How to Clean and Care for your Cutting Board

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edge grain cutting board

Did you know that your cutting board can be a thing of beauty?

It’s true. Whether you’ve gone with wood or silicone, if you keep up its care, your cutting board can be a real joy—as pretty as a picture. We have the tips you need for keeping yours in top-notch condition.

Wood

You got a beautiful wooden board! Nicely done. Here’s how to keep it Insta-worthy over the coming years.

First, you can’t just pop it into the dishwasher. And keep it out of the sink full of bubbles. Wood can warp and crack if you don’t baby it just a little bit. To clean a wooden board, start by using a bench scraper to get off anything sticky or annoying that a sponge, soap and hot water can’t handle. Wood can’t handle a bleach solution or anything like it, as plastic can.

Got a board you just used to chop garlic, and want to quickly get rid of the smell so you can move on to fruit or something sweet? No problem: Test Kitchen Director Belle English suggests keeping a cup of warm water with two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in it handy. Just dip a sponge in there, use it to wipe down the board, make sure the board passes “the smell test”—get your nose nice and close; just like it sounds!—and sprinkle with a little more baking soda to scrub if the board is still stinky. Rinse and wash with dish soap, dry well, and you’re good to go. (Bonus: This will remove the scent from your fingers, too!) You can also use Kosher salt and a lemon or distilled white vinegar; both methods work well at dispelling smelly residue, just not quite as well as baking soda.

Keep your board looking gorgeous by applying food-grade mineral oil, such as this bestseller, when it has lost its luster. Some cooks also recommend sealing in the oil with beeswax, such as this one by Boos. If you flick water on the board and it beads, you’re golden. And keep an eye on your board; sometimes you can get away with rubbing mineral or olive oil into it every few weeks, and sometimes it’ll be a month. You’ll get to know it.

Replace damaged, cracked boards and those with pesky black mildew stains, as they won’t recover. And do be sure to always put away your board dry!

Synthetic

Hallelujah: Most synthetic cutting boards—including this Shark Tank™ winner™—can go right into your dishwasher. If they’re too big, dish soap and water can do the trick. We actually prefer using synthetic boards for most raw meats, especially chicken, since germs are more of an issue. The baking soda trick described above works for pesky odors, and the USDA has approved a tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of warm water for disinfecting. (They’ve approved this for wooden boards, too, but this can dry out and discolor wooden boards, so we avoid it.) Always discard a warped or deeply scratched board, as germs can live in the deep grooves.

Check out the coolest boards in popping colors and stunning natural wood!

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