Woodenware scares people because they can’t put it through the dishwasher (never, ever put it in the dishwasher), so they think it isn’t clean enough, especially if they’ve used it for raw meats. But study after study has shown that wood has a unique way of “eating” germs and can actually be safer than plastic. I don’t recommend bamboo cutting boards because bamboo naturally has silica in it, which will dull your knives. So good old-fashioned wood it is. You can wash and even sanitize wood, though, so don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know to keep all of your woodenware in fine shape.
Clean: Do not put wood in the dishwasher, ever! Most wood pieces are put together with some sort of glue and they will literally fall apart in the dishwasher. If they are made of one solid piece of wood, they will come out dry (or mildewed, depending on if you used the heat dry cycle or not) and gray—effectively useless. Wash in hot water with your regular dish soap. Do not let woodenware soak for any long periods of time. If something is crusted onto your woodenware, pour boiling water over that part, which softens it up enough to scrub almost instantly.
Sanitize/Deodorize: Mix ⅓ cup table salt and ⅓ cup baking soda. Sprinkle heavily on the cutting board surface. Let sit for 30 minutes. Cut a lemon in half and use the cut lemon to rub in circles over the surface of the cutting board, getting the salt and baking soda mixed with the juice that’s coming from the lemon to make a paste. Rinse the baking soda mixture off. Pour white vinegar over the entire cutting board. You can also follow this by quickly pouring a kettle full of boiling water over the surface. Do not let the water sit. Then wash as usual. This works for all utensils, too, and gets out stains such as beet or food coloring.
Condition: Dip a clean, lint-free rag in wonder wax. Don’t be shy; you’ll wipe off any excess, but for now, you want to liberally coat and condition the wood. Work it in as best you can on all sides and surfaces of the items. Then lay out all of the pieces on a clean towel and let this soak in overnight. In the morning, use a clean lintfree rag to rub in any remaining oil. Wash as usual. You can do this monthly or just when you feel the pieces are getting dull or dry.
Extra Tip: If you develop any light splinters, cracks, or bumps on your woodenware, you can use a light grit sandpaper to gently sand the area. Then condition well to seal the newly exposed wood.
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