Do you have a wooden cutting board? Or maybe wooden cooking utensils? What about those kitchen knives with wooden handles? Do you know how to take care of them? All you need to take care of them is a little bit of mineral oil and those wooden items will last a lifetime.
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Wood or Plastic?
I love to be in the kitchen. I think in another life I may have been a chef. I love cooking up delicious meals, whether it’s homemade chicken and dumplings , my magic pumpkin pie dessert or a big pot of taco soup.
Several years ago, I was shopping an a Paula Deen store in east Tennessee when I saw a gorgeous wooden cutting board. I absolutely loved it. I had a few plastic cutting boards, so I went back and forth about buying it. It had a pretty steep price tag, so I set it back down and left.
I looked up the differences between wooden and plastic cutting boards. I found out quickly that plastic doesn’t last as long. I knew that as I had been through several plastic boards that only lasted a year or so.
Then I read a scientific study that proved wood is actually safer to use than plastic. It holds less bacteria than plastic.
Wooden cutting boards also last longer. They can last a lifetime if you take care of them properly. The same goes for your wooden cooking utensils and knife handles.
How To Take Care of Wooden Kitchen Items
There are several ways that you can ensure your wooden utensils and boards last a long time.
Don’t soak them
Soaking wood in water causes it to swell. When it later dries out, this leads to cracks and warping. For this same reason, don’t put them in your dishwasher (it’s tempting to just throw it in there, I know…). Don’t do it.
Wash your wooden items with hot soapy water. If you want to give it a really intense cleaning, wash it with soapy water. Then sprinkle some sea salt on it and use half of a lemon to scrub the surface.
If you use your cutting board for meat, you may want to disinfect it. You can use a weak bleach solution or even hydrogen peroxide to kill any unwanted bacteria.
Washing your wooden items dries them out over time. Dried wood loses its color and luster and can also crack easily. So how can you protect them from drying out?
Keep your wooden items oiled
You can preserve your wooden boards and utensils by oiling them. When I say oil, I don’t mean just any oil. We’re not talking vegetable oil or car oil. You need good quality food grade mineral oil.
When you’re buying mineral oil for your wooden kitchen utensils, make sure the label either says “food grade” or “USP grade”. And don’t try to substitute any other types of oils. Cooking oils like vegetable oil or olive oil will turn rancid over time and make your cutting board unsafe to use. Mineral oil is cheap, so invest in a bottle.
Mineral oil restores the oils that the wood lost during cleaning. The soap that you use to wash dishes is made to break down oils, including the ones in your wooden items.
The mineral oil helps to moisturize the wood and prevents warping and cracking due to the wood drying out.
Using Mineral Oil On Wooden Cutting Boards and Utensils
The first step is making sure your items are clean. You can use hot, soapy water or a lemon and salt scrubbing. Once your utensils or boards are clean, set them aside and let them dry. I recommend cleaning them in the morning and then oiling in the evening to give them ample time to dry.
Once it’s time to oil everything, you may want to grab a small sauce pan. Mineral oil is thick and can be hard to spread. Warm it in a small pan to thin it out and make it easier to work with. Just be careful not to make it too hot.
Use a clean soft cloth that won’t leave lint on your wooden items. I’ve done that and picking oily lint off of kitchen spoons is no fun. As you rub the oil across the surface, rub in the direction of the grain.
Once the oil is on, let it soak in overnight. Don’t try to remove the excess until the next morning. Using a clean cloth, gently rub the wood to make sure there isn’t any excess oil. The wood shouldn’t feel sticky or wet.
Don’t put it up yet. Leave the wooden boards and utensils out during the day. This will give the wood and oil time to oxidize and harden.
How often should I oil my wooden utensils and cutting boards?
Wood continues to dry out, so I would say about once a month if you don’t use them often. If you’re using your wooden stuff daily, then you’ll want to oil them more often.
Keep an eye on the wood. If it starts to look dull in some spots, that’s the wood’s way of begging you for oil. You can also try using a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax on your wooden items. The beeswax will help the wood stay moisturized longer and gives the wood a protective coating.
Benefits of Using Mineral Oil on Cutting Boards and Utensils
Not only does mineral oil prevent drying, cracking and warping, but it can help maintain knife edges. The mineral oil on the wooden cutting boards helps knives keep their edges longer.
You can use mineral oil on wooden items other than your kitchen items. Use it to condition and preserve wooden furniture. It can also be used to add life to your garden tools. Oil the wooden handles and the metal parts to prevent rusting.
If you live in an older home with wooden floors that creak, you can pour mineral oil into the joints where it creaks to stop the creaking. You can also use it to stop creaky metal. A squeaky door hinge can be fixed with mineral oil instead of WD40.
Mineral oil can help you clean also. Shine stainless appliances with mineral oil. Use it to remove stickers or even paint from your skin.
There are many reasons that you need to have mineral oil around.
Do you use mineral oil for anything else? Let me know below!
Adrian Jones says
I like how you mention that you should pick up mineral oil and make sure to oil up wooden utensils and a cutting board in order to maintain its size and shape. Wood is known how to dry out quickly, so applying mineral oil at least once a month should it not be used often is one way to save it. If I had a wooden cutting board, then I would always make sure to rub in some mineral oil every now and then to preserve it.
Martha b Stone says
I put it on my kitchen island at 1 0pm and this morning at 9 it is still wet and sticky what do I do
Marthab Stone says
Put mineral oil on island at 10 pm and this mroning at 9 it is still wet and sticky what do I do
It sounds like you put a little too much on, which is not a bad thing. Just use a dry, clean, lint-free cloth the wipe off the excess. It shouldn’t feel sticky, but smooth.
Vince Grubahr says
Can I use Johnson’s Baby Oil, Pure Mineral Oil for my favorite butcher’s knife? The wooden handle has dried out.
The Johnson’s Baby Oil Pure mineral oil will help to bring some life back to your knife handle. However, I prefer to use a mineral oil that is food-grade oil. The difference between the two is that the Johnston’s Baby Oil will have fragrance added to it, while pure mineral oil is just that. You can use it in a pinch, but I would recommend buying some food-grade mineral oil to have on hand for future use.