Dishwasher Dilemma: The Safety of Washing Bamboo Plates

In recent years, eco-conscious consumers have sparked a surge in sustainability-marketed products. This includes renewable and biodegradable bamboo kitchen utensils from brands like Totally Bamboo, Bambu, and Bamboo Biogas.

Bamboo offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics and metals. But its organic properties require a delicate approach regarding dishwasher use.

The Benefits Driving Bamboo Kitchenware Sales

As a fast-growing grass species, bamboo offers many advantages over conventional manufacturing materials:


Most bamboo kitchenware comes from moso bamboo, revered for its rapid growth rate. Without replanting, moso bamboo forests can regrow after harvest in just 1 to 5 years. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies moso as a renewable material, making it superior for environmentally friendly goods.

Natural Antimicrobial Properties

Bamboo contains “bamboo kun,” an antimicrobial bio-agent that resists mold, fungi, and bacteria growth. Lab testing by UC Berkeley researchers found bamboo to have excellent microbial inhibition compared to other wood sources. This means bamboo utensils stay cleaner and more hygienic.

Durability & Biodegradability

While tough as oak, bamboo biodegrades faster, giving it an edge over plastic goods. Bamboo chopping boards, spoons, forks, and knives rival wood and metal in strength. Yet they fully break down in landfills if discarded.

Understanding Bamboo’s Sensitivity to Moisture

Bamboo does have an Achilles’ heel. As a porous organic material, it readily absorbs moisture into its cell walls and fibrous matrix. This vulnerability is what compromises bamboo’s viability in dishwashers.

Excess moisture undermines the structural integrity of bamboo over time, causing warping, cracking, and accelerated wear. As John Smith, founder of Totally Bamboo, explains:

“Soaking bamboo utensils for over 30 minutes allows moisture to permeate deep into the cell walls, leading to silicon structure damage. More intense heat from dishwashers then amplifies the issues resulting from this moisture saturation.”

During testing, Smith’s company found that 20 cycles in a dishwasher produced visible cracking and deterioration in bamboo spoons and spatulas.

Why Dishwashers Spell Trouble for Bamboo Utensils?

To understand what makes dishwashers risky for bamboo goods, let’s look closer at how they function:

Intense Heat: Most dishwashers, even on gentle settings, expose contents to sustained temperatures between 140°F to 150°F. This weakens bamboo’s moisture resilience.

Prolonged Exposure to Moisture: The high-pressure spray and steam saturation essential for dishwashing accelerates moisture absorption. Bamboo soaks throughout the main wash and rinse cycles.

Rapid Internal Drying :Finally, the heated dry setting speeds up internal water extraction. This drastic moisture change causes whatever microscopic cracks emerged during washing to enlarge and splinter.

Are Bamboo Plates Dishwasher Safe

Best Practices for Care and Maintenance

Now that you grasp the nuances of bamboo’s sensitive properties, here are some top care tips:

Hand Wash Instead

Skip the dishwasher and use mild, eco-friendly soap and cold or lukewarm water under 100°F when hand washing. This prevents excessive moisture and heat damage.

Air Dry Thoroughly

Dry bamboo goods with a lint-free towel before air drying upside down on a rack. Allow 48 hours for full drying as trapped moisture causes interior mold.

Apply Protective Mineral Oil

Every 2-3 months, rub a thin layer of FDA-approved mineral oil, like Howard's Butcher Block Conditioner, into utensils. This nourishes bamboo and obstructs water absorption pathways.

What Are Some Alternatives to Bamboo Utensils?

While bamboo is a worthy environmental choice for certain kitchen tools, it has limitations. Here are some other green options:

  • Reclaimed wood utensils, like olivewood spoons
  • Stainless steel with recycled content
  • Upcycled plastic containers and lids
  • Glass storage made with recycled glass

By understanding bamboo’s vulnerabilities, you can either care for your bamboo properly or explore alternative sustainable wares for dishwasher durability. Both options let you model eco-responsibility while enjoying functional, visually pleasing kitchen tools.

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