For the Love of Clean Cutting Boards
A well-loved wood cutting board clocks in hours of chopping, dicing, slicing, and tenderizing. And without proper care, moisture and bacteria can build up within the pores of wood allowing for mold to grow. Eww!
It is essential to know how to clean a cutting board correctly.
You might be thinking you’ve got it covered by using a plastic cutting board. But, contrary to popular belief plastic cutting boards are not safer to use than wood. While they are less porous, you must take into account the knicks and cracks plastic cutting boards quickly occur with use. And the bacteria that grabs hold of these scars in the plastic.
Whereas wood and bamboo cutting boards don’t scar as easily. And both are fairly easy to clean with simple ingredients you already have on hand, even if they aren’t friends with the dishwasher.
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How to Clean a Cutting Board, Disinfect, Deodorize, and Everything In Between
Did you know the number one product recommended for cleaning cutting boards was reported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to contaminate food with harmful chemicals? Mineral Oils’ popularity does nothing to improve its grade of “D” from the EWG nor does it make its concern as a human carcinogen any less scary (EWG, n.d.b.).
Fortunately, I have learned there are other ways to clean a cutting board without questionable chemicals found in popular store-bought cleaners. In fact, it’s quite simple to naturally clean and disinfects just about any surface without leaving a chemical residue behind.
I’ll show you how to use the techniques below to naturally clean, disinfect, remove stains, deodorize, and keep out mold from your cutting boards made from wood or bamboo.
Related: Clean and Polish Stainless Steel
It All Begins with a Rinse
After slicing and dicing away start with a quick rinse to remove food debris. Just make sure other dishes are not in the splash zone in order to eliminate possible contamination, especially if you’ve been chopping raw meat.
Next, add a dime-size amount of a castile soap, sal suds, or dish soap to a damp dishcloth. Wash and rinse with hot water. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agrees all you need to clean a cutting board is soap and hot water (USDA, 2013)!
Just resist the urge to dunk the board into a sink of soapy water. This could cause the wood to split or warp, shortening the life of the board.
How to Disinfect a Cutting Board
Naturally disinfecting is a key when considering how to clean wood cutting board after raw meat has been tenderized or chopped on the board. Start with the first step of rinsing and cleaning with hot, soapy water.
Afterward, pour 3% hydrogen peroxide over the board. It’s an all in one disinfectant – antifungal, antibacterial, anti-mold and anti-mildew! Let stand for no more than a few minutes to kill germs then wipe clean with a dish towel to avoid fading your cutting board.
I recommend designating a cutting board for meat prep, so you can skip this step on your other cutting boards and reduce the chance of contamination.
Want to know how to remove stains from wooden cutting board – all it takes is two ingredients!
Utilize the antibacterial properties of lemon juice to clean to a wood cutting board and lift stains with citric acid. Also known as sour salt and lemon salt, citric acid is a mild acid helpful for removing spots and hard water stains (Berthold-Bond, 1999). Combine with abrasive coarse salt for some serious stain-lifting power!
- Sprinkle two tablespoons of coarse salt onto a clean, dry cutting board.
- Place the lemon half cut side down on the cutting board and scour the surface, while lightly squeezing to release the lemon juice as you go.
- Let the salt and lemon mixture sit for five minutes. Then scrape them into a bowl and discard.
- Last, rinse the cutting board with a clean wet sponge and allow to dry before use.
Got a smelly board? Then it’s time you learned how to deodorize a wooden cutting board. Actually, this is the easiest technique in light of cleaning a cutting board.
Deodorizing is the process of removing or in some case, like our armpits, concealing an unpleasant odor. All it involves, in this case, is a spritz of white vinegar or lemon juice. Both work well to neutralize odors.
Did Someone Say Mold?
The premise of mold often comes up in conversations about how to clean a wood cutting board. And honestly – it does happen. If you skip regular cleaning or soak one in the sink it’s bound to occur.
So, how do you remove mold from a wooden cutting board? Once again start with the simple steps to rinse and wash, followed by steps to disinfect. This time allow the hydrogen peroxide to sit twice as long.
If the mold is visible on the surface of the board you can sand it in small circular strokes or use a metal spatula to scrape away the mold at 45-degree angle. Then disinfect once more and dry with a kitchen towel.
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When Should You Throw out a Cutting Board?
Most of us use a cutting board to prepare dinner every day. And that kind of use can take a toll on even the best cutting boards. Furthermore, a cutting board that is not replaced when it should be can cause quite a few upset tummies or other health concerns.
According to the USDA if you have a wood cutting board that is excessively worn, warped, or scared with hard-to-clean grooves it should be discarded (USDA 2013). The same applies to plastic, silicone, and bamboo boards. You should also take notice of wood cutting boards made with multiple layers of wood. If the layers or seams begin to separate bacteria can easily accumulate.
As you can see the importance of cleaning wood cutting boards should not be taken lightly. However, clean up is truly simple and doesn’t require any pricy cleaning solutions. If you’ve been neglecting the cleaning of your prep boards, you may want to start fresh with a new board and these practical cleaning methods.
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