How to care for your wooden utensils

Properly cared for, wooden kitchen utensils can last a lifetime.

The things that matter to us need care and maintenance, whether it’s a ’68 Ford Mustang, your grandmother’s cast iron skillet, or the relationship with your partner. Fortunately for us, you need not have a toolbox full of wrenches and a garage to care for wooden kitchen utensils. In fact, you only need to do three things: Keep them clean, dry, and oiled.

Keep them clean and dry

To be clear: you don’t have to baby your wooden ware – it’s made to be used. You don’t want to leave them to sit overnight with caked on gunk. Instead, hand wash them with hot soapy water and a sponge, using a scrubby pad or steel wool for the particularly tenacious gunk.

Never put your good wooden ware in the dishwasher, never leave them to soak in dishwater, and after you clean them, wipe them down so they can dry.

After cleaning them, wipe them down with a dishtowel and allow them to dry. The single biggest threat to the life of your spoons is their being repeatedly soaked and dried. After they are fully dry, put them away, preferably someplace where air can circulate around them, such as a crock on your counter.

Keep them oiled

When a tree is cut down, as much as 40% of its weight can be water. By the time we use it to make a spoon for your kitchen, that number is more like 12%. It wants to rehydrate with water, but that is bad for the longevity of the spoon, so periodically, you need to rehydrate it with oil.

You can use any food grade oil, such as walnut oil, mineral oil, or even vegetable oil, but know that food based oils tend to go rancid after a time. If you are using your utensils every day, this isn’t a concern, but we generally recommend mineral oil as it is inexpensive, commonly available, and non-allergenic. The wood conditioner we apply in the shop is a mixture of mineral oil for hydration, lemon oil for its anti-microbial properties, and beeswax for protection.

Every six months or so, burnish your spoon with fine steel wool and then apply a generous coating of oil or wood conditioner. Allow it to sit overnight and then wipe it down and put it back wherever you store it.