A quality cutting board is an investment that you’re going to be using a lot. Wooden cutting boards are meant to last a very long time with the proper cleaning and care. We don’t mean running it under water or wiping it off every time you use it. There is a process you should use to keep your cutting board in top-notch condition.
It’s important to remember that cleaning a cutting board isn’t just about removing food from it. While wooden cutting boards are less likely to harbour bacteria, it’s still possible. From cross-contamination to foodborne illnesses, there’s plenty of reason to ensure you’re keeping your cutting board clean.
Learning how to clean cutting boards properly is simple. Once you know the steps, a good rule of thumb is to clean and condition your cutting board every other week. So, let’s look at how to clean your cutting boards to maintain their quality and life span.
Why Is it Important to Clean Your Cutting Boards?
Cleaning your cutting board is an important step in maintaining the quality and safety of the board. You’ve spent time choosing the right board, and you want it to last. Properly cleaning a cutting board will ensure that it looks and works the best it can for as long as possible.
It’s also important because cutting boards can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re using your board for different types of food, cross-contamination, and foodborne illnesses can spread through to board. So please keep your cutting boards clean!
Wash the Cutting Board
To start, you’re going to need to wash the cutting board. The FDA recommends washing cutting boards with hot and soapy water after every use. Most people think you only need to wash the top because it’s the only part you use. What they don’t realize is that this can cause damage to cutting boards.
Washing only the top of a cutting board can cause it to warp. Not only does a warped board look bad, but it also creates an uneven surface. Your cutting board will also rock when you try to use it, causing safety issues. When washing your cutting board, be sure to follow these steps:
Use Warm Water and Soap
First, you should wash the cutting board with warm water and soap. Make sure to scrub the top, sides and bottom of it. Use the soap to scrape off any dried food that may be stuck to the cutting board.
Disinfect the Cutting Board
Next, disinfect the cutting board to remove any bacteria that may be growing on it. Wooden cutting boards have many grooves that can become home to nasty bacteria without you realizing it. You can use white vinegar to disinfect. We don’t recommend soaking your cutting board because it could lead to damage.
Scrubs the Stains
Wooden cutting boards can stain very easily, so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible. For example, if you’re cutting a batch of tomatoes you want to clean the stains right away. Otherwise, your board will have red splotches forever. Stains will also be more difficult to remove the longer you wait to clean them.
One of the best things to use for stains is baking soda. Sprinkle the surface with it, and use a rough sponge to clean off the stains. Rinse, and you should be good to go.
After your cutting board is clean, let it air dry overnight. Make sure both the bottom and top surfaces are exposed to the air so moisture doesn’t get locked in.
We should also note that you must hand wash a cutting board. DO NOT put it in the dishwasher. The combination of hot water and dish detergent chemicals can damage it and decrease its lifespan.
Oil and Condition Your Cutting Board
A good rule of thumb is to leave the cutting board out overnight to dry. In the morning, it’s time to oil the cutting board. This step is crucial in making sure your board stays in tip-top shape. Oiling the board is going to keep it hydrated and protect the wood.
The best thing to use for this is food-grade mineral oil. Mineral oil is a petroleum product like Vaseline. Don’t let that scare you! You aren’t going to be using it in the food you’re cutting, it’s merely to protect the board and seal the wood.
When you’re looking for mineral oil, make sure that it’s food grade. Industrial mineral oil is meant for machines and is not going to be good for you or your cutting board. The best option for a cutting board conditioner is to use a combination of mineral oil and beeswax.
Using a mineral oil with beeswax will give your cutting board a better shine while also waterproofing it. Mineral oil will do the job, but beeswax gives it that extra kick. Keep in mind this isn’t something you have to apply every time you rinse off your cutting board, but you should condition your board anytime you do a deep clean.
We recommend our mineral oil board conditioner which is made of mineral oil and beeswax. When you buy one of Bob’s end grain cutting boards, we include one container for you to try! Here are the steps for applying mineral oil to clean cutting boards.
Apply the Oil
First, you’ll want to apply a small amount of mineral oil to the center of your board. Less is more when it comes to cutting board conditioners. If it doesn’t look like it’s enough, it probably is. Remember, you can always add more if you need to!
Rub It In
Next, grab a rag or use your hands to rub in the conditioner. Make sure you get both the top and bottom of the board along with the sides. Every inch of your board should be covered in the conditioner to make sure it’s protected properly.
Let the Cutting Board Absorb the Oil
Once you’re done applying the oil, you’ll need to let it soak in before you can use it. This is to ensure that your clean cutting board is properly protected before you begin using it again. You can also use the conditioner on your utensils if you have extra leftovers. Let the board soak overnight to make sure it’s absorbed well enough.
When Should I Clean My Cutting Board?
Now that we know how to clean a cutting board, when are you supposed to do it? When we’re looking at when to clean a cutting board, it’s important to remember that cleaning and conditioning the board are different things.
There’s no cut-and-dry answer to this question and at the end of the day, it’s based on preference and how much time you have. You should also consider how often you’re using your cutting board.
You should at least be rinsing it off after every use. Especially if you’re handling meat which could leave harmful bacteria behind. A deep clean should happen once every couple of weeks if you’re using the cutting board daily.
As for oiling and conditioning your cutting board, it’s again depending on use. We recommend oiling your cutting board around once a month. The more you wash your board, the more often you should oil it.
Oiling your cutting board is going to help hydrate the wood, so if you live in a dry climate you may need to do it more often, as well.
To sum it up, keeping your cutting board clean is going to help it have a long lifespan. With proper care, a quality wooden cutting board could last your entire life and then some. If the board is beginning to crack, oil can help but it may be time to replace it.
Make sure you’re keeping your cutting board clean not only for quality but for safety as well. If you’re interested in trying our mineral oil conditioner, head over to the Wooden Things by Bob website to learn more!