How to clean wooden bowls

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Wood hollowing clears out the center of a block of wood to create an artistic or functional product. Hollowing methods include charring the wood and scraping it away; careful whittling or carving; and using hand or power drills to core out the wood’s interior. Wood-hollowing projects range from dugout canoes to sewing bobbins, with modern woodworkers typically using a mechanical lathe.

Woodworkers use an adze — an axe-like tool that chops out flat slabs of wood — primarily for large projects such as hollowing a canoe or shaping shingles. Using adzes to hollow out large vessels dates back to Neolithic times, with such chopping tools chipped from flint. The center of the canoe or cooking vessel was often charred with hot coals to facilitate the hollowing process.

Gouges

A chisel with a curved, hollowed blade for removing chips of wood, a gouge comes in multiple sizes and shapes, with its blade attached to a handle. Large gouges chip out large pieces of wood, while small ones add detail, such as decorative carving, to individual pieces. Like the adze, wordworkers primarily employ gouges to hollow vessels with a wide top.

Drill

A drill can be either a smooth borer, like an ice pick, or a screw-threaded borer, such as in modern power drills. Used to make a narrow hole through a board or block of wood, a drill can clean the pith from the center of a wooden stick to make a tube, and add smaller side holes to turn the tube into a musical instrument.

Lathe

A lathe provides a mechanical means of turning wood for even carving. According to the artisan re-enactors at MacGregor Games, ancient Egyptians and Chinese woodworkers used bow lathes, which turned by attaching a string to a bent stick. Pulling the bent stick back and forth made the string turn the mechanism, rotating the wood.

Later on, crafters used a foot treadle to operate a lathe; modern lathes run on electric power. Attachments make the lathe perform different functions. With the correct attachment, it can drill through wood to make a hollow cylinder to create a vase or a bottle, while preset scrapers shape the outside. Elbow tools attached to a standard lathe make hollowing the inside of a vessel easier and more precise.

  • “Tools: Working Wood in Eighteenth-Century America”; James M. Gaynor and Nancy L. Hagedorn; 1994
  • Macgregor Historic Games: Early Man-Powered Wood Lathes
  • Packard Woodworks: Munro Hollowing Tools
  • ElboTool: A Hollowing Tool
  • MacGregor Games: Specialty Lathes and Related Attachments

Daisy Peasblossom Fernchild has been writing for over 50 years. Her first online publication was a poem entitled “Safe,” published in 2008. Her articles specialize in animals, handcrafts and sustainable living. Fernchild has a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Arts in library science.

How to Replace a Missing Antique Chair Seat

Before you attempt to refinish wood beds, you should consider a pair of critical points. Wooden beds are coated with a protective layer of varnish that provides protection from abrasion scars. You must remove this glossy coating before you begin the application process. In addition, because stain is thin, it is prone to drips and splatters. Know how to use the appropriate materials to protect surrounding surfaces, or you could end up with permanent stains.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Palm Sander
  • Mineral Spirits
  • 2- To 4-Inch Oil Paintbrush
  • Plastic Drop Cloths
  • Tack Cloths
  • 120-Grit Sandpaper
  • Varnish Or Polyurethane Wood Sealer
  • Professional Painter’S Tape
  • Heavy-Duty Fabric Drop Cloths
  • Screwdriver
  • Oil-Based Oak Stain
  • Dish Soap
  • Cloth Rags
  • 220-Grit Sandpaper

Remove the mattress and bedding.

Use ordinary dish soap and rags to clean the wood beds. Rinse the wood with damp rags. Wait a full day for the bed to dry.

Sand the wood bed with a palm sander, equipped with 120-grit sandpaper. Sand along with the wood grain until the finish appears dull.

Sand the wood bed, again, with a palm sander, equipped with 220-grit sandpaper. Sand along with the wood grain until the finish feels smooth.

Eliminate sawdust from the wood bed by wiping it with tack cloths.

Apply professional painter’s tape to portions of the wood bed you do not want refinished. Place plastic drop cloths on the floor. Cover the plastic with fabric drop cloths. Place the wood bed on top of the drop cloths.

Coat the wood bed with oil-based stain, using a paintbrush, engineered for use with oil paints. Wipe excess stain from the bed, using clean cloth rags. Wait 4 hours for the stained bed to dry.

Wash stain from the brush with mineral spirits.

Coat the stained wood bed with varnish, using the clean brush. Wait 6 hours before replacing the mattress and bedding.

You may be unable to access tight, intricate areas of the bed, using the palm sander. In this case, fold single strips of sandpaper into smaller pieces and use them to access these awkward areas. You may also use scissors to trim the sandpaper into smaller pieces if necessary.

Warnings:

  • You must sand off the existing layer of varnish from the wood bed before you stain, or you will have problems with absorption. Always sand along with the bed’s wood grain, or you may cause splintering. Don’t use plastic drop cloths alone, or stain drips will pool. Don’t use fabric drop cloths alone, or stain drips may soak through.

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

Introduction: How to Clean Wooden Serving Bowls

How to clean wooden bowls

How to clean wooden bowls

How to clean wooden bowls

Nothing brings out the vibrant colors of a salad more than a wooden serving bowl! In this tutorial, I show you how to prevent the fragile-esque nature of a wooden bowl from splintering damage but also the proper way to clean and preserve its beautiful finish.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Washing & Drying

Always remember that liquid is the worst enemy of wooden bowls.

That said, a quick wash in warm water and dish soap is the best way to clean this type of bowl. Make sure to use the soft side of a sponge, and not the abrasive side, as this will scratch up and remove any finishes already on the bowl.

Allow to air dry or better yet, towel dry as this will remove moisture quicker from the surface.

Step 2: No Heat!

Heat is another enemy of wooden bowls or utensils, as the rise in temperature can cause the grain to warp and split. Do not place bowls in microwave or in dishwashers. Hand washing is best, and if you need warmer foods in the bowl, heat them separately, then put in wooden bowl. However, liquidy foods such as soups should not be placed in wooden bowls.

Step 3: Seasoning

Seasoning is done to optimize the functionality of a bowl by removing any impurities from the grain and also helping to improve the taste and smell of the food inside. Enter in my favorite cleaning aide: lemons! Lemon juice is a well known antibacterial agent, and because wooden bowls are generally used to serve salads, it adds it’s own a crisp flavor. However, if you do not want the added lemony flavor, do not season immediately before use.

Simply cut a lemon in half and rub the inside of the bowl with it, squeezing gently as you go allowing the juice to flow generously. Allow bowl to drain free of any excess juices before use.

Step 4: Vinegar Bath

Using a 1:5 ratio of vinegar and water, pour the mix into your bowl to adequately fill to the brim. Let stand for 10 minutes then proceed to Step 1 with washing and drying.

The antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of white vinegar helps to kill any bacteria that has managed to live in the porous surface of the wood.

Step 5: Oiling

Depending on how often your bowl is used and for what purpose, or just usually when the color begins to fade, you can resurface the bowl by rubbing it with food grade mineral oil (not vegetable oils as these will go rancid over time and affect taste of whatever is in the bowl.) Apply oil to a non-lint cloth like microfiber, or with just your fingers (some people swear this gets the oil deeper into the grain), going in the direction of the grain as much as possible. Allow to sit and use when dry to touch

This process is done to protect the wood from drying out and subsequently cracking, but also to help protect excess liquid from seeping into the grain.

Step 6: Storage

Another enemy of wooden bowls is direct sunlight. This can age the bowl prematurely, discoloring and drying it of its natural oils. Store bowls in a cool and dark place in a pantry to ensure longevity.

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4 Comments

How to clean wooden bowls

In extreme examples, I will do a very quick wash and dry and just use sandpaper maybe 250 grit. Finer grit if you want after. Then wash again obviously and add food grade finish oil like mineral oil.

How to clean wooden bowls

Question 2 years ago on Step 6

How do you get oil out of a wooden bowl.

How to clean wooden bowls

So step 4 is actually Step 1? Just trying to understand!

How to clean wooden bowls

Very practical and informative! Thanks for the tut

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Wooden bowls are gorgeous, but you need to know how to clean them if you want them to last in the kitchen. Wood is porous, so it needs different care from the non-porous materials that make up most dinner ware. The first and most important rule in caring for wooden bowls: never let them soak in water. That also means: never put them in the dishwasher.

But it’s pretty simple. Here’s what you need to know:

How to clean a wooden bowl

  • Fill a sink with warm water and a mild dish detergent like Dawn.
  • Dip a dishwashing cloth or sponge in the water.
  • Wash the dish as quickly as you can, removing all visible food particles.
  • STOP! You’ve washed it enough – washing further could let water into the wood fibers, which is how they get damaged with soaking.
  • Rinse it under cold, clear water from the tap.
  • Dry the bowl immediately and as thoroughly as you can with a dishtowel or paper towels. You won’t be able to get it perfectly dry, so put it on a dish rack to dry the rest of the way. It’s important not to put it away before it’s thoroughly dry, so air drying is an important last step. Otherwise, they could mold.
  • Get a dab of food safe mineral oil on a cloth or paper towel and rub it all over the bowl. The right amount of oil will have it glistening, but not shining. If you get too much, just wipe off the excess with a clean paper towel.

That’s it. It sounds like a lot of steps, but once you get the swing of it, it’s actually really easy to do.

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Please read our disclaimer.

Wooden bowls are gorgeous, but you need to know how to clean them if you want them to last in the kitchen. Wood is porous, so it needs different care from the non-porous materials that make up most dinner ware. The first and most important rule in caring for wooden bowls: never let them soak in water. That also means: never put them in the dishwasher.

But it’s pretty simple. Here’s what you need to know:

How to clean a wooden bowl

  • Fill a sink with warm water and a mild dish detergent like Dawn.
  • Dip a dishwashing cloth or sponge in the water.
  • Wash the dish as quickly as you can, removing all visible food particles.
  • STOP! You’ve washed it enough – washing further could let water into the wood fibers, which is how they get damaged with soaking.
  • Rinse it under cold, clear water from the tap.
  • Dry the bowl immediately and as thoroughly as you can with a dishtowel or paper towels. You won’t be able to get it perfectly dry, so put it on a dish rack to dry the rest of the way. It’s important not to put it away before it’s thoroughly dry, so air drying is an important last step. Otherwise, they could mold.
  • Get a dab of food safe mineral oil on a cloth or paper towel and rub it all over the bowl. The right amount of oil will have it glistening, but not shining. If you get too much, just wipe off the excess with a clean paper towel.

That’s it. It sounds like a lot of steps, but once you get the swing of it, it’s actually really easy to do.

Wooden bowls make a great rustic addition to your kitchen decor. They’re perfect for serving all kinds of dishes, from salads to fruits and more.

But if you use these wooden serving bowls often, you might notice that they start to lack some of their luster over time. This can be due to over-washing, an accidental run through the dishwasher, or a lack of proper preservation of the wood material.

However, cleaning and caring for these products isn’t as complicated as you may think. Natural cleaning solutions and preservation methods are simple and readily available. To keep your wooden bowls looking shiny and new, make sure you’re cleaning them correctly with the tips below.

Everyday Care

If you’ve just finished serving your meal and you’re wondering whether or not to throw the wooden bowl in the dishwasher with everything else, give that a second thought. The harsh washing cycle and chemically-infused soap pods will do major damage to the bowl’s finish.

For everyday care of your wooden bowls, just rinse with warm water and wash gently with a soft sponge and mild soap.

Avoid submerging the bowl in water, since this will cause the wood to swell and possibly crack. Dry the dish with a soft towel and be sure to let it sit out overnight to air dry. Storing the bowl in a cabinet without letting it fully dry can also cause swelling and cracking.

Conditioning is Key

Every month or so, no matter how much you use it, your bowl will need some upkeep in order to maintain the color and shine of the wood. To do this, all you’ll need a soft cloth and a conditioning oil.

After gently washing the bowl as described above, rub a liberal amount of conditioning oil onto all sides of the bowl. Make sure to get the sides and bottom of the bowl as well. Set the bowl on a towel to let the oil sink in for a few hours, then apply a second coat.

Repeat this until the bowl doesn’t seem to absorb any more oil. With a clean, gentle cloth, rub off any oily residue left over. You’ll see your bowl’s color instantly go back to its original vibrancy.

Oil Choice

There are all kinds of conditioning oils to choose from, but it seems like mineral oil is the most popular option. You can find mineral oil in your local grocery or drug store (it has medical uses as well!) or at Amazon for a reasonable price.

Mineral oil is a great choice for cleaning cooking materials because it is food safe, won’t harden on the surface of your bowls, and it also won’t harbor any kind of bacteria like other oils might. Walnut oil is another option, since it’s food-based and safe for cooking surfaces. It’s also reasonably priced.

How to clean wooden bowlsThese thrift store finds got new life with a little restoration.

Full Restoration

If your wooden bowl is straight out of the antique shop, you may need to give it some serious elbow grease. These older bowls tend to lose their original finish and have years of stains and scratches. Luckily, the restoration process is still fairly simple:

Disinfect

You’ll want to completely disinfect the surface of your new or vintage bowl before using it for your own cooking purposes. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the entire bowl with a disinfectant like hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Let this sit for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Deep Clean

After letting the bowl dry from the disinfectant, give it an all-natural deep clean with a mixture of coarse sea salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle a generous amount of the salt into the bottom of the bowl, drizzle lemon juice over the salt, and scrub this solution into the bowl to even out the surface and give the bowl a deep clean.

Restore the Finish

After thoroughly cleansing, it’s time to remove the old, tattered finish of the bowl with either steel wool or sandpaper. Start with the coarsest material to remove most of the finish, then move to the medium material to smooth out the uneven areas and remove the rest of the finish. You’ll know you’re done when the dish feels smooth to the touch and the color is different.

Make sure to use a clean, slightly damp cloth to remove any leftover dust and residue before moving on to conditioning.

Condition

Repeat the conditioning process as described above (rub a generous amount of oil into the wood with a clean cloth, set to dry, and repeat until the wood doesn’t absorb any more oil).

This process will restore the bowl to it’s beautiful, original color and shine while giving new life to your wooden bowl.

Here are some cool bamboo tongs from Amazon to go with your
newly restored bowls. I like these salad hands too (Amazon).

Conclusion

Whether you’ve owned your wooden dish for years or just bought a brand new one, these tips are useful for anyone who wants to maintain the crisp, rustic beauty of their wooden bowl. Impress your dinner guests with a vibrant, sparkly clean serving bowl every time with the tips above.

Additional Resources

  • Chef Talk Forums – Cleaning Wooden Bowls
  • Wikipedia – Walnut Oil

How to clean wooden bowls

Amy Spencer is a food fanatic, library card user, and cast iron hunter, in that order. She has been cooking for anyone that will taste it ever since her mom let her make doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the age of 7.

I have been collecting wooden bowls and serving pieces form the thrift store like they are going out of style. The good thing is that they’re not! In fact, they are more popular than ever. I’ve found them for as little as $1 per piece, so wooden pieces are a nice way to add a little warmth to your table or to use as displays in other areas around your home.

Because I’ve never owned a wood bowl or platter before, I wasn’t quite sure how to care for them. Obviously, these pieces can’t play my game of Dishwasher Darwinism (i.e. it only survives in my house if it can be washed in the dishwasher), so I had to figure out something easy for my new loves. After a lot of research and product label reading, I figured out the easiest solution to keep the wood looking good. I put together a list of the tips that have worked for me.

How to Care for Wood Bowls and Serving Pieces

1. Clean your wooden pieces with warm water, a mild soap and a soft sponge. Don’t submerge your pieces in water, as it will cause them to crack and swell. Dry them with a dishtowel and then any other moisture dry out by allowing them to air dry overnight.

How to clean wooden bowls

2. With a soft, lint-free cloth, rub a generous amount of food safe mineral oil on all sides of your wooden pieces. You can pick up the mineral oil at a grocery or drug store – it’s used as an intestinal lubricant. Ahem. There are other oils and products you can buy to oil your wood pieces, but mineral oil was the cheapest and easiest thing to find. My understanding is that the mineral oil won’t harden, go rancid or host microorganisms (yuck!).

How to clean wooden bowls

3. Put your oiled pieces onto an old towel in a location where you can leave them alone. Allow the oil to soak into your wooden pieces for about 24 hours.

How to clean wooden bowls

4. Using a clean soft, lint-free cloth, buff any residual oil off of your pieces. You’ll notice that they will have a slightly darker color and a beautiful shine.

How to clean wooden bowls

5. After each food use (or when they need to be cleaned when used as decor items), wash them as detailed in Step 1. Don’t worry! You won’t need to oil the bowls after each use – only when you feel that they’ve lost their deeper color and shine.

I have big plans for these pieces in a top secret plan to incorporate them onto my dining table in a really fun way. Obviously, I’m avoiding the big project that looms over me, aren’t I?

Do you have any wooden pieces in your tablescape or used as decoration around your home? Please tell us how you care for them!

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned roller derby playing, DIY fanatic.

Lindsay chronicles her projects, design ideas, and lifestyle tips here at Makely, where she shares tutorials and inspiration. Her DIY designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color.

Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma), and dogs (Duke and Jill). She plays roller derby for the Rockin’ City Rollergirls out of Round Rock, Texas.

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Today we’re maintaining, caring for, and restoring wood bowls.

Most wood turned bowls by Art of Turning have a natural oil and wax finish. It is important to care for your wood bowls to retain their natural beauty.

Looking for a new wood bowl? My wood bowls go quickly, so feel free to contact me today!

Caring and maintaining wooden bowls.

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How To Clean Wooden Bowls

Wooden bowls need to be cleaned occasionally, but they are not dishwasher safe.

You may use soap and water to clean a wooden bowl. But make sure to dry immediately and then allow it to air dry in the open for a few hours.

Sanitize A Wood Bowl

If you need to sanitize your wooden bowl, wash it using a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.

Then rinse clean and dry immediately.

Seasoning Wood Bowls

Wood bowls, especially those used for food such as a salad bowl, need extra care. After cleaning, it’s a good idea to oil your wooden bowl.

My preference for oiling a wood bowl after cleaning is actually an oil and wax mixture called butcher block conditioner. You can find that here.

The oil embeds deep into the wood while the wax helps prevent the oil from drying out so quickly. This reduces the number of times you need to apply oil, ongoingly.

Apply butcher block conditioner after cleaning and periodically every month or two.

Apply it very liberally with a paper or cloth towel, let sit for 30 minutes or more and then buff with a clean dry towel.

Restoring Old Wood Bowls

Now that you know how to maintain your wood bowls, let’s talk about restoring an old wood bowl.

Perhaps you found an old wooden salad bowl that needs restoration.

It’s really quite simple to restore an old wooden bowl.

Wooden bowls hand turned treated with mineral oil and butcher block conditioner.

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Here are the steps for restoring your wood bowl.

Wash and sanitize the bowl. As we previously discussed, you can wash and sanitize your bowl.

This is the first thing that should be done with an old bowl, but don’t apply oil or conditioner just yet.

After your bowl is clean and dry, then you’ll want to sand the bowl with 600, 800, or 1000 grit sandpaper. Find fine grit sandpaper here.

The sandpaper grit will depend on how rough the bowl is. The higher the grit, the finer the sandpaper.

If the bowl is in really bad condition, consider lower grit sandpaper and work your way up through the grits. Always try to sand with the grain of the wood.

After sanding, wipe the dust away with a dry cloth.

Mineral Oil

Now that the bowl has been cleaned and sanded thoroughly, we can restore it with oil.

Mineral oil is the stuff you want. It will not go rancid like other oils that are made for cooking.

Use a cloth and soak the bowl in mineral oil. Really apply it liberally and allow the bowl to sit for several hours. If you notice it soaks the oil right up, feel free to add more oil.

After several hours, buff the bowl with a clean dry cloth.

Butcher Block Conditioner

Butcher block conditioner is an oil and wax blend. By applying butcher block conditioner, you are not only oiling the wood but also protecting the wood with wax.

Once the bowl has been oiled with mineral oil and buffed dry, apply a liberal coat of butcher block conditioner. Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes before buffing dry.

Repeat the butcher block conditioner step every day for a few days, and then once a week or every other week for a while. Once you notice the bowl not feeling dry to the touch, your bowl has been restored!

After your bowl has been restored to its natural beauty once again, maintain the bowl using the method above.

Please reach out with any questions you may have about maintaining wood bowls.

Get Butcher Block Conditioner here on Amazon.

Wooden bowl made from maple wood with a live edge and oil finish.

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Polyurethane Coated Wood Bowls

Polyurethane coated wood bowls don’t get the exact same treatment as bowls previously oiled with mineral oil and butcher block oil (Get those here and here).

Rather, they need very little maintenance. If you find your bowl has become dull, a little buffing might do the trick.

Otherwise, you may sand it down and use a wipe-on poly product to rejuvenate your wooden bowl.

Before adding more poly, make sure you know whether the bowl is finished with water-based poly or oil-based poly.

There is a difference and the bowl should be refinished with the same as the original finish.