Every task has tools and cooking is no exception. The general rule with tools is to spend as much as you can and maybe more than you think you can afford. There are many materials used these days for kitchen cutting boards, but the classic is still hard maple, as thick as you can find and as solid as it can be. A wood cutting board is desirable for several reasons. It won’t damage kitchen knives, bacteria have a harder time reproducing and contaminating your board, and it is esthetically pleasing when displayed in your kitchen. An ideal all-purpose cutting board is about 2 inches thick, at least 1 foot wide and 18 inches long. It can be solid wood, but they are generally made of maple blocks or planks glued and pressed together. It will last for your lifetime and your grandchildren will be using it when they are adults. Here are some easy tricks to make sure that happens.

Things You'll Need

Remember that cutting boards become contaminated by whatever is cut on them. Keep two separate boards, one for cutting meat and poultry and one for cutting fruits and vegetables.

Clean the board after each use. Never immerse it in water; instead wash the surface with a damp rag or sponge. Spray the cutting surface well with a weak bleach solution (one teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water). Scatter coarse salt over the damp top and rub vigorously with a sponge or cloth. Rinse completely and dry thoroughly.

Oil the cutting board ever month or two, or whenever it looks a little dry. You may need to oil every few weeks if you live in a very dry climate. Use food grade mineral oil, not an edible food oil such as vegetable oil or olive oil. Food oils will go rancid and your food will pick up the odor as you chop. Wipe down all surfaces well with the oil, let the board sit overnight, then use a damp cloth to remove excess oil.

Make sure you keep a smooth cutting surface. Scrubbing with salt will help do that and wood is a self healing material that will seal itself after being cut lightly while you chop.

Take the cutting board to a wood shop for resurfacing if it becomes heavily damaged by cutting. Do not use sandpaper to resurface a cutting board.


  • Use a wooden cutting board for fruits and vegetables and a plastic board for meats and poultry. That way you can wash the plastic board in the dishwasher or in the sink with hot water and soap.

  • You can buy special oil made for butcher blocks and cutting boards, but the drug store edible mineral oil will also work.