How To Clean, Deodorize and Condition Wood Cutting Boards Naturally

Apartment Therapy Tutorials

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A few years ago my father gifted me a really gorgeous cutting board that he had made. It was so special, I was terrified to use it. Afraid to add dangerous bacteria and ruin the beautiful finish, I decided I should probably just keep it for "looks" and displayed it proudly on the counter in my kitchen.

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There it sat on the counter, surrounded by beautiful veggies, passed by every time for the ugly plastic cutting board I actually knew how to care for —until that fateful Thanksgiving when I wasn’t in the kitchen to reroute a chef in need of a carving board.

I came in to find the board, my beautiful board, being used to carve the turkey! I could only sit there and watch, wide-eyed and terrified, as the juices of the bird soaked deep into my prized board.

After the dramatic spell subsided, I relaxed. I figured since this was in fact a “cutting board," it really should be used for that purpose. So I did some research and educated myself on the art of caring for wood boards and have been using it regularly ever since. See below for a few simple tips on cleaning, deodorizing, and conditioning wood boards.

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What You Need

Materials:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • One lemon
  • Mineral oil

Instructions

Clean:

1: Use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the board with a small amount of vinegar and water to loosen any leftover food residue and disinfect the board.

2: Wipe the board with Hydrogen Peroxide. This will remove any remaining bacteria.

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Deodorize:

1: Sprinkle coarse sea salt all over the board. I will often let the salt sit overnight so it can draw out any lingering bacteria.

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2: Cut a lemon in half and use each piece to work the salt around the board. Be sure to juice the lemon as you are scrubbing. Let the lemon juice/salt mixture sit on your board for 5-10 minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth.

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Condition:

The amount of usage your board sees and the climate where you live will determine how often your board needs conditioned. I use mine daily and live in a more humid environment, so I’m only conditioning 3-4 times a year, while our friends in Colorado should probably be conditioning their wood boards once a month. This conditioning method is simple, inexpensive and will keep your boards looking gorgeous!

1: Apply the mineral oil to your board with a soft cloth (Walnut oil, and almond oil are good alternatives, but stay away from olive or vegetable oils, as they turn rancid quickly). Wipe down the board, going with the grain, making sure to condition all areas including the sides and the back of the board.

2: Buff the oil into the board with a dry cloth. I used a rag from an old cotton t-shirt and it worked great!

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(Image credits: Ashley Poskin)