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We use them every day to chop onions. And leeks. And, OK, raw chicken breasts. But without proper care, your trusty cutting board will start to smell like your go-to Tuesday casserole permanently. Here, six dos and don’ts to keeping your board in top condition.

oil board list

Do: Season a wooden board

Wood is naturally very porous so it needs a protective seal to prevent it from absorbing all of the juices from your food--which can lead to staining, transferring of flavors or warping. To properly season your board, saturate it with food-grade mineral oil and rub it in with a clean dishtowel, making sure to go in the direction of the grain. Let it sit for a couple hours and blot away any excess. The wood should soak up most of the oil and leave a subtle sheen on the surface. Repeat every month.

steel sponge list

Don’t: Use a steel brush or sponge

It’s great for scouring pots and pans, but not so good for cleaning off your cutting boards. The steel is too abrasive, which roughs up the wooden finish and breaks down that oil seasoning you just carefully applied. Use a soft sponge or wet dishcloth instead.

knives sharp list
Twenty20

Do: Keep your knives sharp

So you don’t have to press down as hard when cutting. This creates grooves in the board, which are basically tiny little homes for bacteria to nestle into. On that note, vary where you chop so no one spot gets too worn.

cold water wash list

Don’t: Use cold water

Immediately after every use, wash your board with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly until there are no remaining bubbles from the detergent. If you’ve chopped raw meat or poultry, sanitize the board by pouring a diluted bleach mixture (1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart water) over it. Let it sit for a few minutes and rinse it all off with hot water.

RELATED: The Crazy Way to Wash Your Wood Furniture

dry board list

Do: Let it dry properly

After washing, pat the board dry. Then, set it upright to air out. Don’t leave it just sitting upright on your countertop as that will trap moisture beneath the board and breed bacteria.

lemons clean list
Twenty20

Don’t: Forget to deep clean it occasionally

Especially after a messy job like peeling beets or slicing pomegranate. Do a deep-cleaning by sprinkling the board with coarse salt and massaging it in with the cut side of a lemon. The lemon juice disinfects and neutralizes any odors, while the salt sloughs off any scraps and stains.

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