The Best Way to Clean Wooden Spoons to Make Them Last Longer

published Dec 28, 2023
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Young Woman with Many Bracelets Washes Wooden Spoon in Kitchen Sink Grey Color Themed Kitchen
Credit: Matt Levi Media / Shutterstock

Wooden spoons look great displayed on your counter and easily scoot around a nonstick pan. Still, you’ve probably dealt with the unpleasant aftermath of getting food stuck on your wooden spoons or accidentally soaking them. Aesthetically pleasing and an excellent choice for cooking, wooden spoons also require a particular kind of care to keep them looking and working their best. 

But paying extra attention to your wooden spoons is worth it to have these natural beauties in the kitchen. They’re not impossible (or all that difficult) to properly maintain, but you should keep a few things in mind. To help you keep your wooden spoons in tip-top shape, I asked four home cleaning experts about the best way to clean these versatile utensils.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Clean Wooden Spoons

According to Elizabeth Shields, operations manager of Super Cleaning Service Louisville, there are two crucial rules for cleaning your wooden spoons: First, never put them in a dishwasher, and second, clean them by hand as soon as possible after using them. “Handwashing is the golden rule for wooden spoons,” Shields says. 

“This speedy rinse isn’t just about cleanliness — it’s about preventing those stubborn stains and food gunk from sticking and drying out on your spoons,” Shields says. Here’s her best method for cleaning a wooden spoon:

  1. Hold the wooden spoon under warm running water immediately after use.
  2. Gently rub the surface with your fingers or a soft sponge.  
  3. Hand wash with warm water, soap, and a soft cloth or sponge. 

“Wooden spoons don’t like soaking in water,” says Aaron Christensen, cleaning expert and VP of Growth at Homeaglow. “Extended exposure to water will waterlog your wood, which means the water erodes the cell walls and breaks down its structural integrity,” he explains. 

It’s essential to hand dry your wooden spoons with a towel as soon as possible after washing them. Then, leave them out to air dry completely before returning them to a drawer or utensil holder. “Depending on the humidity levels of your climate, this could take a few hours,” Christensen says.

Can I Put Wooden Spoons in the Dishwasher?

Never wash your wooden spoons in the dishwasher. “The hot water and steamy environment can make wooden spoons swell up and then shrink back down as they dry,” Shields says. Those extreme temperature changes and moisture can cause wooden spoons to crack or warp.

Credit: Dana Velden

How to Deep Clean Wooden Spoons

In addition to washing your spoons immediately and drying them properly, deep clean them when you notice any staining or odors. “If you have tough stains on your spoons, rub them with a slice of lemon sprinkled with coarse salt,” says Ryan Knoll, owner of Tidy Casa. “The acidity of the lemon and the abrasiveness of the salt can help lift the stains without damaging the wood.” He also suggests scrubbing with a baking soda paste to deodorize your wooden spoons

As someone who writes about the best ways to clean your home, I’ve developed a preferred wooden spoon cleaning method. I use hydrogen peroxide to sanitize my wooden spoons about once a month. I attach a spray nozzle to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray my wooden spoons generously. (Remember to wear gloves when working with hydrogen peroxide and never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar.) Finally, I allow the hydrogen peroxide to dry completely and then wash my wooden spoons as usual with soap and water before using them again. 

How to Fix Dry Wooden Spoons

Soap and water “wash out the wood’s natural oils,” Christensen says. When the dry wood becomes brittle, it splits, he says. “Splits in wood are the perfect crevices for food gunk to get stuck [in],” he adds, noting you should throw out any cracked spoons. 

You can add oil to dried-out wooden spoons before cracks develop, helping them last longer. “Wooden spoons don’t like becoming too dry. Just think of Goldilocks: not too dry, not too wet, and they will be happy,” Christensen says. 

Credit: Meg Asby

How to Oil Wooden Spoons

Christensen provides a step-by-step process for how to oil your wooden spoons:

  1. First, dry your wooden spoon completely. “Before you start to oil, you need to make sure the wood is cleaned and bone dry … wet wood won’t absorb oil,” Christensen explains.
  2. Next, oil or wax your wooden spoon. Massage an oil or wax into your dry wooden spoon. John Boos All Natural Beeswax Moisture Cream is an excellent choice. “The application of this isn’t too specific,” Christensen says. “Just be generous and make sure everywhere gets some coverage.” 
  3. Finally, allow the spoon to dry. Let the oiled wooden spoon dry for 12 hours, giving the oil time to seep into the grain. After 12 hours, if there is still some oil or residue, wipe off the excess with a soft cloth or leave the wooden spoon to continue drying in a well-ventilated spot. 

Shields agrees that oiling wooden spoons regularly (about once a month, for example) is a great way to prolong their life. “By doing this routine periodically, you’re essentially providing your wooden utensils with a shield against drying and cracking,” she says.

When to Replace Wooden Spoons

When the wood begins to develop cracks or nicks, these compromised areas are nearly impossible to clean thoroughly and they become the perfect spot for bacteria to hide. 

“Be reconciled to the fact that wooden spoons have a shelf life — tiny cracks in the wood can allow bacteria in over time,” says Sean McGrath of Cleaning Technique. Replace your wooden spoons every five years or when you notice signs of irreversible damage, such as cracks, or if the spoons take too long to dry after washing.  

Wooden Spoon Dos and Don’ts

When in doubt, keep these tips in mind to prolong the life of your wooden spoons.

Wooden Spoon Don’ts 

  • Do not submerge in water.
  • Do not soak in water.
  • Do not clean by boiling.
  • Do not wash in the dishwasher. 
  • Do not allow the wood to dry out.

Wooden Spoon Dos 

  • Do rinse immediately after use. 
  • Do keep out of direct sunlight to prevent drying and potential cracks. 
  • Do minimize using the spoon with acidic foods, which can damage the spoon’s finish.
  • Do avoid metal scrubbers or other abrasive tools. 
  • Do store separately from metal utensils and tools to help prevent nicks and scratches. 
  • Do oil wooden spoons monthly to prevent cracking.