You’d be hard-pressed to find a more useful—and beautiful—kitchen tool than a well-conditioned wooden cutting board. The natural surface creates a soft landing for a perfectly sharp knife, and the symmetric patterns of the wood gleam when cared for properly.
But good maintenance is key. Without attention, wooden boards can become infested with germs, and with repeated exposure to water and other wet ingredients, the surface can crack or warp.
Simply rinsing your cutting board likely isn’t enough to remove bacteria like salmonella. UC Davis researchers found that well-worn cutting boards with knife scratches can hold bacteria significantly longer than new cutting boards, and can be much more difficult to thoroughly clean, even with soap and water.
Luckily, keeping your wooden cutting board (and all wooden cooking utensils) in good shape is a simple process that uses a few household ingredients—including a handful that we sell on Thrive Market. We first read this tip on The Kitchn, and after trying it out in our own office kitchen, we were convinced.
To clean, deodorize and condition your wooden cutting board, you’ll only need five ingredients: lemon, salt, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and oil. (This method also works on wooden spoons, spatulas and any other wooden kitchen utensils.)
1. First, clean the board. Rinse it off with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, and if you think the board needs some extra cleaning (after cutting raw meats, for example) wipe it down with hydrogen peroxide.
2. Next, liberally sprinkle coarse salt all over the surface of the cutting board. Cut a lemon in half, and rub the open half of the lemon all over the surface of the wood. Squeeze some juice out of the lemon while you’re rubbing the board down.
3. Once you’re done scrubbing, let the lemon and salt sit on the board for a few minutes to remove any lingering odors from the wood.
4. Wipe off the wood with a damp cloth and start the conditioning process. According to Apartment Therapy, either walnut oil or almond oil will work. Pour a few drops onto a clean cloth, and gently wipe your board, going with the grain.
5. When you’ve covered the whole board, wipe any excess oil off the surface of the board.
Depending on how often you use your cutting board, and the type of climate you live in, you should condition your cutting board as often as once a month or as infrequently as twice a year. Do some research to find out what’s best for your cutting board!
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
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