Quality cutting boards can be an investment, so you want to care for yours so that they last.

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wooden cutting boards against wall
Credit: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

You use it on a daily basis and expect your wooden cutting board to be there for you at the start of each meal prep, but how much thought do you give to cleaning and caring for your cutting board? If you follow these tips, your board will last through years of use.

How to Clean a Cutting Board

First, remember that it's essential to clean a cutting board after each use and that wooden cutting boards should be hand-washed. It's a very simple process: Wipe the board down with warm, soapy water and towel dry, says Mandy Cook of John Boos & Co., makers of heirloom-quality wooden cutting boards. She adds, "Stand the board on its edge until completely dry, then store flat after it's dry." Whatever you do, do not let water or juices of any kind set on a board for extended period of time. Target stains and odors with a few key tips. "Pour kosher salt on the stain and add a small amount of water," says Cook. "Rub the salt and water mixture into the board with a damp cloth until the stain disappears." Then, wipe down with warm, soapy water and dry.

To remove odors from wooden cutting boards—all that garlic!—Cook recommends squeezing a lemon onto the board, rubbing in, and wiping down with a warm, soapy cloth.

Care Tips to Make Your Wooden Cutting Board Last

Quality wooden boards should last for a long time, especially if you care for them properly. A few things you can do to extend their lifespan? "Do not cut on one spot of the cutting board constantly," says Cook. "Utilize the entire cutting board surface so that the board wears evenly. If you have a reversible board, use both sides so that they wear evenly." It's also important to store the board indoors where it's climate-controlled. "Cutting boards cannot be stored in outdoor kitchens where they are exposed to humidity and the elements," she says.

Most importantly, do not ignore your cutting board. Routine maintenance is required. "It must be oiled a minimum of every three to four weeks for the lifetime of the board," says Cook, "even if it is not in use." Wooden boards will dry out and crack if they are not oiled as recommended. If the board stays in storage for years without oiling, it will not emerge in the same shape. And remember to oil all sides of a cutting board. "If only one side is oiled, the board may cup," says Cook. Mineral oil ($1.99, target.com) is often used to oil a wooden cutting board. Boos developed a special food-grade oil, their Mystery Oil ($9.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) that penetrates deeply into the grain of the wood to help protect and moisturize the wood fibers. It also aids in antimicrobial properties. For additional protection, Cook recommends sealing the top of the wood surface with a product like Boos Block Board Cream ($9.99, bedbathandbeyond.com). "It gives a protective top layer to the wood surface against foods and liquids and helps keep the water out and the oil in," she says.

Additionally, thicker quality wooden cutting boards made from hardwood can also be sanded with a fine grit sandpaper following the grain of the wood and then re-oiled to replenish and uncover a new work surface, says Cook.

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