Proper cutting board care is essential to keep the board from warping, absorbing unwanted odors and stains, or rotting away. In nature, wood carries nutrients and moisture throughout the tree. This stays with the wood when it is cut down and used in making an end grain cutting board. In high humidity environments the wood cutting board will soak up the ambient moisture in the air and swell. Likewise when there is a low level of humidity in the air the board will release moisture and shrink. These constant changes can make the wood cutting board fail if it you are not practicing proper wood cutting board care.

As we discussed in our wood cutting board seasoning page it important that you season your board monthly with good cutting board oil. Good cutting board oil consists of about a cup of food grade mineral oil with a half tablespoon of beeswax or paraffin wax melted down into the cutting board oil. Applying this oil to your wood cutting board on a monthly basis will do wonders in protecting it.

Cutting Board Care – Cleaning Your End Grain Cutting Board

For proper cutting board care, it is recommended that you clean and/or disinfect your wooden cutting board after every use.  Listed below are the recommended methods of cleaning a wooden cutting board.  For everyday cleaning a simple rinse of soap and water will do.  Other times you may need to disinfect with Vinegar, a diluted bleach solution of hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Soap and Water –  The quickest way to clean a wood cutting board is to just use a mild detergent and water.  Rinse the board with water and scrub the cutting surface lightly with a sponge or cloth.  Do not keep the water running on the board for long as this can damage the board.  DO NOT soak the board in your sink!  Dry the board off immediately and set upright to dry.
  2. Bleach and Water - If you need to disinfect the wood cutting board you can do so by mixing a diluted bleach solution.  Prepare a mixture of 5 cups water and one half cup bleach.  Wipe the cutting surface down with your bleach solution then rinse off.  Immediately wipe the board off and set it upright to dry.
  3. Vinegar - strong white vinegar can be used to disinfect your wood cutting board. Keeping a spray bottle handy filled with white vinegar and squirting the cutting surface a few times after each use is a good way to keep it free of bacteria. Surprisingly, according to this study written by Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D for the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, Vinegar was found to be better than soap and water at disinfecting a cutting board
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide - Hydrogen Peroxide is great for getting stains our of wood cutting boards as well as disinfecting them.  To remove stains rub the hydrogen peroxide on the stain with a cloth and then rinse the board and dry. It may take a couple of treatments spread out over time with hydrogen peroxide to remove the stain on the wood cutting board.

It is important to mention again to NEVER soak your end grain wood cutting board in water. The cutting board is porous and soaking it in water is the quickest way to ruin a beautiful cutting board.

Cutting Board Care – Getting Rid of Cutting Board OdorsCoarse Sea Salt for Cutting Board Care

Occasionally, your end grain wood cutting board may retain the odor of the food that has been cut on it. In that case there are a couple options for proper cutting board care ridding the board of the odor.

1. Lemon Juice - Rub the board with the juice to neutralize the odor and then rinse and the board.  Another acidic fruits juice may be used in its place but the strong odor of lemon is great at covering up unwanted odors.  This is a good option as it is the easiest on the wood of your end grain cutting board.

2. Coarse Salt - Rub the wood cutting board with the coarse salt.  Allow the the salt to stand on the board for an hour or two.  Wipe the salt off and rinse the board, setting it upright to dry.

3. Baking Soda - Spread Baking Soda over the cutting surface of the board.  Allow it to stand on the board overnight before brushing off and rinsing.  Some people suggest making a paste out of the baking soda and water and spreading it over the board and allowing that to sit.  However, this may damage the board and leaving dry baking soda on the board is all that is needed.

4. Vinegar - Vinegar also works to remove odors. Follow the information above under cleaning if you prefer to use Vinegar.

Cutting Board Care – Sanding Your Cutting Board

After some use your board may become rough with scratches and knife marks. To remove these scratches, wet fine grit sandpaper, 325 works well, and run the sandpaper with the grain evenly across the cutting surface. After you have smoothed out the scratches and knife marks season your board with wood cutting board oil and store it in a dry place.

If your board has suffered greater damage or wear and tear on the cutting surface it may be necessary to do a more intense refinishing of the board.  For that, use 50 grit sanding paper wrapped around a sanding block.  After you have sanded down the face of the board with the 50 grit, brush off the sawdust and use a 100 grit sandpaper on the board.  After the 100 grit, use the wet 325 to smooth out the board.  After refinishing your end grain cutting board, follow the instructions for seasoning you cutting board.

Cutting Board Care – Storage

Store your end grain wood cutting board in a dry place with a decent amount of air circulation. It is important that your board is able to breath and air out after use and cleaning. We recommend leaving your cutting board on your counter top so that it has adequate airflow. Most likely your end grain cutting board is a handsome addition to your kitchen and it’s presence on the counter top will be welcome sight.

Following the cutting board care tips above will make sure that your end grain cutting board is around for many, many years of use.