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Wood cutting boards are a tool you will find in most modern and classic kitchens. Butcher blocks themselves have been around approximately since the 1880s, and have evolved to the chopping boards we use today. Because of the variety of materials cutting boards are made from, there are dos and don’ts to consider when cleaning them.
Ensuring your wood cutting boards remain a lasting part of your kitchen toolset requires proper cleaning and maintenance. In this article, we’ll discuss what makes wood cutting boards better than many popular plastic cutting boards in today’s kitchen, while covering quick and easy methods to keeping your cutting board clean, sanitized, and looking great.
Let’s get started!
What makes wood cutting boards unique
Knives take on a lot of the work in the kitchen. They have to be built tough enough to tackle all the cutting, chopping, spreading, and slicing. Anything that comes into contact with knives shouldn’t be as hard as the knife itself. A good cutting board has to be made of a dense material but with a slight yield.
Cutting boards must withstand daily use but not damage your knife’s blade. The perfect answer to this problem is the use of wood, which is one reason that makes a wood cutting board ideal when compared to plastic cutting boards.
Wood is naturally strong and hard-wearing. There are even several types of wood that exhibit self-healing properties against constant knife cutting. The grain and fibers of these special types of wood will tend to close back up on their own. It’s like cutting board magic.
If appropriately maintained, a wooden cutting board can be a functional and beautiful part of your kitchen that lasts a lifetime.
Products needed to clean & protect a wood cutting board
Using the right products to clean a cutting board made of wood is essential. Because wood is porous and your food will be on the board, you want to make sure you are not using anything that can soak into the wood and cause damage or contaminate your food. Below are the best products to have on hand for how to clean a wood cutting board:
- Bench scraper or metal spatula
- Mild, unscented dish soap
- Clean dishtowel
- Paper towel
- Food grade beeswax and/or mineral oil
- Kosher salt
These eight products and kitchen staples are going to be the key to getting your cutting board clean, deodorized, and looking great! Follow below in the next section for step-by-step cleaning instructions.
4 steps to clean a wood cutting board
Giving your wood cutting board a good cleaning and conditioning can take a few minutes, but if you are an avid cook, it will be worth all the effort you put into it. The best quality cutting boards can be an investment piece, and many times are displayed prominently in your kitchen. The following process will keep your wood cutting board beautiful and functional for the years to come.
- Use a bench scraper to remove any stuck-on food bits.
- To deodorize your board sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt on the board, squeeze the juice of a cut lemon onto the board and use the cut side of the lemon to rub the mixture over the board. This should create a paste. Let the paste dry, and then scrape the dry paste off using a bench scraper.
- Gently scrub your board using hot soapy water and a sponge. Make sure to wash both sides of the cutting board. Even if you only use one side, washing one side only can cause uneven drying and warping.
- Rinse the board and thoroughly dry it with a clean dishtowel. Let air dry completely before moving on to the next optional step.
Three steps for oiling and waxing your cutting board.
These next steps only need to be done when your board is looking dry or is no longer as waterproof as it should be. You can tell this by placing a few drops of water on the cutting board. If the water beads up, then you are fine. If it disperses or soaks into the wood, it is time to oil and wax the board.
- Apply a generous amount of mineral oil to the board and rub the oil evenly over the whole board, including both sides. Place board upright for several hours or preferably overnight.
- The next day use a clean paper towel to remove excess oil.
- If you have beeswax on hand, you can apply it to the board to seal the oil in.
By following the above steps to clean and condition your wood cutting board, you can be sure it will last a long time and be there for all your culinary endeavors!
What not to do when cleaning your wood cutting board
So there are some things to avoid when caring for a wood cutting board. Some may seem like common sense, but they can be easier to do accidentally than you think. By avoiding these mistakes, you can make sure you do not damage or shorten the life of your wooden cutting boards.
Avoid these steps when caring for a wooden cutting board:
- Never put it in the dishwasher. This will cause warping and/or cracking, especially in boards that are pieced together.
- Avoid submerging in a sink full of water. Like the dishwasher, this will cause warping or cracking.
- Do not use high-fat oils to re-coat the board. This includes olive, vegetable, peanut, coconut, or corn oil. These oils will oxidize and go rancid. The result is a smelly and unsafe cutting board that will be unusable for food prep.
- Never use oils that are not food-safe. Mineral oil from a hardware store is a no-no, as is baby oil.
Avoiding these four tips will help to keep your wood cutting board safe to use and in tip-top condition.
The steps for how to clean a wood cutting board are simple, effective, and can keep your favorite cutting board not only looking great but performing great. With a few specialty products and a few household items, it is affordable and quick.
You may also be interested in our guide for how to clean a cast-iron skillet. Our kitchens are the heart of our homes. Keeping the tools we use clean and beautiful makes preparing meals more effortless, enjoyable, and tidier. Also, be sure to share this guide with family and friends that may cook in your home!