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the Ultimate guide to wood utensil care

the best way to clean wood spoons...

We have heard about some seriously crazy ways that people treat their wooden utensils. From not using soap and storing them in plastic bags to putting them in the dishwasher and soaking them in water, we have heard it all over the years at craft shows etc. We not only own WAY too many wooden spoons and use them constantly, but we have run our own tests to see what works the best. Honestly, how you treat your wooden utensils is a function of how you like them to look. Some people like them looking brand new and others like them as beat up as possible.

How do we clean ours? We like ours nice and beat up, but we also like them to last as long as possible. Here are the 5 rules that we follow to take care of our wooden spoons and cutting boards.

Five simple rules for keeping your wooden utensils clean and beautiful for years to come

Follow these five rules when caring for wooden kitchen utensils:

    1. Wash by hand in hot soapy water

    2. Always use the scratchy side of your sponge

    3. Never put them in the dishwasher

    4. Never let them soak in water

    5. Oil liberally when they start to look dry

Following these five rules will keep your utensils bacteria free, colorful, smooth, odor free, stain free, and in one piece.

How to wash wooden utensils (do this every time you use them)

video transcript

We get asked all the time what the best way to care for wooden kitchen utensils is. And we hear some pretty crazy ideas out there, but there is one way that we suggest. It's simple, you just wash your kitchen utensils with hot soapy water, and use the scratchy side of your sponge. You do that, set them on a towel or somewhere, let them dry out and they will give you years of great use. The only other thing you need to know, is never put them in the dishwasher. We've tested some pieces of wood in the dishwasher, and we've run them up to like 20 times. And we didn't have any crack, we didn't have any warp, but once we pulled them out of the dishwasher, we could barely tell them apart. Even these really colorful woods that we use, we couldn't even tell which one was which. So if you want them to look good, hot soapy water and the scratchy side of your sponge.

Why do my utensils feel rough and fuzzy? (there's a reason and a simple solution)

video transcript

So you are wondering why your utensils look a little bit fuzzy? There is a reason for that and it's easy to fix. You probably had a new utensil, that had oil on it from here at Earlywood then you used it a few times, and that oil started to wear off and you got some water down in the pores of the wood. When that happens, they soak up that water and then when that dries out, the grain just stands up a little bit, so it's actually not fuzz it is raised grain. The way to take care of that, is to take the little woodcare package that we gave you with your order and read the back of it. It basically says, when you get that raised grain, you pull out this little chunk of scotch-brite we gave you. This is extra fine scotch-brite which is just the right grit for wood utensils. You can't scratch your utensils with this no matter what. And take the whole utensil, rub this over the entire utensil when its nice and dry and you have that raised grain on there, give it a blow and blow it off. Ideally, put a little bit of oil on it, if you don't have any oil, you can get some on the site or you can just put a little olive oil or something like that on there. Olive oil is not the best oil for all kitchen utensils, but something you are going to be washing all the time it's just fine for. Let it dry, hit it with this, blow it off, maybe oil it, maybe not. That fuzz should never come back.

How to oil wooden utensils (do this whenever they start to look dry)

Thank goodness, this part isn't rocket science. If they look dry... they need some oil. Follow these 5 simple steps to make your old wooden spoons and spatulas look brand new again.

  1. Make sure your utensils are 100% dry
  2. Lather them in as much oil as they will absorb
  3. Let them sit overnight
  4. Wipe off any extra
  5. Repeat any time they look like they need it

video transcript

What I've got laying here is a three large flat sautes. We've got one jatoba, one mexican ebony and one bloodwood. None of these have been oiled for probably a solid year and these are my own utensils and I treat them as hard and as badly as I can just to see if they can take it. I don't expect yours to look this bad because I treat mine horribly (laughs), but what I'm gonna do here is oil one of these up. Probably this Mexican ebony right here and I'm gonna use this little guy which is a little chunk of scotch-brite that came with your order.

It says woodcare on the front and it actually has the instructions for taking care of it on the back. It's actually no different than the green side of a regular kitchen sponge so if you lost this or threw it away or already used it you can always use the back side. And it's a good idea to always use the back side of your sponge when you're washing these anyways because what it does is it constantly just takes off the tiniest little layer of material there and there's no stain or anything on these they're this color all the way through. So if you're constantly taking off a layer you're just constantly exposing a brand-new layer of wood so it'll keep them looking great for years.

So what you want to do is start with a dry utensil if it's not dry let it sit out overnight or so and take this scotch-brite and just rub it as hard as you can. In the direction of the grain is the best way to do it. Yeah if there's any little fuzz on the utensil or whatnot this will take it right off and get it feeling nice and smooth. You might get some sawdust coming off of there it's basically kind of just like a piece of sandpaper that's really fine grit so we'll get both ends of it and then I'm gonna get the edges too. You can see the dust landing on the table there that's normal so then you want to just clean all that dust off of there. I got a bunch on the table.

You're gonna want to take your wood oil which is all food-safe mineral oil with a little bit of lemon peel oil in there to make it smell good and I just pour it right on there. And I am working it in with my fingers and this stuff never dries and never forms of coatings. So you want to get as much as you can on there and leave it on there as long as you can to get everything soaked in that you can. What the oil does is just a it makes it look better as you can see already but the most important thing about oiling wood is wood oil repels water and it's the soaking up and drying out of water that wrecks wooden utensils. Just like it does on a street you know when like a street soaks up water and ices over and then thaws out it will crack a street. It will do the same thing to wood so the best thing to do here is get as much oil on it as you can and let it sit there hopefully overnight. And that's pretty much the best thing to do, if it's really dry you'll come back in the morning and there you won't see any of this shiny liquid anymore that means it all soaked in because it doesn't dry. For this case, I'm just gonna go ahead and dry this off and if you just want them to look better for a party or something just throw a little on there let it sit for just a second and wipe it off and that's all it takes. She's totally done, you can see it pretty much looks exactly like a new one.

When you think your utensils are beyond repair...

We all probably treat our wooden utensils worse than we should. Hey, life is busy and we know that! If you have totally slacked on your oiling regimen and your utensils are looking like they're ready to retire, they may still have some good life in them. A little sandpaper and some elbow grease can make all the difference. See below for some tips on rejuvenating neglected wood utensils.

The thing about treating wooden bowls...

Wood bowls are unique for a number of reasons. There's a lot of wood in them and they combine a combination of edge grain, face grain and end grain, all in the same piece. These different grain orientations react differently when they get wet. The swelling (when wet) and shrinking (when dry) cause forces within the wood grain that if left untreated, can crack. It's not unheard of for a wooden bowl to snap, crackle, pop while sitting on a counter. Putting in a little extra effort to keep your wood bowls oiled and waxed will give you decades of crack free use. It's actually easy, just check out the video below for the details.

Get the supplies you need...

Looking for some good wood utensil oil or wood wax?
• Check out our Earlywood Oil and our Wood Wax. They work excellent on all wood utensils and keep them looking great and working great for decades!

butcher block oil

wood wax

Where to learn more...

So there you have it. The ultimate guide to taking care of your wooden spoons, spatulas, and bowls. If you would like to check out more helpful videos from Earlywood, consider following us over at Youtube. We sincerely hope this helps!