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November 2013

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Wood for the Home
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Cutting board before applying wood polish.

Colors of the cutting board shine after applying wood polish.


Remember wooden kitchen pieces? I do. Sure, we all have a wooden rolling pin or two and maybe several spoons, but there is a lot more out there. And they can come in every kind of wood imaginable, from acacia to walnut.

Try using wooden salad bowl sets. They go with any seasonal table setting. The smaller bowls can be used for salads, desserts, and even soups.

A lazy Susan in the middle of the table makes it easy to pass around the appetizers. Trays made from wood help serve up the cheese, crackers, and dips. A honey dipper helps add some sweetness to coffee and tea.

Don't forget the serving pieces. Use a slotted spoon for veggies. A soup spoon is not only for soup; use it to dish up gravy or other sauces. Oh, yeah, don't forget about that apple pie: use a wedge server for fruit pies or pizza pies.

For cooking, I think wooden utensils are the best. They will not chip or damage your nonstick pans. For stainless steel pots, you won't find anything better. Unlike metal, wood won't scratch. And wood is more sanitary than plastic—and it won't melt.

But perhaps you are thinking, "While I love the look of wood and there are so many varieties to choose from, I can't even imagine taking care of it." Actually, wooden kitchen products are easier to take care of than you might think. If cared for properly, wood products will last from generation to generation. How many products can you say that about?

By now you get the idea that I really enjoy my wooden kitchen accessories. So on to how easy they are to keep clean and care for.


  1. Never put them in the dishwasher.
  2. Soaking them in a dishpan or sink full of water is a huge mistake. Never!
  3. Do not put them away slightly wet.
  4. Do not use vegetable oil on them. These oils will become rancid and cause the wood to smell and your foods to taste funny.


  1. Hand wash under warm running water with mild dish soap. A sponge with a soft scrubber attached is fine for stuck-on foods. But a dishrag works best.
  2. For dishes: towel dry and then let them finish drying in a rack. For utensils: towel dry, then air-dry them standing up in a ceramic crock.
  3. At least once per month, or more often if they start looking dull and dried out, rub them with some wood oil.
  4. From time to time you may notice something "fuzzy" about them. This is natural as the wood fibers are simply separating. To fix this, use a very fine sandpaper to lightly sand, then wipe clean and polish. Good as new!

While you can purchase ready-to-use wood oil, take a look at the ingredients. Most of us can barely read the ingredients on food labels, never mind anything else like wood oil. Because you will be using the items for food, you should be sure what you clean and polish with is food safe.

Try using the following homemade polish instead. It is safe for food, easy to make, and keeps for a long time. Plus, you can use it on any wood surface, from floors to spoons.

I got this recipe from my friend Sue, who likes to make her own soap and natural beauty products. I use it on my wood tables in place of store-bought sprays. After time those sprays leave a build-up of dirt and wax. This homemade version will not build up on your furniture and leave behind a waxy mess. It puts the natural sparkle back in the wood.


Make your own wood polish


Note: Before using this polish, be sure to test it on a small corner of the wood surface to make sure it does not stain or mar the wood.

Wood Polish

You will need:

2 tablespoons finely grated beeswax or beeswax beads
6–8 tablespoons mineral oil; less makes a firmer wax, more makes it softer
A small glass container such as a 4-ounce canning jar
A pot with about 2 inches of water
A spoon

Heat up the water in your pan. It should be steaming, not boiling hard. Place beeswax into a 4-ounce glass container and place the container in the water. Do not let the water get into the wax. Melt completely, keeping an eye on it while it melts. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the mineral oil. Let cool and then cover.


Grated wax.

Wax melting in simmering water.

Wood polish before it hardens up.


Easy, isn't it?

But wait! There are more uses for this little jar of goodness. Diaper rash? Rub a little onto your baby's bottom to create a barrier from wetness.

Chapped lips? Dry winter skin? It's perfect for that. Damaged cuticles? Helps with that, too.

Oh no! There are so many uses I may have to triple my recipe. Because the ingredients are so inexpensive and readily available, make as much as you need.

This makes a great gift as well. Be sure to include the recipe on a pretty gift tag.

To find wood pieces made in and near the Pacific Northwest, check out the following:


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.
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