How Do I Remove Stains From a Cutting Board?

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Cutting boards are kitchen staples with character -- a beautiful wood board is as decorative as it is useful and will last for years with proper care. Cleaning a cutting board is first an exercise in eliminating bacteria and odors -- use separate boards for meats and fish, and for fruits and vegetables, to make sanitizing easier. But stains happen, whether your board is wood, plastic or a slab of polished stone, so keep stain removal remedies on hand to restore your cutting boards to pristine glory.

Wonder Cure for Stained Wood

Hardwoods and bamboo are ideal cutting boards that won't dull fine knives but are hard enough to provide a good cutting surface. Bamboo tends to resist stains well and may never pose a stain-removal problem, even when confronted with juicy red beets. Neither hardwood nor bamboo boards should go in a dishwasher because the heat and water can cause the plant fibers to swell and split. But natural ingredients will work wonders on wood cutting boards, and the simplest solution to a stain is probably sitting right in your kitchen.

Spread coarse salt over the stained area of the board and cut a lemon in half -- you can use a lemon that you've squeezed out for a recipe, as long as it hasn't dried up. Scour the board with the lemon, cut side down, rubbing the salt vigorously into the surface. Then let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Scrape the salt off, rinse the board, towel it dry and set it where air can circulate around both sides.

Sunshine on Plastic

Try a home remedy on a stained plastic cutting board that works like a bleach, without the bleach. Soak a clean sponge in a solution of 10 drops of lemon essential oil in a cup of water and press the sponge to the cutting board, drenching the stained area. Set the wet board in the sun for a day and watch the dingy discoloration whiten back to bright. After any messy chopping session that leaves a plastic board lightly stained, try just rubbing half a cut lemon over the board to "bleach" out the stain before it has a chance to set.

Absorbent Stone

Stone is marginally better than glass as a cutting board -- glass is too slippery to grip food, slippery enough to endanger your fingers if the food slides and will kill the blades of your knife, so it's a poor choice for a cutting board. A slab of marble or granite is less slippery, very useful for working with pastry and easy to wipe down, although it won't be too kind to your knives. But cold beautiful stone is porous enough to stain, even when it's been treated with a food-safe sealer. The Marble Institute of America recommends making a paste of baking soda and water and spreading it over an oil-based or greasy stain. Cover the paste with plastic and let it sit for 24 to 48 hours to draw the stain out of the stone. For juices and coffee stains, use hydrogen peroxide instead of water to make the paste.

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