We typically clean our cutting boards by rinsing them with soap and water after each use, but many people don't realize that the cutting board is home to a variety of harmful microorganisms that thrive in the groves made by their knife. Wooden cutting boards are most susceptible to these microbes as sharp knives easily make scratches on wood.
In this article, we present our favorite hacks to clean, sanitize, and maintain a wood cutting board. These step-by-step guides will make it easy for you to clean a wooden cutting board, and maintain its pristine condition as well.
What You'll Need
Cleaning and sanitizing require different solutions and ingredients. Cleaning can be done with a food-safe abrasive scrubber like salt or baking soda, while an acidic solution like lemon juice or vinegar will work well to remove the grime. Disinfection requires a food-safe sanitizer, while a food grade mineral oil will help maintain your wood cutting boards!
- Salt or Baking soda
- Lemon or White vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Clean cloth
- Mineral oil (optional)
How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Cleaning
Using a Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution
Sprinkle baking soda all over the wood cutting board, and spray pure vinegar over it. The solution should react and bubble as you spray. Soak the cutting board in vinegar, and let it sit for 10 minutes. The soda will lift the stains from deep within the grooves of your cutting board, while vinegar kills bacteria and mold.
After the 10 minutes are up, use a brush to carefully scrub out the loosened grime. Rinse under cold water, and store your cutting board upright to dry. You can remove the vinegar smell by washing the board with some dish soap, but this is unnecessary as the smell should dissipate after drying.
Using a Rock Salt and Lemon Solution
Take a lemon, and cut it in half. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the wood cutting board, getting the juice deep into the grooves made by your knife. Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt, and use the lemon rind as a scrubbing tool.
Scrub the lemon rind onto the wood cutting board in circular motions. The salt will act as a scouring pad to remove the grime from deep in the pores of your wooden cutting board. Lemon is a food-safe cleaner that breaks down grime, while leaving a clean, pleasant smell. This method also deodorizes and kills mold as well.
Rinse the cutting board in cold water, and dry completely in an upright position on the drying rack. A paper towel can be used to blot out excess moisture from wood cutting boards, but storing the cutting board dry upright will do the trick.
Step 2: Sanitizing
Before we start, it is important to note that you should never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar or any other cleaning solution to kill bacteria. Once the board is dry, take a clean cloth, kitchen towel, or paper towel and apply hydrogen peroxide all over your wood cutting boards. Use the towel to wipe the cutting board clean, and let the solution sanitize the board.
Peroxide is a food safe disinfectant when used at a 3% concentration, so you don't have to worry about it contaminating your food. Once dried, peroxide evaporates completely as well, but not before the solution kills bacteria thriving on the board.
Step 3: Maintaining
To upkeep the state of your chopping board, and keep it from shrinking, use a mineral oil meant for wooden cutting boards. Unlike plastic cutting boards, wooden ones are not waterproof, and have a much more porous surface. Plastic cutting boards don't need polishing, but wooden ones do.
Drizzle a few drops of oil at a time to avoid using too much oil. Let the mineral oil soak into the wood, and spread evenly using paper towels. Let the oil set, and your chopping board should be water-resistant, glossy, and ready for chopping into vegetables or raw meat!
How to Maintain a Wooden Cutting Board
Wooden cutting boards are elegant, and they lend a natural aesthetic into your kitchen. However, they are also high maintenance, and are better used to plate finished dishes, or cut into soft, unscented foods as they have a tendency to absorb moisture and smells. They are also soft enough for knives to cut into easily, so take precautions when using a wooden board.
- Clean and sanitize after every use. Generally, everyday sanitizing can be done by running the board under hot water to kill any microbes left behind after cleaning.
- Stick to cutting fruit, vegetables, tofu, and other soft ingredients. Wooden boards are more prone to cuts when you use too heavy a force to cut into food. Cutting meat, bones, and tough root crops may cause your board to wear and tear.
- Store your wooden board dry, and in an upright position to prevent moisture pooling on the surface.
- Seal your wooden board with a food-safe oil to prevent mold growth, seal water out, and prevent stains.
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