Wood cutting boards are wonderful cooking tools that look lovely on your kitchen’s walls or countertops. But if you want to keep that luster and sustain their working life, they need a little TLC every now and then. But cutting board maintenance is easier than you think and takes almost no time to do. To help you get started on preserving your board, here are a few maintenance tips for natural wood cutting boards.
The Never Evers
Let’s begin with what you should never do to keep your custom-made wood cutting boards clean and in good shape. First and foremost, never stick a wood (or any other material) cutting board in a dishwasher. When you put a cutting board in the dishwasher, you expose it to both extreme heat and water, which can induce cracks, loosen glue, and warp or damage the board. Don’t leave it in the sink, or the wood will absorb water, crack, and warp.
Wipe It Off After Each Use
If you’re cutting something dry, like bread or other foods that don’t leak or drip, just wipe it off with a towel and put it away. If you cut something more saturated, like fruit, vegetables, or meat, use soapy water (dish detergent is fine, don’t use anything stronger) and then rinse and dry it immediately after cutting. You can soak the board underwater, but don’t leave it there, and dry it with a towel right away. Leave it on its side so that it dries faster, but again, not in the sink! Avoid “cross-contamination” by cleaning the board between slicing and dicing, especially if you’re cutting meat. Wash the board immediately and thoroughly after you use it so certain flavors and scents don’t get locked in and turn up later. Vinegar or lemon solutions are good ways to sanitize and deodorize the board as well.
Stains and Buildup
Sometimes stains show up on your board or ingredients cake and build up. Scrubbing sponges are safe to use on cutting boards, so go at buildup with vigor. You can remove stains by dousing your board with baking soda and giving it a good wipe and scrub with a sponge or cloth. Again, if your board is tough or self-healing, it’s more likely to suffer damage from your knives than a sponge.
When considering maintenance tips for natural wood cutting boards, don’t overlook the benefit of giving it an oil change. Specifically, wipe it down with food-grade mineral oil to keep the wood conditioned, water-resistant, and looking good. Don’t use a food-based product like vegetable oil or a similar cooking product—otherwise, it will build up and smell awful. Pour a large drop of oil in the center of the board and then rub it into and all over the board. The wood will absorb the oil, so keep at it! When you’re done it’ll, look brand new. Do it as often as needed, but eight times a year is a good starting point.