How to Clean Your Wood Cutting Board
Most of the time around Words with Boards HQ, we like to focus on the fun stuff you can do with your wood cutting boards – the meals you can make, the cocktails you can prep, the cheese boards you can display.
But we’re practical, too. To keep wood cutting boards great-looking and useful for years, it’s important to take good care of them. Careful maintenance, including cleaning, conditioning and even sanding, will keep wood cutting boards bacteria and odor-free, plus looking gorgeous.
Before we begin, if you don’t do anything else you need to know that you should NEVER put wood cutting boards in the dishwasher or let them sit in water. DO NOT put in dishwasher, it’s worth saying twice!
Keep It Clean
After each use, clean your cutting board with mild soapy water. If you are wondering, mild soap is one without harsh ingredients or artificial fragrance. Dawn or Ivory dish soaps fit the bill. Or a mixture of baking soda and water works great too!
To disinfect, you can also clean the board with a combination of water and vinegar, to remove leftover food residue, and wipe the board with hydrogen peroxide to disinfect.
You may also want to sprinkle the board with coarse salt, rub it with a lemon half, then wipe down the board with a damp cloth. Baking soda also works in this step. This will sanitize and deodorize the board, removing any lingering scents.
You can even let the salt sit overnight, and let the lemon juice and salt mixture sit on the board for five or ten minutes. This will draw out any bacteria that might be lurking beneath the surface.
Oil It Up
At the first signs of a dry cutting board you will need to apply food-grade mineral oil.
After the cutting board has been washed let it completely dry out in an upright position. Letting the board sit overnight is best to ensure a dry board. Once the cutting board is dry, apply a food-safe mineral oil (ours not only smells good but comes with a spray top so it’s easy to get in between those letters). Spray the cutting board oil all over both sides and in between the letters. Rub in with a clean lint-free towel. Let the oil soak in at least 5 minutes and then rub the excess off with a lint-free cloth.
Walnut, coconut and almond oils also work, though they may start to spoil after some time, as does beeswax and carnauba (or Brazil wax) but DO NOT use olive or vegetable oils to condition your cutting board; they become rancid fairly quickly.
Whenever the board feels dry, clean and oil it. This will happen more often with newer cutting boards than with older boards. It will also vary depending on how frequently you use the board – and even based on where you live – the higher the humidity, the less frequently you’ll need to condition the board. You might need to do this a couple times a year, or you might need to do it once a month. Just keep an eye on your board, you’ll know when it needs an oil bath.
After some use, your cutting board will likely end up with some scratches and slices – it’s just what happens! But don’t fret - you can restore your board to its original finish by hand-sanding the surface. Use 320 grit sandpaper all over the board. Use a damp cloth to wipe down, then once dry oil the board, following the instructions above.
Following these instructions will ensure that your wood cutting board stays glowing and gorgeous – not to mention immensely practical – for years and years.