tastings and testings

Can You Clean Wooden Spoons in the Dishwasher?

Who knew this question would be so divisive? People fall into two camps: definitely or absolutely not.

Published May 14, 2020.

We asked readers and staffers whether they washed wooden spoons in the dishwasher or by hand—and ignited a real controversy. So we decided to do both and compare the results: Throughout our testing of 13 wooden spoons, we washed them all by hand with a sponge and hot, soapy water. Then, as a final test, we ran them all through a normal dishwasher cycle 10 times. Here’s what we learned.

  • Spoons clearly stayed closer to their original like-new condition when they were washed by hand.
  • After 10 trips through the dishwasher, most spoons looked bleached and felt as dry as driftwood.
  • Any spoons with a shellac-like finish lost most of it after about five dishwasher cycles.
  • If the spoons had been stained with food or had retained odors, the dishwasher cleaned and deodorized them within a cycle or two, while hand-washing didn’t do as thorough a job.

Our takeaways:

  • Wash your wooden spoon by hand if you want to prolong its lifespan.
  • Don’t leave a wooden spoon soaking in water. Because wood absorbs water, repeated swelling and shrinking as the wood dries will encourage cracks to form.
  • To remove lingering odors, wash a wooden spoon with hot, soapy water; scrub it with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water; and rinse it well. In a pinch, run it through the dishwasher once.  
  • To restore the finish and condition of a wooden spoon (as well as a cutting board or a wood-handled knife), try our DIY “spoon butter” made of beeswax and mineral oil. In our tests, wooden tools and boards treated with spoon butter retained some protective coating longer than tools treated with mineral oil alone.


This is a members' feature.