Studies have shown that wood is the optimal material choice for a cutting board.
Research has shown that bacteria, such as the salmonella often found on raw chicken, will thrive and multiply if not removed from plastic boards. Germs that cause food poisoning can hide out in the knife-scarred nooks and crannies that develop on the surface of a plastic cutting board.
Hand scrubbing with hot water and soap can clear microbes from the surface of new or used wooden cutting boards and new plastic ones, but knife-scarred plastic boards are resistant to decontamination by hand washing.
On wood boards, whether they are new or have been used for years, the bacteria dies off within three minutes. Researchers theorize that the porous surface of the wood surface of the wooden boards deprives the bacteria of water, causing them to die.
1. Use mineral oil or other commercially available cutting board oils on your cutting board. Other oils (vegetable, olive, etc.) can turn rancid. Almond and walnut oil are good options too but be aware of people with nut allergies. Season your board by applying oil and letting it soak into the wood for 15-30 minutes. Apply multiple coats before using the board.
2. Oil your board when it looks dry, sometimes as frequently as once a week. If you allow your board to become dry it may begin to crack.
3. You can scrub and wash your cutting board with soap and hot water but DON'T SOAK it in water and NEVER put it in the dishwasher.
4. Hot water and soap work well to clean a board but sanitation is important to, especially when raw meat is involved. Diluted vinegar works very well to kill bacteria. Using bleach on a wood cutting board is not effective because the organic composition of wood neutralizes the disinfectant quality of bleach.
5. Moisture collecting beneath the board will eventually promote the growth of mold and thereby ruin your board. Unless the board has feet, keep one end propped up when not in use for maximum air ventilation, or store it vertically.
6. A board with many knife marks can be refurbished. Sand out knife marks by hand or with a belt/random orbit sander. Or, if you know someone with a planer, plane down past the cut marks, re-sand and then re-oil.