It's important to care for your wooden cutting board to keep it germ-free. Click here to learn more about how to clean your cutting board — the right way.
There’s a saying that there’s “more than one way to skin a cat.”
We hope you aren’t applying that saying to actually skinning cats (or any other cute furry creatures). But whatever you’re preparing to slice and dice, you’ll need a wooden cutting board for what comes next.
When you’re cutting raw meats of any kind from land or sea, you’ll have to know how to clean your cutting board the right way. This means not only a deep cleaning after the meal is done but also in between cuts.
There’s a lot of conflicting reports on how to clean your wooden cutting board. We’re going to cover all the ways you can clean your cutting boards and which is most effective.
Keep reading to the end to find out why!
1. Dish Soap and a Brush
Dish soap and a brush is a great go-to cleaning method for any situation. The only problem is that it isn’t sanitizing. So keep going ahead with rinsing, soaping, scrubbing, and rinsing on both sides of the cutting board. It won’t hurt and definitely helps keep the board clean.
For deeper bacteria, virus, mold, and biological sanitizing, though you’ll need to do a bit more. Looking clean doesn’t mean it is. Fortunately, regular soaps do kill some viruses, like the one that causes COVID-19.
2. White Vinegar
White vinegar, while very acidic, doesn’t quite do the job of sanitizing. What it is excellent for is getting rid of persistent odors, especially sour ones.
To get those odors eliminated, spread the vinegar liberally on each surface and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Once that’s done, give it a rinse and let it air dry in an upright position or dry it with clean paper towels.
Although, if you really want to avoid odors altogether, that means deep-cleaning your wooden cutting board properly following every meal prep.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent oxidizer, just like bleach or other chlorine solutions. However, it’s very short-lived when exposed to air and sunlight (thus the ugly brown bottles). Using it on a wooden cutting board is absolutely fine and kills most things you don’t want growing on there.
However, it doesn’t kill some really nasty stuff, like Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause symptoms hours or days later for up to three months. It’s even potentially life-threatening in immune-deficient people.
The only time hydrogen peroxide-doused surfaces will kill it is in the case of contact for one minute or more at full concentration and 130°F or 55°C. Fortunately, you can use it on practically any surface.
Since it breaks down quickly (into normal water) without residue, feel free to use it liberally in addition to any normal sanitizing routine you may have. However, keep in mind that oxidization is something you don’ want for metal.
Rusting is oxidization and occurs on steel, aluminum, chrome, and other metals and platings.
4. Lemon and Salt or Baking Soda
Like vinegar, this cleaning method is based on the idea that acid will kill bacteria. While citric acid is used to “cook” a ceviche, it doesn’t sanitize things instantly. It takes hours to cure a ceviche, for example.
Lemon and salt or even baking soda may help to eliminate odors and give it a nice fresh smell and feel. But it won’t disinfect a cutting board adequately, let alone a wooden one.
5. Chlorine Solutions or QUAT
Now for the crème de la crème and holy grail of cleaning — chlorine solutions and QUAT. We’ve already gone over that oxidizers can cause issues on metals and other materials that shouldn’t be oxidized.
That said, it’s an excellent disinfectant. In fact, it’s the only one (except for QUAT) that will kill everything on the cutting board without being above room temperature (77°F or 25°C).
QUAT is a sanitizing solution that you probably haven’t heard of unless you work in a commercial kitchen. This is the one that Michelin chefs get their equipment cleaned in (they have someone to clean for them, unlike yourself).
The only problem with Quat is that it has about a 10-second kill time. Otherwise, it’s fairly cost-effective, since one gallon makes about 500 gallons of solution. It also has an unlimited shelf life.
Bleach is also cheap and readily available. The only problem with it is that bleach binds to organic material quite easily, negating its oxidizing effect. This means you’ll have to use more, and it could end up bleaching out the color of your beautiful wood along the way.
After Cleaning Care for Your Wooden Cutting Board
After cleaning your wooden cutting board correctly you’ll have a little more to do. You’ll need to refresh and rejuvenate your wooden board with food-grade mineral oil and a protectant.
You should never use your dishwasher for wooden cutting boards or let them soak in water because it will warp and crack them. Part of this problem is from the board getting completely saturated before restabilizing in the open air.
If you let your board go on too long without restoring what oils the tree would have been producing on its own, you’ll end up with something that looks akin to driftwood.
Wood is primarily made of cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose. About 3% to 4% is extractives that work along with hemicellulose to keep cellulose and lignin intact. Mineral oil and wooden cutting board wax help to keep the lignin and cellulose intact artificially.
Wooden Cutting Board Disinfection: Class Dismissed
So, there you have it: five ways to clean your wooden cutting board and wood cutting board care after it’s done being sanitized.
This is true no matter your type of cutting board, like a large wood cutting board or round wood cutting board. Also, don’t forget your charcuterie boards and cheese boards!
You know what else you shouldn’t forget — browsing our awesome food articles written just for you! From Kuih Muih Malaysian treats to air frying, we’ve got recipes and tips to keep you stuffed and safe!