How to Clean Wooden Spoons

Updated: Nov. 29, 2023

Sure, wooden spoons are kitchen staples. But frequent use results in a lot of wear and tear! Learn our best tips and tricks for how to clean a wooden spoon.

Your trusty wooden spoon is a must-have, and for good reason. It won’t scratch surfaces, leach chemicals or conduct heat, meaning it never melts. In fact, our Test Kitchen staff swears by wooden spoons! See what other kitchen gadgets they recommend, too.

Because wooden spoons are so versatile, frequent use can result in a lot of wear and tear. When that spoon is looking worse for wear, you might be tempted to toss it—but you don’t have to. In fact, you can bring it back to life using some simple tricks.

Benefits of Wooden Utensils

There are many benefits to using wooden utensils. Practically speaking, wooden utensils won’t damage your nonstick pans. They also don’t take the seasoning off your cast-iron skillets. They’re heat resistant, so they won’t get hot like metal utensils. Finally, they’re naturally anti-bacterial, making them safe tools to use.

Wooden utensils also have a history within them. Whetstone Woodenware of Silver Lake, IN, who makes all of their products in-house, believes that wood has a story. Most of their kitchenware is made of hard maple, and maple trees live up to 100 years on average! From tree to spoon, there’s a history that can make your kitchen feel more ancestral, especially when making recipes that have been passed down through generations.

Best Types of Wood for Utensils

Wooden cutlery kitchen wareAlmaje/Getty Images

Hardwoods make for the most sturdy kitchenware. These include the tried and true maple trees, but also oak, birch and walnut. These types of trees are usually deciduous trees, which means they lose their leaves in the fall.

How to Clean a Wooden Spoon

Wash by hand

Soon after you cook with your wooden spoon, wash it with warm, soapy water to prevent any stains from setting. Pat the spoon dry with a towel and then let it thoroughly air dry before putting it away. Never let a wooden spoon sit in water for too long because the wood will absorb the water, expand and then contract as it dries, which can result in cracks.

Also, never put your wooden spoons in the dishwasher! The steam and dry cycle can crack the wood. Once your spoon splinters, cracks or frays, it’s time to toss it. Bacteria (and smells) can get stuck in the cracks.

Speaking of bacteria, check out the places in your home that are covered with germs.

Scrub stains away

lemon and salt on a wooden cutting board with a knife and wooden spoon in the backgroundMaxCab/getty images

If your spoons are stained and soapy water isn’t cutting it, it’s time to grab some kitchen essentials to get them looking new. After washing with soapy water, pour salt onto the spoon and scrub it with a halved lemon. Not only will this combo remove stubborn stains, it’ll keep things smelling fresh. Rinse with cool water and dry.

If things are still smelly, create a paste of baking soda and water, and then scrub that in with a halved lemon. Baking soda is great at neutralizing organic acids. That’s why we love cleaning with baking soda!

Remember, if your spoons are stained, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dirty. Even stubborn food stains, like those from tomato sauce or turmeric, will eventually fade over time.

Sand and reseason

Wooden cooking spoon on wood backgroundTogapix/Getty Images

If all else fails, use sandpaper to lightly scrub away the dirty layer of wood. You’ll need to reseason the spoon before using it again. To reseason, preheat your oven to 350°F. Wipe the spoon with a neutral oil (like grapeseed or mineral oil) and place in the oven for two to three minutes.

It’s a good idea to periodically condition your wooden spoons with oil to help them last longer. Even quickly rubbing them with oil and wiping the excess away will help them stay fresh!

What Oil to Use on Wooden Utensils

Neutral oils are the best for your wooden kitchenware. Natural oils, like olive oil or vegetable oil, can sour wooden utensils after being exposed to the air for too long. That’s why you have to check that the oil you use to clean your spoons is a food-safe mineral oil. Mineral oil is odorless and won’t damage the color of your products. It also has a long shelf life.

Up Next: Learn how to clean a wooden cutting board the right way.