A cutting board is a kitchen necessity. Whether it's plastic, glass, stone, or wood — cutting boards add functionality and aesthetic appeal to your kitchen.
The jury is still out on which type is the best cutting board for everyday use. However, the choice usually comes down to wood or plastic. Of the two, wood is often a safer choice.
That’s because wooden cutting boards pose a lower risk of holding on to pathogens than plastic when properly maintained.
So how do you safely use and maintain your wooden cutting boards? What's the best way of cleaning them? Is there anything you shouldn't do? Let’s dig deeper into wood cutting board cleaning dos and don’ts.
To keep your wood cutting boards clean and well maintained, here’s what you should never do:
A dishwasher typically runs at 150–160 °F. At these temperatures, the glue and bonding agents holding the wood particles start to disintegrate, causing the wood to warp or crack.
It will not only be harder to use a warped board, but the cracks make it unsafe too. That's because cracks can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Hand wash your cutting board soon after use with dish soap and water and rinse the board thoroughly when you’re done. Use a scourer or scraper to remove any hardened residue.
If the board smells off or has a lingering strong scent like a garlicky smell, you can take care of the smell with:
|Deodorizer||How to use it|
|Baking Soda||Rub a baking soda paste over the wooden cutting board and leave it for about 5 minutes. Then rinse it off and let it dry.|
|Lemon||Cover the board with a generous layer of plain or kosher salt and use the lemon to scrub.|
|Vinegar||Wash the board with equal parts vinegar and water.|
When you wash your wood cutting board, it absorbs water and expands. When it dries, it will start to contract until it returns to its original position.
As mentioned before, a cracked board is a health time bomb.
What you need to do instead is make sure the cutting board dries up evenly. Dry the board upright or leave it on the rack whenever you’re done washing it so it can bounce back.
Cross-contamination is when bacteria passes from one object to another. It’s especially dangerous if the germs are transferred to ready-to-eat foods.
For instance, bacteria from the juices of uncooked meat can transfer to your salad, causing food poisoning.
Each time you cut food on the board, you shouldn’t immediately use the same board to chop something else (to avoid cross-contamination). This is particularly true after you cut raw meat.
Here’s what you can do to avoid cross-contamination:
Scrub your cutting board with a kitchen scourer under running hot or warm water with soap after every use. Scrub harder on places where the board has cut marks and etchings. You can use any regular dishwashing detergent or antibacterial soap.
Tip: Since you’ll be washing it a lot, use a natural soap that won’t be harsh on your hands.
Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse the cutting board thoroughly with hot water. Turn the water up all the way to get the maximum water pressure.
Why not use cold water?
While hot water doesn’t kill any bacteria, it dislodges grime better than cold water. The more grime you can get out, the higher the chances of getting most bacteria out.
Remember to wash both sides of the board, even if you only used one side. Once you’re done, dry it with a cloth or paper towel and hang it in an upright position.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends sanitizing your cutting board to make absolutely sure you got all the germs out.
To do this, you need to soak the cutting board in a chlorine bleach solution, vinegar, or another strong disinfectant for a few minutes. Rinse it with water when you’re done and let it dry.
|Disinfectant||How to use it|
|Bleach||Put one tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water and soak for 5 minutes.|
|Vinegar||Mix white vinegar and water in a 1:4 ratio and soak for 5–10 minutes.|
|Hydrogen Peroxide||Add 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water and soak for 5–10 minutes.|
|Colloidal Silver||Spray on the surface of the board and let it dry.|
Pro Tip: Use a natural nontoxic hydrogen peroxide or colloidal silver sanitizing spray– it’s faster and easier.
See Also: Clean Your Cutting Board the Right Way
You should never leave your cutting board feeling extremely dry or flaky. That's because if the wood becomes dry and brittle, it gets easily damaged by knives or meat pounders.
To stop it from drying out, periodically oil the cutting board once or twice a month. Oiling helps to season and preserve the grains of wood in their natural state, making the cutting board last longer.
That said, you should never use food oil on your cutting board. Food oils like olive, peanut, or vegetable oil go bad really quickly and make the board smell horrible. Opt for mineral oil instead.
Spread some food-grade mineral oil on the board and leave it for a minimum of two hours. Then simply wipe off the oil and hang it to dry.
Check out this excellent quality Grandpa’s garden mineral oil for wood seasoning. You only need a few drops to last you a few months in between treatments.
Once you’re done oiling, it’s a good idea to condition the board with wax to keep it from absorbing excess moisture and stains. Virginia Boys Kitchen has the perfect range of natural waxes you can use.
See Also: Seasoning Your Wood Cutting Board
Soaking your wooden cutting board in the sink is an absolute no-no. Why?
Wood is a water-absorbent material. When you leave it to soak up the water, the wood will warp and eventually break.
If you need to remove caked-on residue, try scraping it off with an abrasive scrub instead.
Wood cutting boards need a bit of care to keep them in tip-top shape. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting beautiful, functional wood cutting boards for your kitchen.
Turn to Virginia Boys Kitchen for your cutting board cleaning and maintenance accessories.
Hurry and buy your cutting board care kitcomplete with soap, mineral oils, and deep cleaning spray.
While you’re there, why not add a new wood cutting board to your kitchen tools? One for fruits, one for bread, and a separate one for raw meat — it’s safer that way.
Here’s the best part — Virginia Boys Kitchen will plant a tree for every board you buy. Protect the environment and get a luxurious walnut cutting board in one fell swoop!
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