We know how it feels…
You buy an appealing maple or walnut wood board. You’re thrilled to have replaced your cheap, low-quality cutting boards with superior hardwood.
But after a few days of using it, it has cracked or bowed… which is unfortunate because you spent good money on it. The board has lost its natural luster and its original smooth finish is pulling apart. Not only that, it’s smelling garlic-like, making it hard to cut on.
Does this sound familiar?
Although wooden boards have advantages over plastic boards – wood bows, splinters, or gives off a rancid smell when not given proper care. Many people simply forget to give their wooden board proper care. Without proper care, the board picks up rancid smells; its center bends or its surface cracks.
The good news is… you can keep your board from bowing, cracking, and free from rancid smells by following proper care routine.
Cleaning and maintaining a wooden board is pretty straightforward. But there are several dos’ and don’ts’ on cutting board care instructions to follow.
Cutting board care dos and don’ts to avoid warping and cracking
Quick wash with dish soap
Give your board a quick wash with dish soap after every use. Never leave it sitting dirty in the kitchen countertop or sink to keep food particles, juices, and odors from penetrating the wood.
No Dishwasher – Instead, hand wash
As a precaution, always hand-wash the board. Never use the dishwasher. Using a dishwasher will ruin your board.
The excess heat causes the board to over dry, so it bows or cracks. You might have used a dishwasher before and all looked fine. But the board’s quality deteriorates every time you clean with a dishwasher.
Do not submerge in water
Never soak a wooden board in the water. The fibrous cells in the wood siphon moisture, causing the wood to swell. As the wood dries out, it shrinks – causing it to splinter. If submerged in water, wood traps moisture can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Always wash both sides
There is no harm in using both sides of the cutting board. Still, even if you chop on one side of your cutting board, always wash both sides. That’s because washing one side will make the board dry evenly, making the wood bend.
Do not leave wet – wipe clean, and dry upright
Proper drying is necessary for a wooden board. Never leave it wet. Humid environments deform the board's quality because of the excess moisture. Excess moisture will damage the board. The recommended moisture content is around 6 – 8%.
Once you've rinsed the board with hot water or a wet piece of cloth, leave it standing on its edges to air dry. It’s okay to leave the board to dry for as long as possible. But never let it over-dry as it crack or split.
Don’t place it on a wet countertop.
As a precaution, never leave the board lying flat on your countertop to dry. The bottom side will soak up with moisture, causing the board to swell into a U-shape (cupping).
This happens when the upper side dries faster than the bottom one.
NOTE: To fix a warped cutting board that you left on the countertop, place it facing down with the convex side up. The concave side will soak up moisture and swell, flattening out the board. But once it flattens out, don’t leave it lying flat on the kitchen countertop.
Oil the board regularly
Wooden boards lose their original tarn the more you clean and sanitize them. But it’s okay to oil them whenever needed, something that’s a routine. This not only helps preserve your board’s luster and shine, but also it extends its lifespan.
If you skip the routine, the board will dry out and turn brittle, and eventually it will crack or bend. Also, it’s much easier to pick up smells.
Oiling saturates the wood fibers, sealing the pores that can otherwise trap fats, protein, and bacteria. Also, food particles and juices cannot penetrate the wood. An oiled board is easier to clean too.
How To Oil and Maintain your wooden cutting board
Food-grade mineral oil is our best recommendation for seasoning your board. Food-grade mineral oil has non-drying properties, so it penetrates the wood fibers, hydrating the cells. The effect is: the wood doesn’t dry up or crack. Also, mineral oil offers a protective layer that prevents food juices from penetrating the wood fibers.
CAUTION: Never use vegetable or nut-based oil to treat your cutting board.
That’s because vegetable oils spoil and become rancid and toxic. Avoid all vegetable oils except : re-fractionated coconut oil, also called MCT oil, linseed oil and walnut oil. ALL these are SAFE.
Steps on oiling your board with mineral oil
- Clean and dry the board. Ensure the board is well cleaned, sanitized, and dry.
- Apply oil coating. Use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel and gently apply a film of mineral oil on the board's surface, following a circular motion. Soak the entire surface until the board can’t soak anymore oil. Excess oil will remain on the surface.
- Give it time to soak. Leave the board to absorb the oil. You could apply oil coating in the evening, right before you go to bed, and then wipe it the following day or even better after 36 hours. Also, apply at least two coats of oil, but boards more than 1-inch thick could need 3-4 coats.
- Wipe off excess oil. Grab a clean cloth and paper towel and wipe off excess oil from the board. Your board should not feel wet or sticky after wiping.
- Apply cutting board conditioner. Apply a cutting board conditioner or beeswax. (Optional).
Recommendation: At Mevell, you can get both cutting board oil and conditioner. Our conditioner contains Food-Grade Oil and Beeswax – it hydrates and seals the boards deeper and faster than competitors.
Steps on seasoning with mineral oil and beeswax combo
Alternatively, you can make a combo of mineral oil and beeswax butter for waxing.
Things you need:
- Measuring cup.
- Small saucepan.
- Glass jar.
- Spatula or knife.
- A clean piece of cloth, e.g. cotton.
- Our mineral Oil and cream applicator
- 2 cups of yellow beeswax .
- Using a small saucepan, stir ¼ cup of beeswax with 1 cup of mineral oil on low heat. Keep at it until all the beeswax has dissolved. Make sure not to heat at high temperatures – the beeswax will decolorize.
- Once the beeswax has completely dissolved, turn off the heat. Let it rest for a minute or two. Next, empty the content in a Jar and seal it off; let it rest for several hours.
- Get a piece of cloth, apply the paste and rub it on the board’s face. Rub the paste in a circular motion until its surface absorbs the paste; then leave it for 5-15 minutes. Oil both sides, plus the edges.
- Grab a clean cotton cloth or our cream applicator – then rub the paste following a circular motion. Keep at it until you have a smooth finish. Two coats are okay.
- Leave the board for a few hours to soak the paste. This keeps your board soft with a wet-look luster, blended with a honey scent.
Note: We recommend you treat your boards with mineral oil and beeswax combo once every week for the first month – for a new chopping board. After the first month, you can treat your cutting board once or twice every month, depending on how often you use it.
With time you’ll know when your board needs to be seasoned. For instance, maple boards are ready for oiling once they start to get a lighter color.
How to clean your wood cutting board after use
Keep your cutting boards clean to avoid food poisoning. If the board is left unwashed or if it’s not sanitized after cutting raw foods like meat, it can harbor bacteria. Bacteria can hide where there are cracks, cuts or crevices.
Habitual care of your cutting boards minimizes the chances of getting sick through food-borne illness caused by cross-contamination. Also, routine care maintains your board’s rich-brown hue, giving it a lasting nature.
Method 1: Cleaning your board after cutting veggies, fruits, breads, and cheese
This method is best for cleaning your board after you’ve chopped things like fruits, bread, cheese, and herbs.
For this method, you only need to give your board a quick hand-wash with hot, soapy water. It works well at eliminating grimes and stains. But your board will need deep sanitizing if you’re dealing with persistent stains and oils.
If your board is yet to lose its luster or smell rancid, a quick hand wash with hot, soapy water works fine. Hot water and dish soap removes Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs).
Things you need:
Step 1: Run hot, soapy water on the board.
Step 2: Next, pour the dish soap on the board; then scrub its surface using a brush or sponge.
Recommendation: Mevell has a special scrubbing brush, designed with Tampico fibers. It’s stiff and abrasive for a serious scrub yet soft on the board.
Step 3. Dry off excess water using a clean, dry kitchen towel. You could spray some vinegar before you dry it off with a sponge or kitchen towel.
Step 4. Leave the board to air dry upright.
Step 5. Treat the board with mineral oil and a cutting board conditioner.
Method 2: Sanitizing and deodorizing your board after cutting meat, steak, fish...
If you cut meat, steaks, poultry, and fish on the board, scrubbing with hot water and dish soap will not get all the stains and smells that penetrate the wood. In this case, you will need to disinfect the board with solutions like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, diluted bleach or baking soda. Sanitizing and deodorizing will purge persistent stains and lingering smells.
N/B: Before you sanitize your board, make sure it’s clean and fully dry.
Sanitizing using lemon and salt
Lemon is a powerful, natural cleaning agent. Citric acid contained in lemons has antibacterial and antiseptic effects. Scrubbing with lemon leaves surfaces sparkling clean with a refreshing fragrance.
Things you need:
- A piece of lemon.
- Warm water.
- Sponge or paper towel.
- Sprinkle the board with coarse salt. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the coarse salt on the surface of the cutting board.
- Add lemon. Slice the lemon in half, squeeze its juice all over the salt.
- Scrub with lemon. Let the board rest for like 5 minutes, and then scrub its surface using the half lemon.
- Rinse. Use a clean wet sponge to rinse the board.
- Dry. Leave the board to air dry upright.
- Mineral oil treat. Treat the board with mineral oil and a cutting board conditioner.
It sounds unrealistic to sanitize a 2-inches thick, end-grain board with half a lemon, especially if you have just carved a big turkey on it – but it works.
Disinfecting with vinegar and Hydrogen peroxide
Always stock yourself with a spray bottle of undiluted vinegar.
Apart from being a popular sanitizer in the kitchen, vinegar is an organic solvent with hydrolyzing properties. It also has a bactericidal effect that fights against bacterial food poisoning.
Vinegar alone is a great solution for bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and E.Coli. And it can be effective at purging persistent odors and stains too.
In cases where you feel like vinegar is not enough and you want to kill 99.9% of pathogens, a one-two punch spray of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide would do it.
Things you need:
Step 1: Get two spray bottles – fill one with undiluted white
vinegar and the other with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Step 2: Using a paper towel, wipe the board to remove debris.
Step 3: Next, spray the board’s surface with vinegar solution. Right after, follow through with a spray from the hydrogen peroxide solution.
Step 4: Let the board sit for 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Use a paper towel to wipe the surface clean.
Step 6: Leave the board to air dry upright.
Step 7: Treat the board with mineral oil and a cutting board conditioner.
N/B: Never combine the two solutions. Mixing them makes a different solution that isn’t as powerful. Also, it can have an irritating effect. Instead, use the two cleaning solutions separately.
Sanitizing with a bleach solution
You can also use a bleach solution to sanitize your board (not our favorite method as it can potentially change the wood color).
Things you need:
- Two tablespoons of liquid bleach.
- 1 Gallon of water.
- Paper towel or bristle brush preferably.
- Clean the board. Wash the board clean with hot soapy water to remove debris and grime.
- Mix the ingredients. In 1 gallon of water, add 2 teaspoons of liquid bleach.
- Scrub with a brush. Using a bristle brush, gently rub and buff the bleach mixture on the board’s face.
- Leave it to soak. Give the board 2 minutes to soak in the solution.
- Rinse. Rinse with a paper towel or hand wash with water. From there, wipe with a clean, dry cloth and leave the board to air dry upright.
Note: Bleach is great sanitizer, but it can also discolor the wood, especially Walnut boards. Also, bleach is a chemical – it’s poisonous and corrosive; also it can leave a foul smell if not used in the right amounts. Follow safety measures when sanitizing with bleach.
Disinfecting with baking soda solution
You can disinfect your board using baking soda. Baking soda removes unwanted stains, greasy spots, and foul smells like fish and garlic flavors.
Things you need:
- Coarse salt (¼ to ½ cup).
- Baking soda (¼ to ½ cup).
- Water – 1 to 2 tablespoons.
- Lemon (Optional).
- Mineral oil or any other food-grade oil.
Step 1: Pour about ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda on your board’s surface. Large-sized boards will use more baking powder.
Step 2: Cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juices on the board.
Step 3: Scour the board’s entire surface using the lemon. Alternatively, you can scrub with a slightly wet sponge.
Step 4: Rinse with a clean wet paper towel – follow it with a dry one and leave the board to air dry upright.
Alternative method: Use baking soda paste.
Step 1: Mix salt (¼ cup) with two tablespoons baking soda and 2-3 hot tablespoons of hot water.
Step 2: Scrub the board’s face using the baking soda paste.
Step 3: Next, wipe with a wet cloth, following through with a dry cloth.
Step 4: Leave the board to air dry upright.
Now that you know what to do to keep your board free from germs, stains, and rancid smells -- it’s time to get to work. If you bought a wooden board recently, follow our cutting board care instructions and recommendations to keep the board in the best condition.
Mevell has your back with all that you need. Our product catalog features hand-crafted, cutting boards made from Canadian maple and walnut woods – both end-grain and flat grain. Our boards are purely customized for the kitchen enthusiast with an elegant taste.
Also, in stock we have cutting board oil and conditioner – which restores and maintains your board’s luster, giving it that alluring, food-safe finish. Our cutting board oil and conditioner combines organic beeswax and Food-grade Mineral oil for a smooth finish.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to grab a special cutting board cleaning brush, designed with Tampico brushes for a solid scrub.