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Today we’re maintaining wood bowls as well as caring for and restoring wooden 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.

Maintaining Wood Bowls

Maintaining wood bowls  and preserving their natural beauty is a breeze! For everyday use, just them a quick rinse with mild soapy water and dry promptly with a towel. Allow to air dry before storing them away.

Occasionally, lavish them with a nice rub down of oil and wax. This is the most important step to keeping your wood kitchen items looking great. The oil and wax will protect them while giving them a nice subtle sheen.

Wooden bowls have been used for thousands and thousands of years. They’re natural and will look great in your kitchen, dining room, and throughout your home, too! Looking for a new wood bowl? My bowls go quickly but find my current selection here: wood bowls.

Maintaining wood bowls with oil and wax, fixing old wooden bowls, and keeping bowls clean and looking great.

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 where you use a vinegar based dressing, need extra care. After cleaning, it’s a good idea to oil your wooden bowl. If you typically use an oil based dressing like olive oil, you’ll find your bowl needs less care and is absorbs the oil from the dressing to keep it moisturized, which is a good thing!

My preference for oiling a wood bowl after cleaning is our wonderful, all natural conditioner. You can find that here: Bowl and board oil and wax.

I always give my customers a few options, so if you’d rather something else besides what we have in-house, I’d suggest Howard Cutting Board Oil and Howard Butcher Block Conditioner. The idea is the same, these are just mass produced products.

The oil embeds deep into the wood and helps prevent the bowl from drying out so quickly. This keeps the bowl in a moisturized state. As a rule of thumb, if the bowl feels dry to the touch it needs to be conditioned.

Apply 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 about maintaining 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 coated with mineral oil and butcherblock conditioner

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.

Bowl and Board Conditioner

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

Our bowl and board oil conditioner is the stuff you want. It will restore the natural beauty of the bowl and keep it looking great. Again, alternatively Howard cutting board oil will also work great.

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

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

Repeat this step every day for a few days, until you feel the bowl is no longer soaking up the conditioning oil.

Get our special blend of bowl conditioner here and Howard mineral oil here.

Bowl and Board Oiling Wax

Board and bowl oiling wax an oil and wax blend. By applying our bowl and board wax, you are not only adding oil to the wood but also protecting the wood with wax.

Once the bowl has been coated with oiling wax, allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes before buffing dry.

Repeat the waxing step every few days for a week or two and the bowl has been restored!

After your bowl has been restored to its natural beauty once again, you can resume maintaining wood bowls using the method above.

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

Shop now: Art Of turning’s Bowl and board oiling wax.

Check out Howard Butcher Block conditioner, it’s not a wax but more or less mineral oil with some wax substrate – it’s definitely a liquid though.

Live edge maple wood bowl with oil finish.

Polyurethane Coated Wood Bowls

Polyurethane coated wood bowls don’t get the exact same treatment as bowls previously treated with oil conditioner and wax.

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 with a fine grit sandpaper 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.

Find poly products here on Amazon.

If you’re unsure, you may just want to wax the bowl with our wood wax. Using our natural oiling wax over poly is a great way to bring back a nice luster and will help keep your bowl looking great.

As I said, maintaining wood bowls isn’t too hard. They’ve been used for tens of thousands of years, there is nothing to be afraid of — get rid of your plastics and try natural wood bowls!

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