Can I Reuse Disposable Bamboo Utensils?

Wondering if it’s safe to reuse bamboo utensils? The Never Cook Naked guys explain why it’s probably better not to.

A collection of disposable bamboo utensils in a pile.

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Reusable Disposable

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: Are the disposable bamboo utensils now on the market reusable when washed in hot, soapy water? They’re a handsome, eco-conscious alternative to plastic throwaways, but I want to make certain I’m not mistaken in reusing them this summer.—Bamboo Babe

Dear Babe: We always applaud those who disregard advertising copy. But in this case, we’re at a loss over what part of the word “disposable” could be considered hype.

Fact: most bamboo dinnerware is not treated with sealants and thus is porous enough to absorb fats (which can go rancid), sugars (which can ferment), and proteins (which, actually, we don’t even want to go there). Do you really want to partake of that?

That said, some bamboo dinnerware, labeled with the ridiculous oxymoron “reusable disposable,” can indeed be gently cleaned. But we recommend you do so without any sanitizing detergent, which can seep below the surface and come back out at the most inopportune moment, like the next time a piece of pie is in your mouth. Some manufacturers suggest instead wiping the remnants of dinner off the forks or plates with a damp paper towel and warm water, then using the bamboo products again. Truth be told, we don’t feel that’s truly sanitary. Sure, you can give it a whirl. Maybe you’ve got a good supply of Cipro at home. But we don’t. So when you invite us over to your next social distanced backyard gathering, open a new package for us, please.

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Curious to learn more solutions to culinary conundrums? Just ask! Drop us a comment below.

Originally published July 19, 2012.


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