How to Clean and Polish Your Wooden Cutting Board Using Non-Toxic Ingredients

Is your wooden cutting board dried and cracked? Learn how to care for your wooden cutting boards properly.

If you're on a quest to eat healthier and reduce your environmental footprint, swapping out plastic cutting boards is a commendable first step.

Slicing into a plastic cutting board can cause you to consume up to 79.4 millionmicroplastic particles each year [1]! Wooden cutting boards are an affordable, sustainable, and healthier alternative to plastic cutting boards. However, it's no secret that maintaining wooden cutting boards can seem like a daunting task compared to their plastic counterparts. However, once you work it into your routine, you’ll never turn back. All you need to do is get started! 

Benefits of a Wooden Cutting Board

Making the switch to a wooden cutting board is an excellent step toward healthier food preparation. Let’s take a closer look at why wooden cutting boards might be the best option for you during your detox journey.

Naturally Non-Toxic…When Untreated!

One of the primary benefits of opting for a wooden cutting board lies in its inherently non-toxic nature. When choosing an untreated wooden board, you sidestep the potential risks associated with harmful chemicals found in some glazed or treated wooden boards.

Some chemicals used in treated wooden cutting boards include:

  • Formaldehyde-Based Glues: Some composite wood products, like those made from particleboard or pressed woods, can contain formaldehyde-based glues or resins. When used in cutting boards, these adhesives can potentially release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, into food [2].
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs are emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids and can include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Finishes and paints applied to cutting boards may contain VOCs that could leach into food [3].
  • Toxic Dyes and Stains: Some dyes and stains used for coloring or finishing wood products may contain harmful chemicals. It's crucial to ensure that any colored cutting board is explicitly labeled as food-safe.
  • Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is a human-made chemical that is used in making certain plastics and resins. This harmful chemical might be present in some treated wooden cutting boards. Repeated BPA exposure is linked to reproductive and metabolic disorders [4]. 

It's essential to select a board that's free from such treatments to ensure that your food remains as pure and safe as possible. This careful selection helps to maintain the natural integrity of your ingredients, offering peace of mind to those of us dedicated to making health-conscious decisions in every aspect of our lives.

Sturdy and Versatile

Plastic cutting boards can be flimsy and unstable, making it challenging to transport your chopped foods from board to pan. Even healthier alternatives like platinum-grade silicone cutting boards could pose this fall risk!

The sturdiness of a wooden cutting board makes it an indispensable tool in the kitchen. A good-quality wooden board provides a solid, reliable surface for all cutting tasks. This stability is crucial for safety and precision while chopping. 

Chopping Makes Music to the Ears

Have you ever gone on a chopping spree on a wooden cutting board? It’s like a symphony, making the perfect backdrop noise for prepping your nutritious meal.

Other alternatives can be a bit noisier, including glass and stainless steel cutting boards. In comparison, wood is relatively quiet. The soft material absorbs the sound, making for a more pleasant and less disruptive cooking experience.

Lasts a Long Time When Taken Care Of

Plastic lasts forever…and that’s a problem. However, plastic cutting boards don’t last forever in our kitchens. Once they wear out, they get tossed in our landfills, where the microplastics and other harmful chemicals used to make them are free to contaminate our air and water.

With proper care, including regular cleaning and occasional oiling, a wooden cutting board can serve your kitchen for years, if not decades. Their timeless appeal and durability make them a wise investment for anyone looking to enhance their kitchen's functionality and style.

Challenges of a Wooden Cutting Board

Health and functional benefits aside, wooden cutting boards do come with their own set of challenges that might make you miss the convenience of your old plastic board. One of the most notable conveniences of plastic cutting boards is their dishwasher-safe nature, allowing for quick and effortless cleanup. 

If this ease of cleaning is a priority for you, you might find alternatives like platinum-grade silicone, glass, or stainless steel cutting boards more to your liking. These materials can offer the durability you’re looking for, with the added benefit of being dishwasher-safe.

Wooden cutting boards require more hands-on care than other materials due to their susceptibility to cuts and scratches. These blemishes can harbor bacteria if not properly maintained.

The need for regular cleaning and maintenance of wooden boards might seem daunting. Yet, many users find this extra effort worthwhile for the warmth and natural beauty wood brings to their kitchens. 

But fear not! The effort to switch is well worth it, not just for your health but also for the longevity and aesthetics of your kitchen tools. We're here to demystify the process and share invaluable tips that will make the transition to using and caring for a wooden cutting board seamless and rewarding. With the right approach, you'll soon discover the joy and satisfaction that comes from incorporating sustainable practices into your culinary routine.

How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

Ensuring your wooden cutting board is properly cleaned is essential, especially when cooking with meats. Wooden cutting boards are valued for their durability and natural beauty, but they require specific care to remain in good condition. Regular maintenance involves simple cleaning steps that preserve the board's hygiene and longevity.

For everyday use, straightforward cleaning helps maintain cleanliness and integrity. Make sure you use Million Marker Approved cleaning products that are free from fragrances, parabens, and other harmful chemicals that could contaminate your food. 

There are also methods for deep cleaning and sanitizing your board, effective for removing stubborn residues and odors. In the following sections, we'll guide you through both regular and deep cleaning processes to keep your wooden cutting board in top shape.

Vinegar and Water

To clean a wooden cutting board using water and vinegar, start by mixing a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water. This gentle yet effective ratio ensures that the vinegar can disinfect without damaging the wood. 

Once mixed, pour the solution over the surface of the cutting board. You can also apply it with a clean cloth. Just make sure to cover the entire area. 

Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to let the vinegar's natural disinfecting properties work their magic. Afterward, rinse the board thoroughly with warm water and dry it immediately with a clean towel to prevent any water damage or warping.

The benefits of using vinegar as a natural disinfectant are numerous. Vinegar is known for its antibacterial properties, which can help eliminate germs and bacteria that may linger on your cutting board, particularly after cutting meats [5]. 

Unlike harsh chemical cleaners, vinegar is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, making it a safe choice for cleaning surfaces that come into direct contact with food. Additionally, vinegar's mild acidity helps break down grease and residue without leaving behind harmful residues, ensuring your wooden cutting board remains both clean and safe for culinary use.

Lemon and Salt Scrub

Cleaning a wooden cutting board is as easy as “easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy.” Using lemon and salt to clean a wooden cutting board is an effective and natural method that can easily be done with a few simple steps.

Begin by sprinkling a generous amount of coarse salt evenly over the surface of the cutting board. The abrasive nature of the salt helps scrub away stains and residues. 

Next, cut a USDA-certified organic lemon in half. Using organic lemons is crucial as they are free from pesticides and harmful chemicals that can be transferred to your food and, ultimately, your body. 

Take one lemon half and, using the cut side, scrub the salt into the board. Apply firm pressure and work in small circular motions, ensuring you cover the entire board's surface. 

Allow the lemon juice and salt mixture to sit on the board for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the acid in the lemon juice to break down any remaining stains and odors. Finally, rinse the cutting board thoroughly with warm water to remove all salt and lemon residue. Dry the board immediately with a clean towel to prevent any moisture absorption that could damage the wood.

Lemon and salt work together effectively to clean your cutting board. The coarse salt acts as a mild abrasive, scrubbing away food particles and stains without damaging the wood. 

With its natural acidity, lemon juice helps to disinfect the board and neutralize lingering odors. Additionally, lemon leaves a fresh, pleasant scent that masks any residual smells from foods like garlic or onion.

Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda paste is an excellent cleaning solution for a wooden cutting board when you need to tackle stubborn stains and lingering odors that regular cleaning methods can't quite eliminate. It’s especially useful after cutting highly pigmented foods like beets or dealing with strong-smelling ingredients such as garlic and onions.

To make the baking soda paste, mix equal parts of baking soda and water in a small bowl. Typically, two tablespoons of each should suffice, but you can adjust the amounts based on the size of your cutting board and the extent of the stains or odors. Stir the mixture until it forms a thick, spreadable paste.

To use the baking soda paste, start by spreading it evenly over the surface of the cutting board, focusing on the most stained or odorous areas. Let the paste sit on the board for about 5-10 minutes to allow the baking soda to absorb the odors and break down the stains. 

After this period, scrub the board gently with a soft-bristled brush or sponge, using circular motions to lift the stains and residues. Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed the board, rinse it well with warm water to remove all traces of the baking soda paste. Finally, dry the cutting board immediately with a clean towel to prevent any moisture from seeping into the wood.

Moisturizing and Polishing Your Wooden Cutting Board

Polishing and moisturizing a wooden cutting board are essential steps in maintaining its longevity and functionality. Over time, frequent washing and use can cause the wood to dry out, leading to cracks, warping, and a rough, unattractive surface. Polishing helps to restore the board's smoothness and luster while moisturizing replenishes the natural oils that protect the wood from absorbing moisture and harboring bacteria. By regularly polishing and moisturizing your wooden cutting board, you can significantly extend its life and maintain its like-new condition. Here’s how!

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil is an excellent choice for finishing cutting boards because it effectively absorbs into the wood fibers, keeping them moisturized and protected. This type of oil prevents other liquids and bacteria from penetrating the wood, thereby enhancing the board's longevity and hygiene. 

Unlike regular cooking coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil doesn't contain fats that can turn rancid. This ensures your cutting board remains fresh and free from unpleasant odors.

Beeswax Conditioner

Beeswax conditioner is a natural product used to maintain and protect wooden cutting boards. This conditioner combines beeswax with oils, such as mineral oil. It creates a thick, creamy substance that deeply nourishes the wood. 

Using a beeswax conditioner not only moisturizes the wood but also forms a protective layer on the surface. It seals the wood against moisture, stains, and bacteria. This combination helps to keep the cutting board in excellent condition, extending its lifespan and preserving its beauty.

To make a homemade beeswax conditioner, you’ll need one part beeswax and four parts food-safe oil. Begin by melting the beeswax in a double boiler over low heat. 

Once the beeswax is fully melted, slowly add the mineral oil, stirring constantly to ensure they blend well. Remove the mixture from heat and allow it to cool slightly before transferring it into a clean glass container with a lid. The conditioner will solidify as it cools. 

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is the hardest and most durable type of wax. It's an excellent choice for treating wooden cutting boards. 

When applied, Carnauba wax creates a robust seal that protects the wood from moisture and bacteria, significantly extending the lifespan of your cutting board. Unlike oil finishes, this wax provides a longer-lasting protective layer. It maintains the integrity and appearance of the wood and imparts a beautiful glossy finish, enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.

For the best results, Carnauba wax can be combined with beeswax. Beeswax alone provides a soft, protective coat, but blending it with Carnauba wax creates a superior finish. This combination balances the hardness and glossiness, ensuring your cutting board is well-protected and visually appealing. 

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is another low-tox choice for treating wooden cutting boards. It penetrates deeply into the wood fibers, providing a durable and nourishing finish that helps prevent the wood from drying out and cracking. This deep hydration not only extends the life of your cutting board but also enhances its natural appearance with a rich, lustrous finish.

One of the standout benefits of hemp oil is its non-toxic nature, making it ideal for households looking to minimize chemical exposure. Unlike some synthetic finishes, hemp oil is entirely natural and biodegradable, ensuring a safer environment for your family and the planet. 

Wooden Cutting Board Maintenance Tips

We understand how much you value your wooden cutting board and want to keep it in the best condition for as long as possible. It’s more than just a kitchen tool; it’s a part of your culinary journey. Taking care of it not only maintains its beauty but also ensures it's safe to use for all your food preparation needs. Here are some compassionate tips to help you extend the life of your beloved cutting board.

Firstly, the frequency of cleaning your cutting board should depend on how often you use it. For daily usage, make sure to clean it after each use with warm, soapy water and dry it immediately. 

Avoid soaking or putting it in the dishwasher, as excessive moisture can lead to warping and cracking. For those who use their boards less frequently, a thorough cleaning every couple of days should suffice. 

Regular cleaning prevents food particles and bacteria from settling into the wood. Next, reapplying oil and beeswax conditioner is essential to keeping your cutting board hydrated and protected. 

As a rule of thumb, oil your board once a month or whenever it starts to look dry or feel rough to the touch. For added protection, apply beeswax conditioner every few months. The combination of these treatments will keep the wood nourished, preventing cracks and extending its lifespan.

Proper storage is also crucial to maintaining your cutting board's integrity. Always store it in an upright position to allow air circulation on all sides, which helps prevent moisture buildup and warping. 

Avoid placing it near heat sources or in direct sunlight, as extreme temperatures can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracks. 

By following these tips, you’ll ensure your wooden cutting board remains both a beautiful and safe addition to your kitchen for years to come. Your care and attention will pay off every time you prepare a delicious meal on this cherished piece.

Get Personalized Low-Tox Tips

Harmful chemicals are everywhere in our modern environment, found in everything from household cleaning products to personal care items and even food packaging. These substances, such as BPA, phthalates, and parabens, can have adverse effects on our health. They contribute to a range of issues, including hormonal imbalances, reproductive problems, and increased cancer risk. Given the pervasiveness of these chemicals, it is crucial to take proactive steps to minimize our exposure and safeguard our well-being.

One effective way to understand and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals is by using Million Marker's Detect & Detox Test Kit. This test allows you to learn your levels of various harmful chemicals, such as BPA, phthalates, and parabens, that may be present in your body. By providing detailed insights into your specific chemical exposures, you can make informed decisions about lifestyle changes and product choices.

We offer personalized, actionable suggestions to help you reduce your exposure to these harmful substances. Whether it's switching to safer household products, choosing cleaner personal care items, or making dietary adjustments, the Detect & Detox Test Kit empowers you with the knowledge and strategies needed for preventative health.