Wood Cutting Board Care

June 7, 2011 · 6 comments

Wood cutting boards are perfectly functional and perfectly sanitary if cared for properly. Maintenance of a wood cutting board is easy and will dramatically extend the life and beauty of one of your most used kitchen tools.

With normal household use, cutting boards will show scratches and wear. If you purchase a new two-sided board, choose one side for cutting and save your preferred side for serving. After years of use, most wood cutting boards can be lightly hand sanded with 120-150 grit sandpaper and re-oiled, and they will look as good as new.

Never leave your cutting board submerged in water because the excess moisture will make the wood to expand and later contract as it dries. This movement can cause it to crack or delaminate along glue joints. For light-duty cutting, simply wipe the board with a damp cloth. After chopping onions, meat, or anything else messy, hand wash with soap and hot water. Store your board in a dry location. Full strength vinegar is a great disinfectant, but it will also strip off any food-safe finish, so plan on re-oiling after sanitation.

This board (same as above) has no finish on it.

If your cutting board begins to dull, brush it with a generous coat of mineral oil, let the oil soak in, and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth or paper towel. Mineral oil is available in most drug stores. It is completely food-safe and won’t go rancid like olive oil or other vegetable oils. Walnut oil is also a great food-safe finish, but I’m hesitant to use it because of the growing number of folks with serious nut allergies.

For more information on food-safe finishes, I highly recommend reading this article from Fine Woodworking.

Keeping your board conditioned with mineral oil or other food-safe finish will not only improve its aesthetics, but it also provides a good moisture and bacteria barrier, keeping funk from penetrating the wood grain.

If you place very hot items on your board, burning or discoloration may occur.

These tips apply to caring for wooden spoons, too!

A little mineral oil makes a BIG difference.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

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Frazier Mark November 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Hi – just got two new cutting boards and have been using Clark’s and Boos board oil and waxes for the past week. I’d love to use coconut oil and have some questions. (a) will the coconut oil be absorbed, even though my boards have had several treatments with the oil and wax, and are my boards ruined now by the use of mineral oil? (b) I’ve always read that natural oils will turn rancid unless refrigerated. How is it that coconut oil does not? (c) does it matter if the coconut oil is organic and unrefined, or can I use non-organic or unrefined? (d) I find coconut oil has a very distinctive smell (like coconut!), and wouldn’t this affect their use with foods? (e) is occasional use of beeswax okay, if using coconut oil? Eager to hear your comments, as I want to get this right with my new boards. Thanks!


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