You may be surprised to learn that a slab of wood has care instructions, but your cutting boards need some attention if you want to keep them in good shape for a long time. To properly maintain your boards you should take these steps to care for them monthly.
Before getting started, you’ll need two things:
1) Food-Grade Mineral Oil
Mineral oil hydrates the wood and revives its luster. It’s colorless, odorless, and lightweight. Walrus Oil is my brand of choice.
2) Beeswax Finish
A coat of beeswax after the mineral oil helps lock in the moisture and protects the wood. I recommend Walrus Oil Wood Wax.
After acquiring the oil and wax, it’s time to get started.
Step 1: Wash
Wash your cutting board with water and mild soap, removing sticky bits with a lint-free rag. Usually, people wash only the top of the board, which can damage your board. When moisture reacts with the wood, it swells, and if the swelling isn’t uniform, it may warp your board. If your cutting board is rocking, that's usually because only one side was washed. After washing, wipe down your board and let it dry thoroughly, standing it on edge.
Cutting board cleaning note: Never soak your cutting boards in water for prolonged periods of time and please don't ever wash them in a dishwasher!
Step 2: Apply Mineral Oil
After your board is completely dry, smear a layer of mineral oil on the sides, top, bottom, grips, and handles. You don’t need puddles of oil on your board, just give it an even, generous coat. This layer of oil will hydrate the wood. While standing your board on its edge, let the oil soak in for around three hours.
Step 3: Wax On
After the oil has had enough time to soak in, it’s time to apply the wax. Spread the wax over the entire board, making sure to get in every nook and cranny. The wax is greasy, so if you don’t want to get it all over your hands, use a lint-free cloth to apply it. After you’ve covered the whole board, you’ve created a barrier to help the wood retain moisture. Let the wax dry thoroughly, again standing your board on edge.
Step 4: Wax off
After the wax is dry, there is still one final touch. Rub the board in circular motions with a microfiber cloth until the wood is shiny and beautiful. When you're done, liquids will pool on top of your board rather than soak into it.
If you're maintaining your boards like this every month, they should look great for decades to come!
Additional Step When Needed: Sand it down
If your board suffers from deep cut marks, you can sand them out by with an orbital sander and some 150 grit sandpaper. After doing so, run through steps 1-4 before using your board.