I love my collection of wooden cooking tools. I'll reach for wood over metal or plastic just about every time. It just feels good to stir with a wooden spoon, don't you think? They don't scratch pans, they don't melt, they're a natural material, they are easy to manipulate and the perfect shape for everything from scrambled eggs to soups to sauteéd spinach. Since my wooden kitchen tools get such hard use they are in need of a refresher every so often--especially my cutting board, which I get out at least twice a day. Obviously soap and water is great for regular cleaning, but wood needs a bit of extra maintenance to keep it in good, clean shape.
So, I did some research on a food-safe cleaning method. Did you know that lemon essential oil is an excellent natural sanitizer? I've recently been using a drop or two on bathroom countertops to disinfect them, and was thrilled to discover lemon oil is food-safe! I grabbed my salad tongs and my trusty cutting board to start, and using a paper towel I rubbed some lemon oil into the wood for a minute or two. I thought about rinsing it afterward but the smell was too delicious, and the wood completely absorbed the oil. No need to rinse!
You could stop there--the lemon oil alone will renew and thoroughly sanitize your wooden tools--but if you want to really pamper and refresh the wood you can apply a food-safe beeswax furniture polish. I recently bought this polish to moisturize a very dry wicker chair but it can be used on all kinds of wood. After applying with a cotton towel and then buffing the wood to a shine, I noticed the most difference on my salad tongs. These were a gift from my husband and I love them, but they've always been a little on the dry side. You'd think that all the olive oil they encounter would have fixed that by now! The beeswax polish instantly revived the wood and now they feel silky smooth to the touch. The extra moisture has brought out the grain pattern in a rich and beautiful way, too.
In addition to being effective I found this little ritual highly satisfying and enjoyable. Over the past few months I've been gravitating toward natural and simple cleaning products--baking soda, vinegar, good old boiling water--and something about rubbing that lovely lemon oil into my cutting board was really gratifying. It's kind of magical that something so delightfully fragrant is also good at killing germs! Also very neat to see the way the wooden tongs absolutely drank up the beeswax. I can't wait to get to the rest of my wooden tools later today.
Thanks for letting me wax-poetic for a minute. (Pun intended!) But really, grab some lemon oil and beeswax polish and try this for yourself. Your wooden tools will thank you and I bet you'll enjoy yourself in the process.