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Remove Stains From Your Wooden Salad Bowls With This Simple Hack


At some point, we’ve all either bought a wooden bowl or might have been gifted one by a relative. These are perfect serving bowls for salads or even pasta that add a rustic touch to your tablescape. However, cleaning them can be a little tricky because garlicky smells and stubborn stains tend to cling onto the wood’s surface. Luckily, there’s some simple tips for how to clean wooden bowls so they’ll stay in the best shape possible.

Just like you would clean and sanitize your trusty wood cutting board, these bowls are no different. In addition to nixing smells and stains left behind, this also prevents bacteria that may cause food poisoning from growing and hiding on the wood’s porous surface. The experts at Cook’s Illustrated share their easy-to-follow guide for taking good care of your wooden bowls. This way you’ll be able to use them to serve yummy dishes like fall-inspired salads and hearty pasta dishes all the time!

How to Clean a Wooden Bowl

Cleaning a wooden bowl after each use is quick and simple. The chefs at Cook’s Illustrated recommend washing it in warm water using a mild dish soap until all of the residue is gone. Feel free to add a squeeze of lemon or splash of white vinegar to the bowl as you’re washing it to nix any strong smells from garlic or herbs. Once it’s clean, dry it thoroughly with a paper towel or tea towel. They warn against putting a wooden bowl in the dishwasher or letting it soak in water because it can cause the wood to shrink and crack (yikes!).

This easy step will do wonders to ensure the longevity of your wooden bowls.

How do you get stains out of a wooden salad bowl?

Sometimes washing the bowl in soapy warm water isn’t enough to remove some of the sticky stains. Instead of just letting it stay on the surface, the experts at Cook’s Illustrated have a foolproof oven trick to get rid of those bothersome stains.

Move your oven rack to the middle position and preheat it 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on a baking sheet that’s as wide as the wooden bowl. Put a wire rack over the foil or parchment paper. Flip the bowl upside down and place it on the baking sheet. Once the oven is preheated, turn it off and slide the baking tray on the middle rack before closing the door.

Let the bowl sit in the oven for one to two hours. This step removes the oils and stickiness that might have been building up within the surface of the bowl. You’ll notice that the residue will run off of the bowl during this process, which is a great sign. Once the bowl looks mostly dry, take it out of the oven and wipe it down with paper towels to nix any excess moisture. Repeat this baking process if you notice that the bowl is still sticky.

Letting the oven do the work of removing those hard to get to stains will save a ton of headaches and elbow grease (what a relief!).

How do you restore a wooden salad bowl?

Other times our wooden bowls may need a refresh because they can start to look dry or dull on the surface. That’s why the test kitchen chefs at Cook’s Illustrated suggest “re-seasoning it” similar to a cast iron skillet.

Apply two tablespoons of a mineral oil like Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil (Buy on Amazon, $12.99) to the inside and outside of the bowl. Mineral oil is a clear, odorless oil that’s made from purified petroleum. Unlike vegetable or olive oils, it won’t spoil. This makes it safe to coat the surface of the bowl to prevent it from drying out and restore its shine.

Wipe the oil around the bowl using a paper towel and let it stand for 15 minutes to allow it to absorb into the wood. If there’s any excess oil after it’s rested, wipe it off again with a paper towel. The experts at Thirteen Chefs recommend using this oil at least once every other week to maintain the quality of the wood.

Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil product block image

Buy on Amazon, $12.99

Why we like it:

  • Hydrates the wood and prevents it from warping
  • Works on all types of wood
  • Will not spoil on the surface

Happy customer:I purchased this to maintain my new walnut bowls. I decided to give my old and tired wooden bowls a treat and applied this mineral oil. Wow! They have a whole, new lease on life. I cannot compare mineral oils, but I don’t need to. This product is wonderful. I encourage you to consider it.

Knowing how to clean wooden bowls allows you to restore the ones you already have. Plus, they’ll they last longer for many more cooking adventures to come!

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