Wood cutting boards are a stunning addition to any kitchen, and they're a step above the average plastic cutting board. But they also come with some special care—they can't just be thrown in the dishwasher like their plastic cousins, nor should raw meat be prepped on them. However, with attention and regular cleaning, your wooden cutting board can last for years. Here's how to clean it.
How Often Should You Clean Wood Cutting Boards?
With the proper care, wood cutting boards can become an heirloom piece in the kitchen. But the key words here are 'proper care'—wooden cutting boards should be wiped down and given a quick clean after every use and deep-cleaned regularly. But the frequency of the deep clean detailed below varies depending on your use. If you use a wooden cutting board almost every day, consider cleaning it monthly. If your usage is more weekly (or bi-weekly), consider deep-cleaning it seasonally.
What You'll Need
Ready to return your wooden cutting boards to their tip-top shape? Here's what you'll need to get started:
- Clean sponges
- Hot water
- Dish soap
- Bench scraper
- Stiff scrubbing brush
- Coarse salt
- White vinegar
- Mineral oil
- Paper towels
Step 1: Give It a Quick Clean
Before you give your wooden cutting boards a deep clean, do a quick surface-level clean first. To do this, brush off any excess food or crumbs, then dip a sponge in hot, barely-soapy water and scrub the board. Remove excess water with a bench scraper, then flip the cutting board over and do the same thing on the reverse side.
Step 2: Scour the Board
Next, grab a stiff scrubbing brush and your salt. Generously sprinkle coarse salt all over the top of your board, and wet your scrubbing brush. Using all the elbow grease you can muster, scrub and scour the salt into your board. This will help remove any stuck-on food bits or stains. Rinse with a wet, clean sponge before continuing.
Step 3: Disinfect and Deodorize
Cuts and scrapes on wood cutting boards can harbor bacteria and germs from your food, so it's important to disinfect it regularly. Plus, wood can also trap food odors (like onions or garlic) and get smelly after a while. Luckily, white vinegar can help with both. Pour white vinegar into an empty dish and soak a clean sponge with it. Then, scrub the vinegar sponge all over the cutting board, remove excess liquid with a bench scraper and let air-dry.
Don't use your wood cutting board to cut or prep raw meat. Doing this requires a stronger disinfectant, like bleach, to rid the board of any food-borne bacteria, and bleach or other similarly strong disinfecting agents can seriously damage your wood.
Step 4: Oil the Board
Once your wooden cutting board is completely dry, it's time to protect it. Oiling your board helps the board stay clean for longer, and it protects it from water damage. Apply mineral oil (or another food-safe oil) to the surface of your cutting board and rub it in with a paper towel. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe off any excess un-absorbed oil with a clean paper towel.
How to Keep Wood Cutting Boards Clean Longer
If properly cared for, wooden cutting boards can last for years. But to ensure this, you'll need to keep your cutting board clean. Here's how to keep your wooden cutting board clean longer:
- Don't put in the dishwasher. Though it may seem like an easy way to clean your wood cutting board, the hot water and harsh cleaners of a dishwasher can seriously damage your board. Take the time to clean it by hand instead.
- Don't let stains sit. After cooking or using your cutting board, don't let food scraps or stains sit. Doing this not only makes it harder to clean when you do wipe it down, but it also increases the likelihood of staining and odors as well.
- Remember to protect it. After you've gone to all the hard work of cleaning your wooden cutting board, don't forget to seal it with mineral oil. Doing this helps to prevent water damage, staining and odors.