Those who cook in any capacity will understand the immense value of having a simple cutting board handy. Whether a cutting board plays a role in a commercial kitchen, personal home kitchen or upscale restaurant, it’s part of a vital collection of culinary tools that keeps creating something savory a smooth process. Furthermore, a quality cutting board ensures that countertops are protected from the sharp end of knives as well as bacteria build-up that comes from food runoff over time.
Learning to take care of a well-used cutting board is a great first step in extending the amount of time this kitchen tool is viable. It’s also an important part of making sure that cutting boards remain free of harmful bacteria that could transfer to other foods during the preparation process.
With so many different types of cutting boards on the market, having a collection of tips for cleaning will make it easy to stay safe and keep cooking and cutting foods efficiently. From wooden boards to plastic, here are six steps that are sure to keep an overused cutting board in prime condition.
1. Wipe down wooden cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards are one of the most common types found in all kinds of kitchens. Durable and versatile, a wooden cutting board is wonderful for daily use, but the porous nature of wood makes it extra important to keep clean over time. One of the most frequent mistakes when it comes to cleaning a wooden cutting board is that it’s put in the dishwasher or submerged in the sink. Unfortunately, this leads to wood warping and splintering which cuts the lifespan of an efficient cutting board short. Effectively cleaning a wood cutting board begins with a light rinse of warm water and gentle dish soap. The water and soap combination applied by hand is just aggressive enough to remove residue without saturating the wood surface.
2. Pick paper towels for drying wooden cutting boards
Allowing a wood cutting board to air dry is an easy mistake to make. While it seems simple enough, even a light water and soap rinse have the potential to damage the surface is allowed to sit and soak in over an extended period of time. For this reason, keeping a wooden cutting board at its best means always taking time to dry the board after a rinse. The most effective way to do this is to pat the front and back of the board dry with a paper towel that can easily be discarded. In the event a kitchen towel is used to do the job, be sure to throw it in the washing machine immediately afterward as fabric tends to hold onto and provoke the growth of bacteria it picks up along the way.
3. Sanitize using a bleach mixture
Wooden cutting boards are built for endurance when it comes to slicing and dicing but are also known for rapid bacteria growth when not properly cleaned. As an added safety measure, be sure to give a wooden cutting board a quick bleach mixture wipe down even after it’s been rinsed and dried. Combine 1 quart of water with 1 teaspoon of bleach and pour it evenly over the surface of the board. Perform a gentle hot water rinse to remove excess bleach and pat the board dry for an ultra-sanitized surface.
4. Season the cutting board
If a wooden cutting board is used weekly or more, it’s worth the effort to do a surface seasoning. This simple cleaning step will also help to prevent cracks in the wood and allow the board to be used for a longer period of time. Use a paper towel to apply a thin layer of food-grade mineral oil over the surface of the cutting board. Let the oil to sit for a few hours before wiping away excess oil with a dry cloth.
5. Surface wipe plastic cutting boards with baking soda
Plastic cutting boards come with the added benefit of being non-porous and therefore dishwasher and sink safe. However, with extensive use plastic cutting boards also pose the threat of creating a breeding ground for bacteria over time. In order to keep a plastic cutting board sanitary and strong, be sure to follow up a dishwasher cleaning with a baking soda scrub once every few months. Simply mix 1 teaspoon of water with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the cutting board and rinse away with hot water once the process is complete. While this mixture successfully sanitizes, it can also potentially remove surface stains.
6. Scour plastic surfaces to clean and smooth
Keeping a plastic board clean, smooth and sanitized comes down to the details. While they may be less noticeable than on wooden cutting boards, plastic boards are extremely susceptible to scouring that provides a groove for bacteria build-up. Take time to rub down the cutting board surface with a steel scouring pad every once in a while to make sure excess plastic shards are cleared away from the working surface. If this doesn’t achieve the desired level of smoothness, consider running the cutting board under a belt sander to keep surface level, smooth and bacteria-free in the long-run.