Should You Boil Your Wooden Spoons to Clean Them?

There are some things people go their whole lives not knowing how to clean, or simply forgetting to clean. When’s the last time you cleaned your ceiling fan, or the inside of your toilet tank, for example? Ignorance can be bliss, but thanks to all of those TikTok cleaning videos (#CleanTok, anyone?) that are taking over our feeds, many of us are continually learning some pretty life-changing cleaning hacks, the latest of which involves that handy kitchen utensil: the wooden spoon.

Collection of wooden spoons and utensils with blue textured photo treatment

ATU Images / Getty Images | Design: Better Homes & Gardens

The latest TikTok trend involves dipping your spoons into boiling water to better clean them. Users like @itsnicolejaques and @jessicahaizman recommend this hack to their followers as a way to suck out the lingering dirt, grime, and grease that your wooden spoons may be harboring for a deeper clean. The videos they’re posting of the process literally show the clean water turn from clear to brown right before your eyes as the wooden spoons sit in the boiling water. It’s seriously disgusting, but it’s obviously pretty satisfying, too, in the same way laundry stripping is.

The Right Way to Clean Wooden Spoons 

Wooden kitchen items and utensils should never go into the dishwasher (hence the need to find other ways to thoroughly clean them). Instead, experts recommend hand-washing your wooden spoons, using a mild soap (chemical soaps can break down the material of the spoon) and warm water. Always allow your spoons to air dry. Dishwashers emit extreme heat when drying that can warp the wood. That, paired with the pressurized water of the dishwasher, will cause your wooden spoons to fall apart more rapidly over time. 

If extreme temperatures harm wood, then why are people suggesting to place spoons in boiling water on TikTok? While doing so will help remove the grime, cooking dirt, and who-knows-what-else in the grain of your wooden spoons, it will also damage the spoon.

Putting boiling water on anything is a good way to sanitize it, but repeatedly boiling your spoons or boiling them too often can strip the wood or warp it in some way, so you don’t want to overdo it (unless you’re OK buying replacements). The wooden spoon boiling method is only recommended to do about once a month, depending on how often you cook with them, whether you use them to stir raw meet or just veggies, and other factors.

What Does Boiling Wooden Spoons Do?

Because wood is so porous, it absorbs a lot more of the grease and food particles you’re cooking with over time. The boiling water allows some of that gunk to come out during the soak, which is the main purpose of this cleaning method. You should stick to the warm water and gentle soap method for everyday cleaning. 

If you’re not routinely cooking with wooden utensils, you can space out the boiling method even longer. After you remove the spoons from the boiling water, you can finish off the task with a quick mild soap wash just to be sure. Some people even seal their wooden utensils and cutting boards with a conditioning oil to keep them in top shape for years to come. A bottle of wood conditioning oil will typically cost you less than $10 and can help avoid cracks in your spoons and wood splitting over time.

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