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Apr 1, 2013 06:21 PM

Can I deodorize musty smelling wooden utensils?

I discovered a box of assorted wooden utensils that had been stored in a damp basement. They have not been used (still have some price stickers on them) and are stamped "France" on the back. If I remember correctly they were purchased at Sur la Table many years ago. I would love to use them but they have a faint musty smell that I'm afraid would leach into the food. Is there anything I can soak them in that would remove the mustiness without imparting its own scent or damage the tools? They are really lovely and have sentimental value to me.

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  1. Soak in diluted bleach, about 1:20, for an hour. Wash with dish soap and water, and rinse well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GH1618

      I would not soak them in anything, but rather would first try leaving them in sunlight and a breeze for several hours at a time.

      Bleach is an oxidizing agent and thus will work, but so is ultraviolet light (sunlight). And I think the light will perform a bit better, and is a little less destructively than any soak.

      I've used sunlight and breeze to remove that horrible resin offgas smell from new resin impregnated knife blades.

      yes, wut others have said here.

    2. I would first scrub with soapy water, rinse well and sit out in the sunshine. If that doesn't do it, use a dilute bleach (1 T/ gallon water) and soak for a few minutes.and dry out in the sun.

      1. I would be very reluctant to use soap on unused wooden utensils as I would be afraid that the soap taste and smell would be much more likely to contaminate food and the "musty" odors described. The raw wood would be must more likely to absorb odors, soap, bleach, whatever.

        I would rinse them in boiling water and expose them to direct sunlight. Then I would use them while sauteing something in very hot fat. That should diminish the odor and then seal the wood.

        FWIW, I never use soap on a wooden utensil.

        5 Replies
        1. re: akachochin

          I use mild soap on wood utensils because I feel I need to get the smell of food I just cooked off so it won't transfer to the next thing. If you have any oily or other residue at all, just from laying around, you might need some sort of surfactant to get it off. We have just been cleaning out my parents home. If you are worried about replacing one smell with another, you can get homemade soap or castille that is made with olive oil. Bleach will kill any mold, which may be responsible for the smell but then evaporates, so any smell will be gone. You can always start with the least amount of chemicals(boiling water) and move to stronger things if the boiling water isn't enough.

          1. re: wekick

            Wrong - wrong - wrong --

            Bleach is Sodium Hypochlorite (NaClO) and DOES NOT evaporate!!!!!!

            And is poisonous as well as reactive with eg Vinegar and gives off pure Chlorine gas.

            It's rather sure that amounts involved here are small - but the main thing is for everyone NOT to think 'bleach' evaporates - the water does - but leaves the NaClO solid!

            1. re: jounipesonen

              A better term is that it breaks down. In any case it goes away and the end result is the smell is gone.

              "but leaves the NaClO solid!"

              This is not true.

              Any residue from bleach at this dilution(500ppm), if you can find any would be mostly salt. NaCl. I don't think you can evaporate even full strength bleach to do this, it is too unstable. It is much more involved than that. Please point us to a credible site that says you can do this if you have it.

              1. re: wekick

                It could be true that at such dilution it will not crystallize as NaClO.

                The main message is that it does not as such 'evaporate' but even more so bleach should be handled with extreme caution (as per the EPA advice). Even in home solutions it can produce very toxic Cl2 gas and can permanently damage eyes if splashed etc. or left on hands. It's nothing to play with!

                'Bleach' is tossed around in this thread as if it was some kind of fizzy pop or soap detergent - it is rather a dangerous chemical - even at low levels of concentration.

              2. re: jounipesonen

                From clorox:

                I know, THEY want you to buy bleach.
                But they also want their customers to be safe.

          2. I would "hand scrub" them with a heavily textured DRY dishcloth-somewhat like a light sanding/buffing.
            Then soak in the sun in water infused with lemon/citrus rinds.
            Then dry, in the sun.

            1. I would try to soak in one of the following:
              1) Diluted bleach as GH1618 has suggested
              2) Hydrogen peroxide -- store bought
              3) Distilled white vinegar -- store bought (which is usually ~5%)

              Any of these should disinfect the wood utensils