wooden cutting board maintenance

Follow our tips to keep your wooden or bamboo cutting board in perfect condition

Most new wooden chopping boards come untreated. Cutting boards suffer damage from exposure to knives (chopping and carving) and water (cleaning). Therefore, it’s best to oil and / or wax them regularly. Treat your wooden board with Uulki oil for cutting boards until the wood is saturated with oil. For a complete wood treatment and to create a water-repellent top layer, you can additionally finish your board with Uulki oil & wax 2-in-1 after the oil treatment. In this way, your wooden chopping board will remain your long-lasting partner in crime for all your cooking pleasures!

How to finish a wooden cutting board before its first use

When you buy a new wooden chopping board, butcher block or serving board, chances are high that it is untreated. To maintain your cutting board and protect the wood, it’s best to treat it with a nourishing wood care product. If you regularly treat your wooden chopping board with oil or wax, it will maintain its beauty while benefitting from an extended lifetime. This also goes for chopping boards made of bamboo, which is just another type of wood. Some users of wooden chopping boards are disappointed when their cutting board warps or cracks after just a short time. It’s important to realize that warping or cracking is a direct consequence of poor maintenance. If you follow our recommendations, you can prevent your chopping boards and butcher blocks from warping or cracking.

wood cutting board careCutting board treatment with Uulki wood oil

Before the first use, it’s best to finish your wooden board with cutting board oil. When a wooden chopping board is saturated with oil, the wood is better protected against liquids and food particles entering the wood pores. But what is the best protective oil for wooden cutting boards? At Uulki we have developed a natural and plant-based (vegan) oil for wooden cutting boards, butcher blocks and serving boards. This transparent oil has many advantages compared to traditionally used plant-based oils or mineral oil. Apply some oil with a soft cloth (e.g. a microfiber cloth) or paper towel and spread evenly on all sides of the cutting board. Let the wood oil soak in for a while so it can saturate the wood pores on a deeper level. You will notice that the wooden surface absorbs the first layer of oil almost greedily. Let the board rest for a while. Apply one or two more oil layers depending on how “greedy” your chopping or serving board is. Because of their thickness, butcher blocks will need more oil than regular cutting boards. After you have applied the last layer of oil, remove any excess oil with a cloth or paper towel. The oil will feed the wood and protect it against external circumstances, such as water or fluctuations in temperature. Now your cutting board is ready for its first use. However, for a complete wood care treatment and in order to seal the wooden surface, we advise you to also apply a layer of Uulki wax 2-in-1.

Chopping board treatment with Uulki wood wax 2-in-1

For a complete maintenance, we advise you to seal the wooden surface with Uulki wood oil & wax 2-in-1 after the oil treatment. This transparent wax makes the surface of the wood water-repellent and ensures that the oil (from the oil treatment) is trapped inside the wooden pores for a longer period of time.

Uulki oil and Uulki wax for a very complete protection of your chopping board

Uulki cutting board oil and Uulki cutting board wax 2-in-1 are complementary products for the care and maintenance of your wooden chopping board. They work well for regular chopping boards, serving board, as well as for butcher blocks.

cutting boardNever just throw away your old cutting board. Most old cutting boards, serving boards and butcher blocks can be restored. Afterwards, your chopping board will almost look like new.

Follow our roadmap to restore your board:
1. Clean your wooden chopping board thoroughly
2. Sand your cutting board: read more about correct sanding of wooden chopping boards
3. Refinish your cutting board with wood oil and/or wax with our Uulki woodcare products for chopping boards.

First make sure that your chopping board is clean and dry. If it’s in a bad condition it may be better to first sand your cutting board. Now apply plenty of oil onto the surface of the wood and spread evenly with a soft cloth. With new chopping boards, you will need to apply up to three layers, until the wood is saturated with oil. Repeat the same treatment but with Uulki cutting board wax 2-in-1 to make the wooden surface water-repellent.

oil for wood cutting boardFinishing with Uulki wood oil

After cleaning and letting the board dry, apply some Uulki wood oil onto the surface and spread evenly with a soft cloth (e.g. a microfiber cloth) or a paper towel. Since the transparent oil is completely safe to work with, you can also massage it into the wood with your bare hands. You will notice that the first layer of oil is soaked up by the wood really well. Because of its thickness, a butcher block will soak up even more oil than a regular cutting board. Let the board rest for a while and remove any excess oil afterwards with a cloth or paper towel. If you treat your cutting board for the first time, it is best to apply up to three layers of oil before the first use. Always let the oil soak in for a while between applying new layers. Stop oiling, when your chopping board does not absorb oil anymore. Remove any excess oil that is not being absorbed anymore. The wood is now saturated with oil and protected. Next to protection, Uulki oil will provide your chopping board with a deeper colour and more contrast. Since Uulki oil is transparent, your cutting board or butcher block will not change colours.

Finishing with Uulki wood wax 2-in-1

In order to make the surface of the wooden board water-repellent, it is best to finish the cutting board with Uulki wood wax after you have applied the oil. Again, make sure that the cutting board is clean and dry. Take some paste with a soft cloth (e.g. a microfiber cloth) or paper towel and massage it into the wood with circular movements. You can also use your bare hands, since Uulki wax is completely safe for your health. Let it rest for about an hour. Now remove excess paste with a cloth. If you finish your chopping board with wood wax for the first time, it is best to apply up to three layers of wax during the first days (before the first use).

Regular finishing keeps your chopping board protected

To protect the wood, it is best to apply the Uulki wood care from time to time.

Wooden chopping board care and maintenance is an ongoing process. Therefore, it’s best to regularly treat your board with oil and / or wax. It helps to observe your cutting board well. Does the surface feel a little dry? Then the time has come for a new layer of wood wax. Does your cutting board feel very dry and the colour is dull? This means that the wood pores are not saturated with oil anymore. Now is the time to apply a new layer of Uulki oil. After the oil treatment, you can finish with a layer of Uulki wax in order to make the surface water-repellent again. So, there are no fixed time intervals for treating your wooden board – since this will depend among other things on the type of wood and the thickness of the board – but generally it is best to regularly treat it.

How to treat a new cutting board?

The general rule for a new wooden cutting board, serving board or butcher block is to apply two to three layers of Uulki wood oil during the first week. It can be less, depending on how fast the wood is saturated with oil. Ideally, after the oil treatment, you treat your chopping board with two to three layers of Uulki wax in order to close the wood pores and make the surface water-repellent.

wood chopping boardWhen should I apply a new layer of Uulki oil or wax?

You should apply a new coat of Uulki oil or wax depending on the condition of your wooden or bamboo chopping board. If the cutting board looks only a little dull, but the inside of the wood is still saturated with oil, then a top layer of wax will do. If the chopping board is very dry, then a new oil treatment is necessary. In any case, always make sure that the chopping board or butcher block is clean and dry before applying the oil or wax. Especially thick wooden boards, such as butcher blocks, soak up a lot of oil and will need to be treated more often than a traditional cutting board. If a butcher block is not oiled regularly, it can warp and eventually crack. It would be a pity for this to happen, because the maintenance of a wooden cutting board or butcher block is in essence an easy and fun task. Moreover, it’s a pleasure to see your wooden board revive after a treatment with cutting board oil or wax!

cutting board treatmentThe maintenance of a wooden cutting board is an ongoing process. If you neglect it, your indispensable kitchen companion will soon perish. So, do the oil and wax not stay inside the wood forever? No, they don’t. This is because wood oils and waxes for chopping boards are non-drying for reasons of hygiene. So, they do not form a hard, impenetrable layer, as opposed to for example oils and waxes for floors. This means that each time you clean your cutting or serving board, a bit of oil or wax is washed away. That’s why wooden chopping boards need to be treated regularly with oil and/or wax as part of their normal care and maintenance. This is the only way to prevent your board from warping or cracking. By protecting the wood, you can avoid problems later. If you have a butcher block or another thick cutting board, then you will need to apply oil and/or wax more often in order to prevent it from warping or cracking.

butchers blockWood is a natural and porous material. Under the influence of changing external parameters such as temperature and water, wood will alternately swell and shrink. As a result, the wood is regularly exposed to tension and can warp or crack. By regularly treating your wooden chopping board with Uulki wood oils and/or waxes, the wood pores are filled and closed. In this state, the board cannot soak up water easily and is more resistant towards temperature fluctuations.

Untreated wood tends to soak up water and leads to swelling of the wood. When the cutting board dries out later, the chopping board will shrink. This is what happens each time you wash your chopping board. The impact of water and temperature changes (and in addition aggressive dish washing soap) is much stronger in the dishwasher making the board suffer even more. For this reason, wooden cutting boards should not be cleaned in the dishwasher. The alternate swelling and shrinking of the wood can make the chopping board warp or even crack. To prevent this, the wood pores should be filled with oil. The wood soaks up the oil and keeps it trapped in the wood pores. Oil-filled wood will not soak up much water anymore, while it can still breathe. By also applying a finishing layer of Uulki wax afterwards, the wood pores are completely closed (until the wax is washed away during cleaning), and water can’t enter anymore. After this treatment, you will have a perfectly hygienic chopping board, serving board, or butcher block, for many years to come. It isn’t unimportant either to know that a finished cutting board will remain its colour and shine for a longer time.

wood boardThe maintenance of a wooden or bamboo cutting board consists of four important steps:

  1. First usage: Before the first use it’s best to treat your wooden or bamboo chopping board with Uulki cutting board oil and/or Uulki cutting board wax. You can read all about it above on this tipps page.
  2. Correct maintenance: After each use it is important to clean and let your wooden or bamboo cutting board dry properly.
  3. Regular wood care treatment: It’s best to treat your wooden or bamboo chopping board regularly with nourishing Uulki oil and / or wax. In our tips we explain why finishing with oil and / or wax is important, the best way to apply the oil or wax, and how often you should treat your wooden or bamboo chopping board.
  4. Intensive maintenance: It’s best practice to give your chopping board a deep maintenance from time to time.

how to clean a wooden cutting boardWhen you’re finished with chopping, it’s best to clean your cutting board or butcher block immediately afterwards to avoid that food particles or juices will get into the wood and damage it. You can clean wooden chopping boards or kitchen utensils with lukewarm to warm running water by scrubbing it with a dishwashing brush or a sponge. Dishwashing soap is mostly not necessary. If the board is very dirty, we recommend you use a mild dishwashing soap. Leave the cutting board to dry by air in an upright position. In this way the water can run off easily and there’s less risk of the wood warping. Store your dry chopping board, serving board or butcher block vertically, in an upright position to avoid moisture getting trapped underneath and to prevent the accumulation of dust on the cutting surface. Don’t leave your cutting board out in bright sunlight or close proximity to a heater. Temperature fluctuations and other extreme forms of exposure (e.g. a lot of water or complete drying out) can lead to warping or cracking of the board, even if it has been treated with wood care. Make sure you oil or wax your cutting board from time to time.

chopping boardTo prevent the wood from warping or cracking, wooden chopping boards and kitchen utensils should never be cleaned in the dishwasher or left standing in water (and should be treated with il or wax regularly). Wood is a natural material that soaks up water and swells, especially in the dishwasher, or when left standing in the water. When the wood subsequently dries, it will shrink again. If a wooden cutting board is intensively exposed to these two extremes (e.g. by cleaning in the dishwasher) the wood can warp or crack. Moreover, wood not only soaks up a lot of water in the dishwasher, but is also subject to high temperatures and (often aggressive) dishwashing soap. For these reasons, it is not a good idea to put wooden chopping boards or wooden kitchen utensils (e.g. cooking spoons, spatulas and food turners, baking spatula, …) in the dishwasher. You can easily clean your wooden items by hand under running water.

breadboardSome chopping boards suffer heavily from all the cutting and carving. Other boards are maybe not maintained well. You can restore your cutting board and make it look like new again by sanding and afterwards treating it with Uulki oil and / or wax. Below you can read in detail how to get started with sanding your cutting board.

First make sure your cutting board is clean

Clean the chopping board thoroughly with a mild dishwashing soap. Let the board dry by air.

Sanding your chopping board

  • Use fine grit sandpaper: the grit size is very important. if you use a grit size that is too small, sanding will take too long. Using a grit size that is too large is however worse, since this could leave the wood with scratches. We advise you to use sandpaper with the grit size P120 or P180. If your cutting board is very rough and uneven (e.g. with deep carving grooves) then you better start with a grit size P120, and move up to P180 afterwards for smoothing the surface. If you want the surface to be very smooth, then you can finish the sanding process with very fine sandpaper with the grit size P240. We do not advise you to use even higher grit sizes, because then you will close the wood pores and the cutting board won’t be able to absorb wood oil or wax anymore. However, if you have sanded the board and have applied a layer of oil afterwards, you can use extra fine sandpaper with grit size (e.g. grit size P400) to polish the chopping board and make it smoother than smooth! After that you could decide if you want to apply a wax layer in order to finish the wood completely and make it water-repellent.
  • Always sand in the direction of the wood grain: If you don’t sand in the direction of the wood grain, you risk destroying the grain structure and leave scratches.
  • Sand evenly: Sand the complete chopping board with the same intensity.

Finish with Uulki oil and / or wax

To make your wooden chopping board look like new after sanding, it’s best to regularly treat it with Uulki wood oil and / or Uulki wax for cutting boards and kitchen utensils.