When well cared for, a rolling pin can last for generations. My French-style model has been by my side for over a decade, and I plan on keeping it around for a long time to come! Here's how I take care of it after each use to keep it clean, dry, and free from cracking or warping.
Like a nice wooden cutting board, the best wooden rolling pins are made of an untreated, well-sanded hardwood such as rock maple. They're pretty indestructible — I've even gone a year or two without oiling my rolling pin, and it's stayed in like-new condition.
Ideally, you'll clean off your rolling pin right after using it, preventing any sticky dough from adhering to the surface too stubbornly in the first place. However, if you've let some dough dry onto the pin, you can easily scrape it off with a bench scraper. Just be sure to scrape at an angle in a smooth, downward motion to avoid gouging the rolling pin with the sharp scraper.
Once your rolling pin is free of excess dough, it's ready for a quick scrub. No soap is necessary — not only does soap impart an unwanted floral fragrance, it strips the natural oils from the wood, drying out your rolling pin. A damp dish towel is all you need. I particularly like the ones with a layer of scrubby mesh for this task, as they're gently abrasive to save you a little elbow grease.
Usually, I'll just clean and dry my rolling pin and call it a day, but if it's looking a little dry (or I'm feeling particularly fastidious), I'll buff in some mineral oil before I store it away. You can also use butcher block oil if you've got some on hand, but it's not necessary and more expensive than mineral oil. I picked mine up at IKEA for $4.99, but you can also find it in any grocery, hardware, or cookware store.
To avoid gouging your rolling pin, hold a bench scraper vertically with one end resting on the countertop. Use your other hand to hold the bench scraper at an angle to the rolling pin, and scrape down the side. Rotate the rolling pin and continue to scrape, always with downward strokes, until you've removed all of the stuck-on dough and flour.
How To Clean a French-Style Wooden Rolling Pin
What You Need
Wooden rolling pin (any style)
Damp scrubby dishtowel
Dry dish towel
Mineral oil or butcher block oil (optional, every few cleanings)
Terry cloth towel (optional, every few cleanings)
Scrape off any bits of stuck-on dough: To avoid gouging your rolling pin, hold it vertically with one end resting on the countertop. Use your other hand to hold the bench scraper at an angle to the rolling pin, and scrape down the side. Rotate the rolling pin and continue to scrape, always with downward strokes, until you've removed all of the stuck-on dough and flour.
Scrub the rolling pin clean: With the damp terry cloth, scrub the rolling pin firmly until it's completely clean and no residue remains. If it's quite dirty, you may have to rinse out your cloth once or twice and go over the rolling pin again.
Dry thoroughly: Use the dry dish towel to remove any excess moisture from the rolling pin, then set it down to dry.
Oil the rolling pin: Regularly oiling your rolling pin will increase its longevity considerably, keeping the wood conditioned and preventing cracks from forming. Dab a few drops of mineral oil or butcher block oil onto the lint-free cleaning cloth, then rub it into the entire surface of the pin. Let dry out on the counter for an hour or so, allowing the oil absorb into the pin completely before returning to storage.
Don't use soap. Ever. Don't do it! It'll strip the wood of its natural oils, shortening the life of your rolling pin.
Never leave the rolling pin soaking in water. Even if you've got lots of stuck on dough, it's a much better idea to scrape and scrub it off than to soak the rolling pin. Soaking can cause the wood to bow, warp, or crack. Additionally, if you've got the sort of rolling pin with handles and metal components, the metal can rust when soaked since there is no good way to get the inside of the pin thoroughly dry.
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(Image credits: Coco Morante)