Warped cutting boards aren’t just annoying—they’re extremely hazardous. Your cutting board should be rock-steady while you’re mincing and slicing; anything less is a recipe for disaster.
If all your cutting boards keep turning into see-saws, there’s a good chance you’re washing or storing them incorrectly. The good news is that it’s a very easy fix: Most warping is caused by heat and/or bending forces, both of which can be avoided with a few simple tweaks to your washing and storage routine. These tips apply to both wooden and plastic boards, and if you adopt them, you’ll never deal with another unsteady cutting board again.
Avoid washing cutting boards in hot water—including the dishwasher
The single best way to prevent warping is to keep your boards away from hot water. Heat makes both plastic and wood significantly more pliable; getting a cutting board nice and hot in the sink and then standing it on end to air-dry creates the ideal conditions for warping. Unfortunately, this means you should avoid putting boards in the dishwasher—those extreme temperature changes are bad news, even for allegedly dishwasher-safe boards.
Washing in cool or lukewarm water is a much better choice. If the idea of using anything but scalding water to wash cutting boards freaks you out, it shouldn’t. Nobody’s tap water gets hot enough to truly sanitize dishes—soap does all the germ-killing work. As long as you’re using enough soap, scrubbing your boards thoroughly, and rinsing them completely, cool water cleans just as well as hot.
Store your cutting boards flat or on the long side
Heat enables warping, but cutting boards don’t bend without a little bit of force. It doesn’t take much: Standing a board up on its end can do it, particularly if it’s thin and still warm from being washed. But a board can’t bend under its own weight when it’s lying flat. If you have the room for it, that’s how you should store yours.
With that said, most people don’t have enough storage space for a stack of cutting boards—myself included. Instead, storing your boards on the longer side is definitely the way to go. I used to store my boards on the short side leaned up against a cabinet wall, which applied just enough force that they always came out of the cabinet warped. Flipping them onto their long sides made a huge difference right away—and once I finally stopped using hot water, warped cutting boards officially became a thing of the past.