How to Clean Wooden Spoons

And no, you shouldn't be putting them in the dishwasher.

Popular kitchen gadgets change, but wooden spoons have stood the test of time—and for good reason. Wood is naturally equipped with more antibacterial properties than any synthetic object because trees have the innate ability to fight off infection, bacteria, and mold, and wood retains those properties even in death (i.e. when they're turn into spoons).

Wooden spoons are a timeless cooking tool, and when they're properly cared for, they'll last for the long haul. However, even the mighty wooden spoon has its downfalls: It's susceptible to staining, crusting, burning, and breaking.

Fortunately, most of those issues are reversible. Here are five ways you can save or revitalize your trusty (yet crusty) cooking tool:

Five Ways to Clean Wooden Spoons

1. Wash with Soap

Always hand wash wooden spoons with water and soap and air-dry as soon as you're done using them. Cleaning wooden spoons as you go will help extend their lifespans. Never wash your wooden spoons in the dishwasher.

2. Treat with Oil

It's natural for your wooden spoons to look a bit dry. They may even split. Go ahead and discard the split ones, which are just inviting food to accumulate and spawn bacteria. To revive dried-out spoons, periodically rub them with mineral oil or even walnut, tung, or linseed oil. Avoid using food-based oils like vegetable or olive oil because they have a tendency to go rancid.

3. Remove Buildup with Vinegar

Buildup happens, but it's easy to fix. Let crusty spoons soak in a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution overnight to really get deep into the gunk. If that doesn't work, use a copper or stainless steel scrub for the stubborn buildup.

4. Combat Odors with Lemon or Baking Soda

It's inevitable for these spoons to get stained and absorb flavors and odors. Most of the time, these stains and smells will eventually fade. However, removing them is quite easy in the instance where the smells don't subside.

You can scrub the surface with the cut side of a halved lemon or with a baking soda and water paste. Or, you can simply sprinkle baking soda on them, generously squeeze lemon juice, and let the spoon marinate for a bit. Make sure to wash it off with soapy water, and let it fully air dry.

5. Sanitize with Hydrogen Peroxide

Lastly, if you're concerned about bacteria festering, you can sanitize your spoons by washing them with soap and water. Afterward, sprinkle on some hydrogen peroxide, and let dry. Make sure to wash them again before use.

Can I Put Wooden Spoons in the Dishwasher?

Wooden spoons should never go in the dishwasher unless you want to ruin them. The high heat and excess moisture in your dishwasher may work great for your dishes and cookware, but they'll cause your wooden spoons (and all wooden utensils for that matter) to warp, crack, and even break. Always handwash your wooden spoons with soap and warm water and let them air dry.

A wooden spoon sitting in a pan of red tomato sauce.
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