Why You Shouldn’t Really Boil Wooden Spoons

TikTok crowded hacks for cleaning , but not all of them are tested and true. For example, one viral trick is to boil your wooden spoons to keep them clean … but you really don’t need to worry. This is why you shouldn’t boil wooden spoons.

Why do people boil their wooden spoons first?

Bonnie McNamara posted a video on TikToker showing that wooden spoons are dirt. On a page titled Miss.Clean.With.Me, McNamara pours boiling water into a tall glass. Then she puts the wooden spoon in the glass and lets it sit, and you can immediately see the bubbles begin to form. Soon the glass is filled with cloudy water and food scraps.

We asked our senior health editor , Beth Skoreki , if boiled wooden spoons are needed . “From a food safety point of view, it is enough to wash with soap and water and let it dry,” she said. “And the same thing] for the cutting boards.”

All Recipes seem to agree that wood “is naturally more antibacterial than any synthetic object, because trees have an innate ability to fight infections, bacteria and mold, and wood retains these properties even after death.”

So what happens when you boil wooden utensils?

We decided to test the theory with Lifehacker Senior Food Editor Claire Lower . Claire used the spoon she had owned for many years as a special spoon for pasta (which means there could be a lot of tomato sauce and pasta particles left inside). As the spoon got wet, Lower noticed the same bubbles as in the TikTok video. But this reaction is due to a process called nucleation , in which microscopic touch points cause bubbles to appear. In this case, the trigger was a spoon filled with hot water. After leaving the spoon for 20 minutes, Lower noticed that the water had turned brown, but there were no food particles or clumps around.

The aforementioned strong garlic scent from the cup and, to a lesser extent, the spoon led her to believe that this process removed some of the persistent garlic odor from the spoon, but notes that this is not best practice for cleaning wooden utensils:

I would not recommend doing this often unless you have a very smelly spoon. Soaking wood in water is a big ban. You dry it out and it may crack. As with a cast iron skillet, you need to put some grease on it to protect the wood. Everything is fine! Just wash your face with soapy water after each use and you won’t get sick.

How to properly clean and handle a wooden spoon

As Lower explained, it’s best to wash the spoon with soap and water after each use. Be sure to air dry the spoon to avoid cracking. Also, never put wooden dishes in the dishwasher, as they can wear out and chip your wooden dishes.

Next, you will need to oil the spoon. All Recipes recommends mineral oil or “nut, tung, or flaxseed oil.” If the spoon has accumulated solid food debris, you can soak it overnight in equal parts white vinegar and water to disinfect the spoon and effectively get rid of the stuck-on residues.

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