!

  12. Bianca Gallo says:

    I have a huge bunch of wooden kitchen spoons, but until I read your post, I never gave the fact a thought that they too can be taken good care of. I thank you for all your suggestions and am hoping that by following some of them, I will have a bunch of lustrous and beautiful looking wooden spoons sitting in my kitchen.

  13. Heidi Tijssen says:

    Just in time! I bougth a new set of wooden spoons (and a spatula only for working butter, but I don’t think that one needs oiling) and asked myself how to keep it in good shape. To be honest, I never have seen some one oiling their wooden spoons over here!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Heidi, oiling wood spoons will make sure your investment lasts so much longer. The spatula you’ll be using for butter may or may not need it: if it starts looking dry, consider oiling it to keep bacteria out of the wood, and thus out of your butter.

  14. clairejustineoxox says:

    Great tips here thank you 🙂 Thanks for joining us at Creative Mondays..

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks, ClaireJustine! 🙂

  15. Lazy Budget Chef says:

    I’m such a bad person. I don’t do anything on your list to my wood spoons and that’s what I use all of the time. oops.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Might want to start oiling them, then. Rough wooden spoons allow bacteria to grow in between the fibers. Ew!

    2. Jean Bush says:

      Same here. I had an old set of spoons I used for everything for 20 yrs. Just washed in soapy water with the rest of the dishes. No splintering or cracking. Have a new set of bamboo utensils that are very smooth & easy to clean. Somehow, my soups tasted better with the old spoons, hahaha!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      LOL I think the older ones are seasoned with love!

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