Photo: By schab (Shutterstock)
TikTok is inundated with cleaning hacksbut not all of them are tried and true. For example, a viral hack involves boiling your wooden spoons to keep them clean … but you really shouldn’t be bothered about it. This is why you shouldn’t boil your wooden spoons.
Why do people even cook their wooden spoons?
TikToker Bonnie McNamara posted a video showing that wooden spoons are dirty. On the page with the title Miss.Clean.With.Me, McNamara pours boiling water into a tall glass. Then she puts a wooden spoon in the jar and lets it sit, and immediately you can see the bubbles start forming. The glass is soon filled with cloudy water and leftover food.
We asked our Senior Health Editor, Beth Skwareckiwhen boiling wooden spoons are necessary. “From a food safety point of view, it is sufficient to wash with soap and water and let it dry,” she said. “And the same is true]for cutting boards.”
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All recipes seems to agree and states that wood “is naturally endowed with more antibacterial properties than any synthetic object, as trees have the innate ability to fight off infection, bacteria and mold, and wood retains these properties even after death.”
So what happens when you cook your wooden utensils?
We decided to test the theory with Lifehacker’s Senior Food Editor. Claire Lower. Claire used a spoon she’s had for years as her special pasta spoon (meaning it could trap a lot of tomato sauce and pasta particles in it). When the spoon was soaked, Lower noticed the same bubbles that were seen in the TikTok video. But that response is to a process called. traced back Nucleationwhere microscopic points of contact cause bubbles. In this case, the spoon with the hot water was the trigger. After leaving the spoon in for about 20 minutes, Lower noticed that the color of the water was turning brown, but there was no leftover food or debris floating around.
Photo: Claire Lower
Lower mentions that she smells a strong garlic aroma from the cup and less from the spoon, which leads her to believe that the process removed some of the long-lasting garlic odor from the spoon, but notes that this is not a proven method of cleaning up Wooden utensils is:
I wouldn’t recommend doing this often unless you have a very smelly spoon. Soaking wood in water is a big no. You will dry it out and it might crack. Much like a cast iron pan, you’ll want to build up a little fat there to protect the wood. It’s good! Simply wash with soapy water after each use and you will not get sick.
How to properly clean and treat a wooden spoon
The best way to wash your spoon with soap and water after each use, as Lower explained. Make sure you let the spoon air dry to avoid cracking. Also, never put wooden utensils in the dishwasher as this can wear out and crack your wooden utensils.
Next, you’ll want to treat the spoon with oil. All recipes recommend mineral oil or “walnut, tung or linseed oil”. If stubborn food debris builds up on your spoon, you can give it overnight Soak equal parts white vinegar and water to disinfect the spoon and effectively remove adhering residues.