TikTok cleaning fan shares why you've been washing your wooden spoons wrong and how to deep-clean them

Screenshots from Melanie's video showing the cleaning steps
Although the tip wasn't universally agreed upon by viewers, many have thanked the cleaning enthusiast for her handy hack. Photo credit: Melanie Lionello / @frommylittlekitchen / TikTok

If you're anything like me, washing up isn't so much 'washing' as it is 'chucking anything and everything in the dishwasher and hoping for the best'. 

But as I've come to discover, our wooden kitchenware - from chopping boards to that handmade bowl - should never be relegated to the racks. Even that trusty wooden stirring spoon, a vital piece of equipment for any homecook, shouldn't be treated as any old spoon - although I'm sure most of us have chucked it in the cutlery basket on more than one occasion. 

If you're wondering how to clean your wooden utensils thoroughly by hand, Melbourne-based nutritionist, author and self-proclaimed cleaning enthusiast Melanie Lionello has shared her tricks of the trade. 

In a video uploaded to her TikTok, Lionello warned that wooden spoons "aren't nearly as clean as you think" - and unfortunately, she's right. As wooden utensils are porous, they tend to absorb water - like all other organisms, bacteria need water to survive, meaning that wooden spoon could be teeming with germs and microbes. 

In the clip, Lionello demonstrated her quick and simple method for a sanitised spoon. Putting her wooden spoon into a "big tall jar", she added a generous sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda before pouring in boiling water, submerging the spoon completely. 

After leaving the concoction to soak for about 15 minutes, Lionello returned and filmed the dirt and grime that had been stripped from the spoon during its deep-clean.

She clarified that although the spoon had already been 'cleaned' in the dishwasher, the cycle clearly wasn't powerful enough to thoroughly penetrate and sanitise the wood. 

"I recommend doing this every couple of months with your wooden spoons, especially if you use them a lot like me. That way you know they're probably going to be clean," she suggested. 

Responding to her viewers, Lionello also acknowledged that in a perfect world, wooden utensils shouldn't be cleaned in the dishwasher, but noted that it's often quicker and more convenient for the time-strapped among us. 

"We work long hours so everything goes into the dishy because I can't be bothered hand-washing wooden spoons. This trick helps," she said.

According to Lionello, her tip works particularly well if you cook with pigmented ingredients such as turmeric, tomato and paprika, which often leave stubborn residue. To help combat those stains, she advised cleansing the utensils in boiling water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. 

The helpful clip has already been viewed more than 360,000 times, with many grateful viewers expressing their thanks for the tip. However, several said they feared soaking their wooden spoons would remove the "flavour", with one arguing: "That's not dirty, they're seasoned."

"They are called flavour sticks for a reason," another joked.

But not everyone was convinced by Lionello's method, with a number of people taking to the comments to argue that cleaning your wooden kitchenware in boiling water will gradually destroy the utensils by stripping the wood of its natural oils. Several suggested wiping the tools with vegetable or mineral oil before use to "seal" the wood and preserve them over time.