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Wooden Spoons - Dishwasher or not?

I've been hand-washing my wooden utensils for years. A friend recently told me she always puts hers in the dishwasher. I thought that was a no-no! Anyone have a good reason for not putting mine in the dishwasher?

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  1. No wood in the dishwasher, ever.

    1. If they're good ones, I wouldn't. I buy cheap wooden spoons and throw them into the dishwasher, replacing them when they start to splinter. I've never noticed any off flavors or other issues.

      3 Replies
      1. re: coney with everything

        that's exactly how I see it. I have lots of cheap wooden spoons and they are fine in the DW; eventually they splinter a bit, but at $1 a piece who cares.

        1. re: DGresh

          I use antique hardwood wooden spoons, and never put them in the dishwasher. I dislike the flimsy pine wooden spoons, especially when they begin to splinter, so I stick with my hardwood spoons.

          If the OP buys olivewood or other hardwood wooden spoons, I wouldn't put them in the dishwasher either. A quick scrub with a scrub brush gets them clean and then they either drip-dry on a kitchen towel or get dried off and put away.

        2. re: coney with everything

          +1...I throw mine in the dishwasher, and I replace them often....I get them at the Dollar Store:) Works fine.

        3. I've been putting my wooden spoons in the dishwasher, and nothing bad has happened to them. They don't splinter (at least, they haven't yet).

          6 Replies
          1. re: small h

            Me, too, for years and years. Some inexpensive ones in perfect condition I recall having bought over 30 years ago while in college.

            1. re: mcf

              Absolutely, in the dishwasher every time, for (literally) decades. They have not splintered at all, though a couple of the ones with long thin handles have acquired a slight twist along their length which actually adds character as far as I'm concerned.

              Some people are just too darned OCD about what does (or doesn't) go into the dishwasher. But hey, as long as they don't ask me to hand-wash their spoons for them I don't really care.

              In this house there are three (and only three) categories of items that don't go into the dishwasher: Carbon steel knives, the grinding discs from my meat grinder, and non-stick cookware. That's it.

              1. re: BobB

                I place my non-stick cookware (along w/the cheap wooden spoons) in the dishwasher and replace when necessary.

                1. re: OCAnn

                  Ah, but I have a set of non-stick cookware that has, miraculously, lasted close to a decade while remaining very nearly as perfect as the day I bought it.

                  After seeing many, many non-stick pieces from cheap (T-fal) to expensive (Le Creuset) last a few years and then deteriorate, the longevity of this set is incredibly impressive. As such it's worth a little extra care.

                  1. re: BobB

                    Ooh...a decade is indeed a very long time for nonstick! What brand, please? I'd like to get a set. =)

                    1. re: OCAnn

                      Dansk Master Series, made in China (!). I got them from a Dansk outlet store back then - I don't think those stores even exist any more, but there must be some place that sells them.

                      They're made of heavy anodized aluminum with a gunmetal grey exterior and non-stick interior coating. The set comprises two frying pans, two sauce pans, sauté pan and stock pot. They all have brushed aluminum heat-resistant handles and tight-fitting brushed aluminum lids. Granted, I've treated them well - no super-high-heat cooking, no metal utensils, hand wash, cool before washing - but even so their longevity has been astounding. Except for minor external staining they look as good as new!

          2. If they are good and you want to protect then jfood would not place in the DW.

            Jfood has a set of Galloping Gourmet Spurtles in 1978 that have been through the DW hundreds of times with no ill-effects.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              Yes, a spurtle! I have one, but would never put it in the dishwasher. I got mine way back when, too.

            2. the ones that are 4 for a $1 go in the dishwasher and last for years although sometimes they bend.
              My beautiful olive wood salad servers from Italy are wiped and then smeared with olive oil. I don't even wash them.

              1. I don't, even the cheap ones. Why intentionally shorten their lives? It is easy enough to wash them off by hand along with my knives and other non-dishwasherable items.

                1. The pampered chef ones I got for Christmas explicitly say "Dishwasher Safe". Technically they are bamboo though, I think?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ktb615

                    I don't have the Pampered Chef spoons, but I have other bamboo utensils that I have bought at Cost Plus and Target. They are a good compromise between the beautiful and expensive hardwood utensils that need special care and the cheap lightweight woods.

                    Bamboo can go in the dishwasher without much damage for a long time. They are inexpensive enough to replace after a few years if you think you they are showing wear.

                    Bamboo is also a sustainable raw material.

                  2. i've heard of fires being started in dishwashers from a wooden spoon getting kicked out of the dish rack and coming to rest on the heating element on the bottom.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                      I have a Bosch which doesn't have a heating element, but that is a good point.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        wouldn't the fire be immediately put out by the presence of all that water?

                        1. re: StrawbrryF

                          Not if the spoon fell again the heating element during the drying stage.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              That exact thing happened to me, and burned through the handle of a thin spoon. It didn't start a fire as far as I know, but that's the last time I try that.

                              Similar thing happened with a cheap long-handled tablespoon measure. That one put a permanent plastic scorch on the bottom of the dishwasher, and created the most gawdawful smell for almost a month every time I ran it.

                              Another reason not to put plastic into it: I was once washing a large-ish plastic mixing bowl that came loose during a rinse, I assume, and got flung up against the hinge at the bottom, where it somehow created a funnel. I came home to gallon after gallon of water on the floor. That was an almost-cataclysm.

                              Today, nothing but stoneware, ceramic, glass and stainless goes into mine.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I don't use the drying stage to save energy.

                          1. re: ScubaSteve

                            kittybutt, oops, sorry, scubasteve, why did you have to put that image in my head of a burning wooden spoon in the dishwasher? now i have another thing to worry about.

                            since you like the kb, i'd recommend this t-shirt. http://www.thegrooveshack.com/Merchan...
                            i got one from my sister. it may be too effeminate for you, but it's funny. sista-kat, take note! ;-).

                          2. I put them in the DW, especially after using one to make something like tomato sauce. I find that hand washing them does not clean them well enough.

                            1. I appreciate all the replies CHs! I think I'm going to stick with my hand-washing. I don't buy the $1 specials and I've only had one spoon split in all the years I've been using wooden utensils. I usually wash them with my pots/pans/knives, etc. that I never put in the dishwasher, so it's really no big deal to continue what I've been doing. Thanks, again, for the responses!

                              1. There's a very good safety reason not to put wooden spoons in the DW. The (all too many) times my wife forgets and puts them in there has often resulted in them getting knocked to the bottom and resting on the heating element. I've got numerous spoons with scorch marks. Most unnerving is the one that had burned 1/4 of the way through. I'm not sure that it would have started a fire in the wet environment of the DW, but best not to test it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JohnE O

                                  That may be particular to your dishwasher; it's never happened to me in decades. I do have one charred wooden spoon, but that was too close to the stove.

                                2. I still have the very distinct smell of burned wood in my head after my ex boyfriend put my salad bowls in the dishwasher. I haven't owned a wood utensil or bowl since then.

                                  1. Home dishwasher fires, wooden and plastic spoons etc------------>

                                    Special note to alkapal---->Read on and fear not!

                                    We just bought 3 inexpensive bamboo wood utensils. I then went looking for the answer to the question that is the subject of this thread. Nice job Chow Hounds!

                                    I can add that my wife tells me she has put wooden spoons, etc in the dishwasher for 40 years without any "damage" to any wooden utensils. (Who knew--apparently not me!)

                                    As I understand it the average traditional style unit has a large exposed heating ring element at the bottom of the unit. It has two purposes.....

                                    One is to heat the water to a high enough temperature to sterilize the utensils being washed. At this point the heater is "underwater". (That pause in operation between the end of the fill, and beginning of operation is the water heat cycle.) This is an important cycle.

                                    The other purpose is to dry the utensils and dishes when the rinse cycle is complete, so you have dishes quickly ready for reuse, or putting away. (Some units have fans that blow around the hot air generated.)

                                    Patience, patience Chow Hounds....Yes plastic and wooden utensils that fall onto this open heating element during any operating cycle will get "cooked", and perhaps even cause a fire during the Drying Cycle. Not to mention those lingering bad smells.

                                    For 40 years now we have simply turned OFF the Heated Drying Cycle which most washer controls provide you the ability to do. Operating in this mode, once the complete cycle is finished prop the dishwasher door open with a dishtowel and let the natural "drying cycle" take over. For faster results open the door fully and pull out the racks and let the contents dry.

                                    Bonus: You will save electricity. Heating or drying anything using electricity is expensive. (That's why we initially did this.)

                                    And who knows, you might also save a plastic or wooden spoon/utensil from slow death by incineration and save a tree too.....well, part of a tree or a few ounces of plastic resin all of which comes from oil! Not to mention a potential visit from the local fire department if you leave the house during a cycle and have a central alarm fire detection system designed to go off when smoke, or other related burning compounds are detected. Now that could be really ugly!

                                    Hardly worth the mention is protection of your wooden and plastic utensils from dying a slow death from repeated high heat drying!

                                    Bye, bye...........RichJ

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Acornhil

                                      The no-wood-in-the-DW lesson for me brought with it another important one: don't leave the DW running in an empty house! There is nothing quite like pulling into your driveway and seeing smoke coming out the kitchen window... if I'd been home I would've caught it before it became a disaster. I kind of wonder why manufacturers don't put an automatic shut-off in a machine - or is there such a thing and I just don't know about it?

                                      1. re: elenacampana

                                        My brother's neighbor lost their house to a clothes dryer fire because they started the dryer and then went to bed. Luckily, nobody was injured but they lost everything. I don't know why it went up so fast. My brother and his family once stayed at my parent's empty house (they were snowbirds) he put a load of towels in the dryer and then left the house. Three weeks later I went to the house and the dryer was still running. Luckily, nothing bad happened. Do you know how much dryer fluff a load of towels puts out after three weeks in a running dryer?

                                      2. re: Acornhil

                                        I'm writing this as a public service! I have had TWO FIRES in my expensive new BOSCH Dishwasher in the last month, and I DO NOT use the heat dry cycle. As for a wet environment, this did not have any effect on the fires; first was a wooden spoon that got knocked out of the utensil tray and somehow landed on the heating coil in the bottom. It took a while to notice the smell since it was contained in the sealed unit, but when we opened it, the smoke poured out and we fished out the spoon which was burned clear through and still smoking. It took about 3 weeks to get the smell out of the dishwasher even tho it was stainless; some of the plastic parts inside held on to the acrid smell. Now just this week (hence me looking up this post!) a huge calphalon plastic serving spoon suffered the same fate, but this time the toxic plastic burning spoon was the worst thing ever. All my white dishes have a burn stain and it's the third day after and I still can't get the smell out of my house. By the time we noticed the smell coming from the unit, it was too late. No more wooden or plastic spoons in the DW for me, this is just awful; I've had dishwashers forever and have never had this happen, faulty design I think. Why would the spoons shoot out of the utensil tray and get knocked to the bottom?? My husband said it's my fault, "operator error", lol...... I just keep thinking of what could have happened if we didn't notice it in time. Nightmare. SOOOO no wood/plastic spoons in DW!!!!! It's not worth it!!!

                                      3. I have always washed my wooden spoons in the dishwasher because my fear is that with wood being porous, that would be the best way to make sure they are sanitized. It never occurred to me that it wouldn't be good for the spoons, but I have never had problems. I put them on the top rack, not the bottom. Don't know if that makes a difference.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                          Wood is naturally anti-bacterial. Can't recall the studies right now, but I know they did it with cutting boards. Better than plastic, especially when the plastic has become etched.

                                          O.K., here's one:
                                          http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fac...

                                          and maybe anti-bacterial is the wrong word, but it's along those lines.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            I've heard that too, but find this interesting:
                                            http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Pdf/cutting_...
                                            I'm not sure I would cut veggies on a wooden board I've used for poultry without a really good cleaning, what with wood being porous and all, but that's just me...

                                            1. re: freia

                                              Of course, I would not cut veggies on a chicken board, the same day. But have no problem doing it 24 hours later.

                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                Yes, I've understood that too, that the antibacterial effects take 24 hours-ish to kick in. I guess its just a GAAAK fear response I have. I know, it probably isn't reasonable, but I'd rather err on the side of safety, which is why I use an plastic cutting board exclusively for chicken. I WAS going to mess with youall and say I used a GLASS cutting board, but I didn't want to reignite WWIII LOLOLOL.
                                                Having said that, I think you still need to clean a wood board after using it, though. As for spoons and all, well, they're relatively inexpensive so depending on what I use them for, into the dishwasher they go! As for my Caesar Salad wood "hands"? I wash, dry and oil them. :)

                                                1. re: freia

                                                  Of course I clean my cutting boards after using them. The problem with my plastic ones are that they have knife cuts in them. In that case, (yes, I should throw them away), I'd use a wooden cutting board over plastic.

                                                  geez, can't believe you even mentioned glass! hahahahaha!

                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                    I know, GLASSSSS!!! The evil part of me wanted to slip that in, but I thought better of it...LOLOLOL *wipes eyes*
                                                    And sorry, I didn't mean to imply you didn't clean your boards (blush), I was just thinking out loud...
                                                    :)

                                                    1. re: freia

                                                      no worries.
                                                      but, glass!!!! tsk tsk.

                                                      wink.

                                          2. I had one fall on the heating element and smolder enough that it actually ruined the heating element. There was no fire to put out, but there was a dishwasher to replace.

                                            1. Not. I don't want to eat the dishwashing chemicals the wood absorbs next time I use them.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                Ugh...never thought of that. What a dilemma...nasty germs vs chemicals.

                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  No different that the bleach you use to clean your wooden cutting board if you use one for poultry/meat? Seems to me the benefits of a good hot wash (aka getting rid of the bulk of the germs) outweighs having to replace a wooden spoon occasionally. I imagine if one is worried about the wooden spoon, you could remove it from the dry cycle, as I think this is where the bulk of the problem would be created?

                                                  1. re: freia

                                                    Unless your water is super heated, it's not going to kill the germs on anything. It's the drying cycle that does that job.
                                                    And I don't worry about wood, anyway.

                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                      I don't think its a matter of super-heated water, its the soap/detergent that you use. Otherwise nothing washed by hand would be clean. Germs essentially die when exposed to air long enough, when detergents/soaps are used on them (hence the golden rule to hand wash), or with a heat cycle. Of course, short of an autoclave, you aren't sterilizing things, and you actually don't really want to do that in any event. A good wash with the appropriate cleaner gets the germs and this can be done in the dishwasher or in the sink. I put wooden implements in the dishwasher and am confident that my detergent used will clean my wooden spoons. And the intense drying cycle can only cause your wooden implements to warp and crack. So if you remove them after washing and before the dishwasher dry cycle, they'll be perfectly fine and clean.

                                                      1. re: freia

                                                        Unless it is a chemical that kills germs/bacteria, soap just reduces water tension so that the water cleans better. (Learned that in servsafe, at cooking school)

                                                      2. re: wyogal

                                                        My dishwasher manual states that the Sani Rinse option raises the temperature of the final rinse to 155 F, which conforms with NSF standard for residential dishwashers. When this option is off, it does not sanitise to NSF standard.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          Yes, and that's why it is called "Sani Rinse" and needs to be turned on as an option. That's what I meant by "superheated."

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            But it's not the drying cycle, it's the final rinse. There is no need to use the dry cycle.

                                                      3. re: freia

                                                        I don't use bleach for anything.

                                                    2. only on chowhound can one get 46 replies for a simple question. LOL.

                                                      virtually guaranteed to amuse!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        And on a question that is just over 2 years old. :-)

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          Gotta love it. :-). I often open threads like this out of curiosity, thinking it can't be that complicated, and end up surprised with the wide range of opinions as well as useful info I learn.

                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                            Exactly. It's what makes Chowhound Chowhound. :-)

                                                        2. I scrub my wooden (and bamboo) spoons, but then place them in the little pouch on the upper level of the dishwasher. Some are over 30 years old, and show no ill effects.

                                                          Hunt

                                                          1. It never wood (ha!) have occurred to me to put wooden utensils into the dishwasher. How long does it take to wash a wooden spoon or turner? I don't want them bleached white and some of them were my mother's.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              How long does it take to wash anything? It's the totallity of it all that makes you need a dishwasher.

                                                              FYI, I dishwash the spoon I lifted from my Mom's house when I moved out circa 1989. Looks the same.

                                                              I don't put cast iron, wine glasses or pewter carolina cups (learned the hard way) in the dishwasher. Everything is fair game.

                                                            2. Nothing with wood in the dishwasher ever. They get really beat up.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                I've been putting wooden spoons in dishwashers for years. No bleaching. No getting really beat up. Some of them are no longer round because I've used them so long that the edge has worn down.

                                                                1. re: 512window

                                                                  same here. i don't put wooden serving spoons (like for my salad set) in the dishwasher, but definitely the cooking spoons.

                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                    Interesting thing -- I never put my salad wooden servers in the dishwasher. I wash by hand, dry and oil regularly. They are now splitting. And they were expensive.
                                                                    I put my cheapo wooden spoons and spatulas in the dishwasher, they're 3 bucks a pop. Never had a single issue with them. Had them over 15 years and they get a workout in the kitchen.
                                                                    Interesting...

                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                      that stinks! dang ungrateful things!

                                                                      were they newer salad servers? the new stuff -- sourced from often less-than-QC places (no names mentioned…but think "melamine") -- is not up to par with the vintage ones, in my experience.

                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                        Nope, these were handcrafted local salad "hands" (not tongs or spoons, but they look like bear paws, for lack of a better term) that I bought along with a handcrafted salad bowl. Maple, apparently. Bought locally at an artisan shop. No melamine involved. I'm not sure what is really going on with them, but they are splitting and they have NEVER seen the inside of a dishwasher. Just a gentle wash, rinse almost, and then oiled and put away for the next great salad use.
                                                                        The cheapo ones are from lands far away and have taken a kicking and keep on ticking so to speak. Those get chucked in the dishwasher all the time, and look great. Except the wooden spatula has a blunted end its been used so much.

                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                          sounds like your artisan didn't do proper drying of the wood when he or she made them. (i know the "claws" of which you speak).

                                                              2. Not only does the decent quality wooden spoon go in but I regularly throw in the cheap wooden rolling pin in as well. Neither one looks the worse for wear - especially the rolling pin while I would love to have an excuse to replace.

                                                                1. Everything (*) I have goes in the dishwasher; wooden spoons included, I have decades old wooden spoons that are still fully functional.

                                                                  (*) except my frying pan, don't know why, maybe because I use it nearly everyday and I have only one and it's easier and faster to do it manually.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Maximilien

                                                                    I don't put wood in the dishwasher, however my dishwasher has a little shelf in the front off the main rack specifically for utensils. It nestles up against the door when shut so they don't get knocked off by the water pressure. I also have two clamps to slide a wooden spoon under to hold it in place.