How to Make Your Wooden Kitchen Tools Last

With these tips, your favorite wooden utensils will last for years to come.

Published Aug. 24, 2023.

Some of our favorite kitchen tools are made from wood: heavy-duty cutting boards, carving boards, wooden spoons, rolling pins, and baking peels, and even some of our favorite knives have wooden handles. We’ve reviewed hundreds of wooden products and stocked the test kitchen (and many of our home kitchens) with our favorite wooden tools for years, so we know how best to care for them.

If wooden tools are allowed to absorb water, they can warp or split, so they need a little extra care. So before we get into specific suggestions for each type of tool, let’s talk about some general guidelines that apply to all wooden kitchen tools.

  1. Never soak or immerse wood in water. 
  2. After you wash your wooden kitchen tools with soap and hot water, don’t let them drip dry. Use a cloth to dry them immediately and thoroughly.
  3. Store them in a spot with good air circulation to promote faster drying.
  4. If your tools are made from unvarnished wood, rub them with food-safe mineral oil whenever you notice them getting dry (or more often, if you like). This protects the wood and will keep your tools lasting longer. My colleague Lisa McManus compares wood, a natural material, to our skin. It too needs moisturizer to protect it and keep it from drying out.
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How to Care for Wooden Cutting Boards and Carving Boards

Moisture is the enemy of wooden cutting boards, explains my colleague Miye Bromberg in this thorough article about caring for your wooden cutting board. The most important thing you can do to prevent splitting or cracking your board is to keep water from soaking into the board. (See the four tips above.) Use spoon butter or board cream, a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil that can be either made or purchased, to season your board. This will help build a water-repellant layer of protection.

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It’s tempting to throw your wooden spoons in the dishwasher, but we urge you not to. We learned while cleaning wooden spoons that the dishwasher shortens their lifespan. Just 10 trips through the dishwasher left spoons looking bleached and dry. To help your spoons last longer, wash them by hand.

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A simple quick wash with soap and water will do just fine when cleaning your rolling pin or baking peel. Be sure to dry them both immediately and thoroughly. If you notice either one really drying out over time, add a small amount of food-grade mineral oil. Don’t use too much because a slick rolling pin or baking peel won’t be as effective as one with a bit of texture. Slightly rough wood holds a coating of flour well, which is important in both rolling and transferring dough. We also don’t want our rolling pins or baking peels to be so dry that they crack. In this case, find a happy medium between hydrated and overly dry.

How to Care for Knives with Wooden Handles

Not only will throwing your wooden-handled knives in the dishwasher dull the blades more quickly, but it will also dry out the handles faster. Wash them by hand instead. Dry the handles immediately after washing, and if you notice them getting dry, apply food-safe mineral oil.

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