Boy, do your wooden spoons come in handy! Not only can you use them for the obvious — mixing cake batter and stirring stews — but they can double as pot-lid-venters and cake-hole-pokers too. The only problem? They tend to absorb food odors and stains, get super slimy and crack if not cleaned and cared for. Thankfully, learning how to clean wooden spoons properly will make it quite easy to keep them in tip-top, sanitary shape. Read on for tips from the pros.
“Wooden spoons are a kitchen staple that can last for years if properly cared for,” says Lindsey Chastain, who shares recipes and homesteading tips on her website, The Waddle and Cluck. “Over time, wooden spoons can accumulate food residue, oils, and bacteria that need to be cleaned off.” Plus, they can harbor bacteria if not sanitized. Unlike plastic utensils, however, these kitchen tools are more difficult to deodorize and get clean without damaging the wood.
How *not* to clean wooden spoons
Before tackling how to clean wooden spoons, it’s key to know how not to. That’s because you may think that immersing them in water along with the rest of your kitchen utensils is the way to go, but experts disagree. In fact, a popular TikTok trend has suggested giving your spoons a deep clean — and giving you a chance to see just how dirty they are — by soaking them in hot water.
“At the beginning of every month, I take all my wooden spoons and spatulas and I boil them in water for 20 minutes,” shares content creator Nicole Jacques in the video below.
While this trick can certainly draw out some of the grease and residue stuck inside the wood pores, cleaning experts say it’s not an ideal method.
“Wooden spoons don’t love soaking in water — it can cause them to crack or warp, so a quick wash is the way to go,” explains Karen Morales a member of the shine squad at CompanyClean in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Similarly, wooden spoons should stay out of the dishwasher as it too can damage the utensils over time. “The intense heat and prolonged exposure to water can cause the wood to crack, warp or even split,” she adds. “Dishwashers can also strip away the natural oils in the wood, leading to dryness and a shorter lifespan for your spoons.”
The best way to clean wooden spoons
The pantry staple that ensures your wooden utensils get properly cleaned? Baking soda! “Make a paste with baking soda and water and gently rub it over the surface of the spoon,” shares Chastain. “Rinse until the paste is completely removed. The baking soda will help cut through grease and neutralize odors.” Plus, the gritty texture is great at scrubbing off bacteria-forming food bits.
Another perk of the powder? “Since it’s water soluble, it gets drawn into the wood right along with the water,” shares an expert from America’s Test Kitchen in the video below. This means that baking soda creates an alkaline environment that neutralizes germs even within the wood’s pores. (Bonus: This trick works great for your wooden cutting board too!)
Another key to keeping your wooden spoon clean? Rinse immediately with hot water after using to remove any food debris. “Try to avoid letting food dry onto the wood, as this can stain,” adds Chastain.
Also important: Be sure to let your spoon air dry completely — either standing up in a utensil caddy or laying flat on a clean dish towel — before you store away, advises Chastain. “Don’t nest wet wooden spoons together, as this can trap moisture and promote bacteria growth.”
The key to ensuring wooden spoons last: Oil them
Besides regular cleaning, there’s one more step you’ll want to take to extend the life of your wooden spoons: oiling them!
Rub a small amount of food-grade mineral oil (Buy from Amazon, $11) over the surface of the spoon and let soak in for a few hours before wiping away any excess. For best results, apply monthly! “Doing this keeps the wood from drying out and cracking, plus it brings out the natural beauty of the wood,” says Morales. “You’ll get many more meals out of them with some extra care.”
Watch wooden utensils get a treatment with a teaspoon of oil in the video below:
For more kitchen cleaning hacks, keep reading!