The One Thing Experts Wish You Would Stop Doing to Your Wooden Spoons

published Dec 2, 2023
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Credit: Meg Asby

Everyone on TikTok is boiling their wooden spoons right now, but I just learned that it’s a big no-no. For me, this is very good news. Boiling utensils sounds labor-intensive, and I can hardly psych myself up to fill a pot to boil pasta. I was relieved to scroll upon America’s Test Kitchen’s TikTok addressing the issue. 

In the TikTok, Lisa McManus, executive editor of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews, explains that boiling wooden tools removes the natural oils and causes the utensils to absorb water, which leads to the dreaded shrinking and cracking. 

The Test Kitchen’s recommended alternative is a classic one: hot, soapy water. For the same reasons you shouldn’t boil your wooden tools, you shouldn’t soak them either. Simply wash, rinse, and pat dry. If the tools feel a bit “parched,” treat them with a food-grade mineral oil and let sit overnight. In the morning, wipe the excess oil and your tools are ready to go. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Luckily I already owned everything I needed to try this method out — even the food-grade mineral oil, believe it or not. (Treating my cutting boards was always something I meant to do but never did, like reaching inbox zero or practicing daily yoga — then one day I clicked “buy now,” and I became the sort of person whose cutting boards are going to last forever. It wasn’t even hard!).

Until seeing this video, however, I hadn’t thought to use the oil on my wooden spoons, and it showed. My oldest spoon — one I probably “borrowed” from my mother’s kitchen — had significant cracks. 

Credit: Meg Asby

If you’ve already boiled your spoons, I’m here to tell you that all hope is not lost! I dutifully washed, dried, and treated my cracked spoon with mineral oil. The treatment didn’t make the cracks disappear (it’s not magical), but the dry spoon did soak up lots of moisture, and it looks and feels 100 times better than before. Now that I know how to care for it, I don’t have to worry about the cracks getting worse, and my other spoons won’t be subject to the same fate. 

Credit: Meg Asby

If you’re thinking, great, another cleaning rule to remember, I get it. I feel like I need to post a sign above my sink with washing instructions for each item in my kitchen: This can go in the dishwasher, that can’t, and you can’t even put soap on that one. But for anything wooden, just remember to hand-wash and oil periodically. Or, as one commenter put it, “Oil, don’t boil! Got it!”

Buy: Food-Grade Mineral Oil, $8.99