Kitchens can be messy places, with plenty of spills, drips, crumbs, and smears to clean up. Naturally, the dishwasher seems like an ideal way to quickly and conveniently wash things like cutting boards.
But what about wood cutting boards specifically is popping them in the dishwasher actually safe or recommended?
This is a common question many home cooks ponder when faced with the chore of washing up.
As it turns out, there are good reasons why the dishwasher temptation should be resisted when it comes to wood cutting boards.
From the nature of wood itself to the way dishwashers work, several key factors suggest keeping them separate is the wise choice.
Yet opinions remain divided, with some people continuing to dishwash their wood boards despite warnings.
To get to the bottom of this debate, we’ll analyze the question from multiple angles:
Before jumping straight into reasons for or against, it helps to unpack why this question arises in the first place. What considerations make people ponder the dishwasher dilemma for wood cutting boards specifically?
For starters, the convenience of the dishwasher cannot be ignored. After chopping, slicing, and meal prepping galore, there’s typically a messy board left behind in need of cleaning. Manually scrubbing cutting boards takes extra work many hop
Additionally, wood boards have unique qualities that impact maintenance. Things like:
- Surface grooves holding debris
- Absorption of food particles and moisture
- Multi-step oiling/conditioning needs
Unlike plastic boards easily popped in the dishwasher, extra wood care leaves people questioning shortcuts.
Finally, wood boards are an investment. Proper cleaning is tied to their longevity and condition over many years of use. No one wants to accidentally ruin an expensive, quality board by getting lazy with the dishwasher.
With all these motivations and considerations at play, finding clarity on the dishwasher question has practical importance in home kitchens everywhere.
To determine if wood cutting boards can withstand dishwasher conditions, it’s essential to understand key attributes of both.
Common wood types used for commercial and homemade cutting boards include maple, walnut, cherry, and teak. Their natural properties contribute to quality boards.
Favored wood species have a tight, dense grain that resists cut marks and absorption. But no wood is fully impenetrable, meaning damage potential exists.
Wood expands and contracts with water absorption. Significant moisture changes lead to warping and cracks. This fluctuation matters when evaluating dishwasher compatibility.
In addition to these innate wood tendencies, maintenance routines like oiling further impact moisture behavior.
While dishwashers seem like convenient cleaning solutions, their inner workings create concerning variables for wood boards.
Dishwashers run on very hot water, often exceeding 140°F+/60°C+ temperatures depending on cycle selections. Exposure risks drying out and splitting wood.
Not only does the hot wash itself bring moisture, but the alternating dry cycles create expansion/contraction stress. These dramatic shifts are problematic.
The detergents and rinse agents in dishwashers are formulated for cleaning effectiveness, not material safety. Their interactions with wood finish and integrity are uncertain.
When considered together, the inherent sensitivity of wood and extreme dishwasher conditions set the stage for a potentially damaging combination. But the question remains if real-world evidence aligns with these concerns……
With so many technical considerations at play, the perspectives of kitchenware experts prove insightful. From manufacturers to specialty retailers, these industry voices have direct material experience and stake in the debate.
Companies that create and sell wood cutting boards overwhelmingly recommend against dishwashing. Many even explicitly state this on product instructions and websites as they carry the liability and warranty concerns. Reasons cited include:
- Irreversible warping
- Cracking and splitting
- Ruined finishes causing splinter risks
- Compromised food safety from deep moisture
- Voided warranties
The overarching takeaway is prolonged durability and performance requires hand washing.
Those selling high-end wood boards also align with anti-dishwashing stances. Establishments like kitchen supply shops, chef stores, etc. give usage and care advice daily to customers. Their experience confirms manufacturer guidelines.
Additionally, they acknowledge real-life customer mistakes trying to cut corners against recommendations. Horror stories of warped, worn out boards removed too late from dishwasher cycles emphasize taking precautions.
While the verdict seems clear from an expert standpoint, what happens when everyday people ignore the warnings? Some still opt to dishwash their wood boards out of convenience or ignorance of risks. By looking at their outcomes, more dishwasher insight emerges.
A tiny portion of those who regularly dishwash their wood boards report no issuesyet. They chalk it up to gentler cycles, sturdy board types, or sheer luck. However, long term effects remain unknown even in these scattered cases.
More commonly, early damage crops up after months to a year of repeated dishwashing. Things like:
- Surface cracks
- Slight warping along edges/seams
- Discoloration; finish beginning to degrade
These provide a warning sign to cease dishwasher use before impact intensifies.
Unfortunately, many enthusiastic dishwashing fans only learn the harsh lesson after significant, irreparable harm.
What starts as subtle cracking eventually ends with Splitting, splintering, extensive warping, and erosion of finishes that protect and seal the wood.
The internal moisture also permanently alters the board’s structure leading to accelerated staining and bacterial risks.
In essence, the dishwasher provides a slow death sentence to wood boards – and sometimes kitchenware budgets when forced replacements ensue.
Luckily, effective cleaning options exist beyond the dishwasher temptation. Simple methods also prolong your board’s lifespan.
Using mild soap and warm water, dedicated scrubbing lifts debris from wood grooves. This manual process respects moisture limits. Allow boards to fully air dry upside down to avoid excess water pooling.
For added germ-fighting power, mix up sanitizer solutions like diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Apply briefly before regular washing. Limit exposure times to prevent drying.
Frequent thin applications of food-safe mineral oil nourishes and protects, balancing moisture. Let it absorb fully rather than leaving slick residues.
Combine these easy hand care techniques for clean, conditioned wooden boards minus dishwasher risks.
When washing wooden cutting boards by hand or in the dishwasher, it’s important to use the right soap that won’t degrade the wood over time.
Here are some top options:
A small amount of mild dish soap, free from additives like bleach or antibacterial ingredients, can work well for cleaning cutting boards. Avoid heavily fragranced soap. Rinse thoroughly after washing
Olive oil based dish soaps contain natural oils that help condition and preserve wood as you clean. They effectively remove grease and food particles without excessive drying. Grapeseed oil soap has similar benefits.
The naturally occuring lauric acid in coconut oil makes it a powerhouse cleaning agent. Coconut oil soap helps lift dirt and bacteria without stripping away protective wood oils like harsher detergents. It adds shine as it cleans.
When scrubbing wooden cutting boards, it’s best to use gentle scrubbing tools that won’t damage the surface:
Cellulose sponges or soft microfiber cloths clean effectively while being gentle on wood finishes. They allow scrubbing with minimal abrasion. Avoid stiff plastic scrub sponges.
Look for brushes labeled safe for nonstick pans as these have rounded bristle tips. Nylon bristle brushes also work well. Avoid abrasive stainless steel brushes.
These flexible mesh scrubbers contour to the cutting board surface for safe scrubbing. The stainless steel links remove stuck residue without digging into the wood.
Proper drying is key for maintaining wooden cutting boards. These cloths safely dry without leaving fuzz or lint behind:
The absorbent, lint-free pile of terry cloth makes it ideal for soaking up excess water. Terry towels dry fast without damaging wood fibers. Using a fresh one daily is best.
These thin cotton towels have a tight weave and soft texture perfect for gently drying woodenware. They are very absorbent and lint-free. Air dry towels between uses.
The dense, plush pile of microfiber traps moisture while the smooth edges prevent snagging. Dirty ones launder well for reuse. Have multiples to rotate through.
Regular oiling preserves wooden cutting boards, protecting against cracking and damage in the dishwasher or with everyday use:
Mineral oil is affordable, odorless and won’t go rancid or spoil food flavors. Regular application creates a protective layer. Choose food grade only, found in pharmacies.
Beeswax conditions wood providing water resistance. Combined with mineral oil in cream formulas, it seals and restores luster. Rub a thin coat working with the grain monthly.
Pressed from walnut shells, this oil uniquely cures into the wood rather than forming a topcoat. It leaves an antimicrobial finish safe for food contact after curing for several days. Reapply a few times yearly.
Is it safe to put wood cutting boards in the dishwasher?
It’s best not to put wood cutting boards in the dishwasher. The heat and harsh detergents strip protective wood oils leading to drying, cracking and splitting over time. Hand washing is recommended for preservation.
How should you clean wood cutting boards?
Clean wooden cutting boards by hand washing in warm soapy water, gently scrubbing with a soft sponge or brush. Rinse thoroughly and either stand on end to air dry or quickly dry both sides with a lint-free towel.
How often should you treat cutting boards with oil or wax?
Treat wooden cutting boards monthly by rubbing a thin, even coat of food grade mineral oil, beeswax cream or walnut oil across the full surface. Let soak in overnight. This maintains water resistance and luster.
While not ideal, putting wood cutting boards through the dishwasher very infrequently may be acceptable if handled properly.
Use an appropriate delicate cycle and air dry completely afterwards. Otherwise always opt for hand washing to best preserve wood conditioning and longevity in this essential kitchen prep tool. Maintain protection with regular oiling.