If you’re anything like me, you have a couple of kitchen tools you can quickly name as your favorites to use in the kitchen.  My favorite cutting board easily ranks among my top five most useful kitchen tools.  I use one board for virtually all jobs.  Yes, I said one board.  I don’t have different boards designated for different tasks- such as meat/poultry/veggies, all color-coded so that one might be certain of its use.  Of course, I am mindful of concern for bacterial contamination, and keep the board in good condition.  I use a birch end-grain board that didn’t come cheaply, but it is put to the test every time I cook.

One of the main reasons I feel confident in the longevity of the board is that I maintain it, keeping the following tips for care in mind:

  • Always hand wash with hot, soapy water.  Allow board to air dry completely before putting away.
  • Never submerge the board in a sink of water or allow it to soak.  Also, never wash in the dish washing machine.
  • To sanitize, spay the board with a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water.  Wipe with a clean cloth.
  • To remove odors, rub the board with kosher salt and a cut lemon.  Allow to sit for several minutes then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • To preserve the wood’s quality, periodically apply a food-safe wood cream or mineral oil.  Allow board to rest overnight, and wipe with a clean cloth before its next use.
  • Store the board on its end in a dry area away from extreme temperatures.
  • And, something I’ve only recently considered: if it is your favorite board, consider using a less desirable board for harsh tasks like pounding out any tough cuts of meats into cutlets.

Mineral oil spread over board and allowed to be absorbed over night

Mineral oil applied to clean board

Mineral oil applied to clean board





Walking into Williams Sonoma this afternoon, favorite cutting board under my arm, I was worried about the ensuing encounter I was about to have with the sales associate.  “He’s going to think I put this in the dish washer”, I thought to myself.  Having patiently waited in line, I was called forward and asked if I was ready to check out.  “Not exactly”, I stated. I untucked the board from under my arm, and presented it to the associate so that he could see the large crack that had developed in the board.  Well…let’s be accurate here…it was more than just a crack.  This large chasm, nearly occupying 1/3 the width of the cutting board would give the Liberty Bell a run for its money.  In other words, the board would have soon completely split in two.

“You haven’t been putting this in the dish washer, have you?”, were the first words the associate asked me upon my explanation (or lack thereof) as to why their branded cutting board had faltered.  I can only imagine the dismayed look I must have shot the poor fellow before I launched into a detailed account of the proper cleaning and conditioning regimen I had utilized to care for the board.  He didn’t know how much I loved that cutting board- it’s thickness, the grain of the wood.  I loved it’s weight under my hand, not only when I lifted it, but also as my knife rocked across its surface.  It had density- something that is not felt with a thinner board, but made it my go-to for just nearly every cutting purpose.  I never would have soaked the board in the sink, much less have places it in the dish washer (a major no-no for anything wooden in my kitchen).

Now, there are all sorts of cutting boards on the market.  While some people might find comfort in the reported sanitary benefits of a plastic or bamboo board, if one properly cares for a dense wood board, such as maple, walnut, or cherry, any risk of bacterial development can be mitigated.  Finding a board made of a dense wood is important, as it will help to keep water out of the board and to keep it from warping.  For tips on keeping your favorite cutting board in good condition, look here.  Fortunately, the sales associate was willing to replace the cracked cutting board with a new one that I have already put to good use.

It is important to invest a bit of extra time and care in order to keep your favorite kitchen tools in good working order.  After all, you have probably put good money into them and want to keep them around as long as possible.  This means often means skipping the dishwasher and rolling up your sleeves to wash by hand.  It may take a few more minutes, but will be worth it in the long run.   As a general rule of thumb, I do not put any wooden tools, any tools with silicon, any skillets or cookware (pots and pans), or any of my knives in the dishwasher.  Some may think that a plastic or silicon spatula or other item might be fine in the machine, but this can lead to cracking and ultimately weaken the tool.  Pictured below are a few items I would always opt to wash by hand.