Are Wooden Bowls Sanitary?

White Bowls

Are wooden bowls sanitary? This is a common question from those looking for a healthier and more sustainable kitchenware option. The answer may surprise you – wooden bowls are actually more sanitary than plastic!

While it’s a common myth that wooden kitchenware holds more bacteria than plastic, the truth is that wood typically harbors less bacteria and can be easily sanitized with natural products. In this blog post, we will discuss why wooden bowls are actually more sanitary than plastic and how you can keep your woodenware clean and safe.

Dispelling the Myths about Wooden Kitchenware

petermans spalted maple nesting bowls sanitary

For many years, there has been a common misconception that wooden bowls and other wooden kitchenware are not as sanitary as plastic alternatives. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, wooden bowls are typically more sanitary than plastic due to the unique properties of the wood.

What are those properties?

Wood is Naturally Antibacterial

The quintessential study debunking the “wood is less sanitary” myth was conducted by food safety researcher Dean Cliver at the University of California, Davis. In this study, Cliver found that wooden cutting boards hold less bacteria than their plastic counterparts

Cliver’s study found that wood has natural antibacterial properties that make it difficult for bacteria to survive on its surface.

Wood is More Durable

Additionally, while plastic cutting boards may be easier to sanitize and can withstand higher temperatures for cleaning, plastic is not as tough as wood.

This means that plastic cutting boards are more easily marked with knife grooves from the food preparation process. These grooves are hard to clean and create a space for bacteria to become trapped and proliferate.

In contrast, wood is much tougher and less susceptible to knife damage, making it more difficult for bacteria to hide.

Hardwoods are More Sanitary Than Softwoods

The type of wood a bowl or board is made with also matters. Hardwoods have a finer grain, which is less susceptible to damage. Softwoods, in contrast, pose a greater food safety risk because their larger grains are more prone to the damage that promotes bacterial growth. At Spencer Peterman, we make all of our bowls with locally sourced and upcycled hardwoods such as maple, oak, cherry, and walnut.

So, are wooden bowls sanitary? Yes, absolutely. In summary, the myth that wooden bowls are not as sanitary as plastic is just that – a myth. Don’t let this misinformation keep you from using beautiful and functional wooden bowls in your kitchen.

It’s essential to note that while wooden bowls are generally safe and hygienic, they must be properly cleaned and maintained to prevent any potential bacterial growth. 

Sanitizing Wooden Bowls Naturally with Household Products

are wooden bowls sanitary cleaning wooden kitchenware with natural products

While wooden bowls do require special care and attention, they are actually very easy to sanitize with natural household products that you likely already have on hand. Here are a few methods you can use:

  • Cut a lemon in half, and rub lemon juice over the bowl’s surface. Let sit for two minutes, then rinse the bowl with warm water. Hand dry immediately.
  • Mix one part white vinegar to five parts water. With a kitchen cloth, rub this mixture over the surface of the bowl and let it stand for two minutes. Rinse the bowl with warm water and hand dry immediately.
  • Lightly spritz a 50:50 mixture of white vinegar and water directly on the surface of the bowl. Wipe off excess with a towel and allow the bowl to air dry.
  • Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that can help remove stains and odors from your wooden bowls. Mix a small amount of baking soda with water to create a paste, then apply it to your bowl and gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse clean with water and dry thoroughly.

    No matter which method you choose, be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on your wooden bowls, as they can damage the wood and compromise its sanitary properties.

With a little bit of care and attention, wooden bowls can be a safe and sanitary addition to your kitchen. Just be sure to clean them thoroughly after each use, and store them in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture buildup.

How to Properly Clean and Care for Wooden Bowls

Peterman's natural food safe conditioner

Now that we’ve established that wooden bowls are more sanitary than plastic, it’s important to know how to properly care for them to maintain their cleanliness.

Hand Wash Only

Never place your wooden bowls in the dishwasher. The high heat and harsh detergents can damage the wood and cause it to crack. Instead, hand wash your wooden bowls with warm, soapy water, and dry them immediately afterwards.

Don’t Soak

Wooden bowls should also never be soaked in water, as this can cause them to warp or split. If you have stubborn stains or residue, use a gentle scrubber or brush to remove it.

Condition Regularly

Conditioning is a key step in keeping your bowl in great shape. Conditioning prevents your boards, bowls, and tossers from drying out and from absorbing too much moisture. It also keeps your wooden bowls looking as beautiful and lustrous as the day you bought them.

Use mineral oil or a product specifically made for conditioning wood, such as our own black walnut or beeswax conditioner. Other oils, such as vegetable oils, are not suitable for seasoning wood as they may turn rancid–that includes quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil. To condition, use a paper towel to liberally coat your bowl with mineral oil or your conditioner of choice. Allow the bowl to stand for 15 minutes before wiping away the excess conditioner with a fresh paper towel.

Store Properly

When storing your wooden bowls, make sure they are completely dry before putting them away. Store them in a cool, dry place where they won’t be exposed to moisture or humidity. You can also place them in a cloth or paper bag to protect them from dust and debris.

By properly caring for your wooden bowls, you can ensure that they stay sanitary and last for years to come. 

Other Benefits of Using Wooden Bowls in Your Kitchen

Cherry Burl Bowl

Aside from being a more sanitary choice, wooden bowls also offer a range of other benefits that make them a popular choice in many kitchens. 

Firstly, wooden bowls are a sustainable and eco-friendly option. Unlike plastic, wood is a renewable resource. All of the wood we use to create our boards and bowls is locally and sustainably sourced, typically from local tree services that would otherwise chip, toss, or burn the logs we obtain from them.

Additionally, wooden bowls are a great way to add warmth and texture to your kitchen. The natural grain of the wood can create a beautiful contrast to your other kitchen tools and appliances. Our burl wood bowls and our ambrosia and spalted maple bowls are customer favorites for display in the kitchen.

Another benefit of wooden bowls is their durability. Wooden bowls are much more resistant to damage. With proper care, a good quality wooden bowl can last for many years.

We hope this blog helped dispel some of the popular myths out there about wooden kitchenware. With just a little care and maintenance, you can use our wooden bowls and boards with absolute confidence for decades to come. Shop our entire collection right here.

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