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Is Boiling Wooden Spoons A Good Way To Clean Them?

Pouring boiling water from a tea kettle onto a wooden spoon in a glass jar, woman looking quizzically at a wooden spoon.

I’m always interested in learning about the latest cleaning trends on social media, and I recently came across one on TikTok involving boiling wooden spoons as a method of cleaning them.

These videos typically show people placing their wooden spoons in boiling water for long enough that the formerly clear water becomes clouded by a nasty layer of grease and grime. And to be fair, that nasty layer of grease does look pretty gross!

But wooden spoons aren’t among my top 20 must-have kitchen tools for nothing, so I resolved to investigate this hack to find out if wooden spoons really harbor as much gunk as the videos seem to suggest. After all, the idea of rancid oils lurking inside my wooden spoons and getting into my food isn’t a pleasant one!

A wooden spoon in a tall jar of boiling water.

What Happens When You Boil A Wooden Spoon?

When you put a wooden utensil in boiling water, the wood expands in the hot water, leaching out any oils trapped inside and allowing them to float to the surface. But it wouldn’t just be old cooking oil or grease coming out of the spoon — any conditioning oils or protective waxes would also leach out and float to the surface.

The problem with framing this as a method for cleaning wooden spoons is that wood needs moisture to prevent it from drying out and splitting. A few minutes in boiling water is enough to sap wood of its moisture and oils, and if you simply dried off your spoon and put it away afterward, it would likely split or crack in the not-too-distant future.

(That doesn’t necessarily mean attempting to boil wooden spoons is totally without merit, but we’ll get to that shortly!)

A woman wondering if she should boil wooden utensils.

How To Clean And Care For Wooden Utensils

Did you know that wood has natural antibacterial properties? So unless your wooden spoons, cutting boards, and other kitchen items have absorbed odors or stains, you don’t need to do much to keep them clean and free of bacteria. Just wash your wooden kitchen items regularly with warm water and soap, then treat them with a food-grade wood conditioner or mineral oil to protect the wood.

Boiling would certainly sterilize a wooden spoon, but even still, it’s probably not something you’d want to do often. In fact, dishwasher manufacturers advise against putting wooden utensils in your dishwasher for the same reason — frequent exposure to high heat or hot water can cause wood to crack or split.

Pouring boiling water from a teakettle onto a wooden spoon in a glass jar.

Boiling Wooden Spoons To Deep Clean Them

If you were going to use this hack of boiling wooden spoons, I’d say it’s best to do it as a one-off deep cleaning treatment. If your wooden spoons are really grimy, or you just picked one up at a yard sale or thrift store, boiling them for a minute or two to remove any rancid oil or bacteria lurking inside could be a great idea.

Before and after photos of a wooden spoon that was boiled. The boiled spoon is a bit cleaner looking.

Just be sure to take the time to replace the oils you remove with clean, fresh oil afterward! My DIY spoon butter is a great option for conditioning wooden spoons and other wood kitchen items. It’s all-natural, flavor-neutral, and super easy to make!

(One last thing: I’m not ready to take on TikTok just yet, but I’m always sharing tips on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to give me a follow if you haven’t already done so!)

Would you boil your wooden spoons?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • I’m curious if this so-called hack came from the trick we home cooks probably learned from our mothers or grandmothers. To prevent a pot of water from boiling over the rim of your pot, place a wooden spoon on top. I have no idea why this works, but it does each and every time.

  • I never use wooden spoons when mixing or turning greasy hot foods. I use a metal whisk or metal spatula or spoon that is covered with a something that can go into the dishwasher, such as a heavy duty plastic. The wooden spoons I use for cool foods such as salads. I let people add their own salad dressing. I never add a salad dressing to the salad as if there are left overs, they are unusable the next day, due to the salad soaking in that dressing over night and turning the greens soggy.

  • Is cleaning and oiling wooden spoons really a thing? I’ve never done anything to my wooden spoons except wash and dry them well and put them away. A few have cracked over the years but most are decades old and still in use. Sure they’re not as pretty as oiled spoons, but that’s not their purpose in my house.

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