Are Wooden Bowls Dishwasher-Safe? (9 Ways to Extend Lifespan)

Wooden bowls on a table

Wooden bowls can be a beautiful addition to your kitchen because of their rustic charm.

However, caring for these utensils is quite different from other types of cookware.

So, before you throw them in the dishwasher with the rest of your kitchen utensils, you may want to check if they are dishwasher-safe.

Can You Wash Wooden Bowls in The Dishwasher?

It’s not a good idea to wash wooden bowls in the dishwasher. Wood soaks up water, so cleaning wooden bowls in the dishwasher can damage the wood. The fibers in the bowl will warp, while the strong detergent will strip the wood of its natural color and speed up decay.

So it’s best to wash your wooden bowls by hand and dry them quickly to get rid of moisture.

With a little care and maintenance, your wooden bowls will look good and remain functional for a very long time.

Let’s take a closer look at how to care for them.

9 Practical Ways to Extend the Lifespan of Wooden Bowls

Here is how you can take better care of your wooden bowls and extend their life for much longer.

1. Never Put a Wooden Bowl in The Dishwasher

As we mentioned earlier, wooden bowls aren’t dishwasher-friendly.

Even if they may tolerate an occasional run in the dishwasher, it’s not recommended to put them in the dishwasher at all, the reason being the structure of the material.

Unlike metal, wood is highly porous. It absorbs moisture.

When water enters the wood, the fibers expand and subsequently burst.

This destroys the finish of the bowl.

Dishwasher detergents are also high in chlorine which strips the bowl of its natural stain and color.

It will discolor the surface and make it ugly.

Running wooden bowls through hot water cycles will further cause the glue used to attach the parts to come off.

So it’s not a good idea to wash the wooden bowls or any wooden utensils in the dishwasher.

2. Season It Frequently to Prolong the Lifespan of Wooden Bowls

You may have heard that seasoning cast iron preserves it and makes it non-stick.

Similarly, wood also benefits from seasoning with oil.

Seasoning means adding a fine layer of oil to the surface to improve its resilience to moisture and heat and preserve the wood.

You can use any edible mineral oil to season your wooden bowl.

Do this as soon as you get your bowl, and re-season it at regular intervals.

Simply dip a brush or cloth in the oil and spread it evenly over the entire surface.

Then, set it aside till the oil is fully absorbed by the fibers.

When the fibers are saturated with oil, the surface will become impervious to moisture and last longer.

Repeat this process every few weeks or space it further apart depending on how frequently you use your bowl.

You can also use natural wood preservers for seasoning.

However, avoid using inedible preserving agents on the inside surface of the bowl since they can contaminate food.

3. Avoid Heating Your Wooden Bowl

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to cook food in your wooden bowl.

Wood is a combustible material. So these bowls are only meant for cooking without fire.

They are best used as serving bowls.

You can also use them as a serving dish or toss salads and make other dishes that don’t involve heat.

Wooden bowls are also unsuitable for microwave and oven use.

Leaving them in a hot oven for even a few minutes can permanently damage the bowl.

Heat will make the fibers in the wood crack, warp, and splinter.

There are other heat-proof bowls that you can use for this purpose.

4. Use Wooden Bowls Regularly

Wooden bowl used regularly

It’s often tempting to put wooden bowls aside for special occasions only. However, it’s not necessary.

These bowls will hold up very well even when used every day if you care for them properly.

Regular washing, drying, and seasoning will keep them in optimum condition.

With proper care, they will last for several years.

Just take care to keep them away from moisture and dry them well after each use.

5. Banish Scratches or Dents Immediately

Wooden bowls are generally sturdy and unaffected by falls and accidents.

However, their surface is prone to scratches and dents when they are in contact with knives and sharp objects.

The surface of wooden bowls can also become fuzzy from wear and tear.

Fortunately, you can easily restore the surface.

To get the bowl back into top shape, scrub the area with the dent or scratch with an abrasive cleaner like steel wool.

You can also use sandpaper to shave off the scratched area.

Once the surface is flat and free of dents and nicks, apply a seasoning oil and leave it to dry.

Your bowl will look as good as new.

6. Clean the Bowl Immediately After Contact with Smelly Ingredients

You can use wooden bowls to serve chili, curry, and other dishes, besides popcorn and salad.

However, wood as a material tends to absorb odors faster than metal bowls.

If you leave strong-smelling ingredients in the bowl for too long, the odors can set in and become difficult to remove.

In such situations, you can use salt and lemon to get the odors out of the bowl.

For ingredients like raw meat, use vinegar and water in an equal ratio to wash out the bowl and disinfect it.

After cleaning, apply mineral oil liberally over the surface and let it soak to restore the surface and improve its resistance.

7. Use a Gentle Cleaning Agent

Wood is a natural material that is sensitive to strong and harsh chemicals.

Washing it with strong chlorine-based detergents will strip the surface of its natural shine.

It will also break down the fibers of the wood and damage its look.

Hence, choose only mild detergents and cleaning agents for washing wood bowls.

You can use mild dishwashing soap and water to clean residues.

After washing, rinse out all the detergent and promptly dry the wood bowl.

Use a non-abrasive cloth for proper drying. Put it away in a dry place away from moisture.

You can also season it with oil every few weeks to extend its lifespan and keep the bowl in working condition for much longer.

8. Never Soak a Wooden Bowl

Wood tends to acquire dirt and oil with continuous use.

Dust and dirt can build up on the surface and make the bowl smelly and dull.

A deep clean will restore the bowl to its original look. However, don’t soak it in water for this purpose.

Wooden bowls aren’t like metal vessels that are easier to clean when soaked for a while.

Wood is a natural material that absorbs moisture, leading to decay and the build-up of bacteria.

So avoid soaking a wooden bowl.

You must instead use cleaning agents like lemon and salt to deep clean a wooden bowl.

Vinegar is a good disinfecting agent.

After scrubbing the bowl thoroughly with either of these solutions, wash it with warm water to complete the cleaning process.

Then, towel dry the wooden bowl and let it sit out till all the moisture is expelled from its surface.

Interesting Further Reading: 7 Bowls that Keep the Food Hot | Can Stainless Steel Bowls Rust?

9. Routinely Maintain the Wooden Bowls

Wood has natural oils to protect its surface. These not only preserve the surface but also make the bowl look good.

However, these natural oils are stripped off by continuous washing.

Regular upkeep will prevent the bowl from becoming dull.

You can use any edible seasoning oil for this purpose.

For regular seasoning, any edible mineral oil will do.

However, if you want to restore the shine and color of the outer surface, touch up the wooden boil with a food-safe preserving agent that matches the original color of the bowl.

It will soak into the wood cells and make the bowl look lustrous again.

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