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How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn the best way to clean a wooden cutting board so that it lasts for years.

Wooden cutting boards are a wonderful tool to have in the kitchen. They’re gentler on knife edges than other types of cutting boards and a pleasure to use.

With these advantages in mind in contrast a wooden cutting board could be more challenging to clean properly. When cleaning it you need to ensure that you are able to remove all the food and bacteria from the board to reduce the chances of spreading a foodborne illness, while also avoiding causing damage to your cutting board.

So today, we’re sharing how to care for a wooden cutting board.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean wooden cutting boards immediately after use with hot soapy water and a sponge, and dry them upright in a rack to prevent warping.
  • Deodorize wooden cutting boards using baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice to eliminate foul odors.
  • Remove stains from wooden cutting boards using salt or baking soda and lemon, and sanitize them with vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Maintain wooden cutting boards by applying food-grade mineral oil and conditioner, avoiding the dishwasher, treating stains quickly, and using only food-safe oils.

How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

It’s always best when cleaning wooden cutting boards to clean the board immediately after use. This will prevent stains from soaking into the wood and make sure that the board is ready to be used again to chop other items in your kitchen.

Daily Cleaning

Wooden cutting boards need to be hand-washed rather than placed in the sink. This is because the dishwasher will damage the board over time. The best method is to wash your wood cutting board immediately after you use it for chopping.

  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You Need

1. Rinse Wooden Cutting Board

The first step when cleaning your wooden cutting board is to place it in the sink and rinse all large food particles from it. Make sure that you rinse both sides of the board.

2. Scrub the Cutting Board

Now put some dish soap on the cutting board, and scrub the cutting board with a clean sponge. You’ll need to scrub both sides of the cutting board to ensure that it’s clean.

3. Rinse Cutting Board

When you’ve finished scrubbing the cutting board, it’s time to rinse the board under very hot water. Don’t burn yourself, but the hotter the water the better as it will help kill any bacteria on your board. Rise both sides of the cutting board.

4. Dry Cutting Board

Place the cutting board upright in a drying rack to dry. It’s very important to ensure that the cutting board is upright so it dries evenly on both sides. This will help to prevent your wooden cutting board from warping.

Deodorizing the Board

If your wooden cutting block is developing a foul odor, you will need to deodorize it. Do this by mixing 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of vinegar. This will create an oxidizing agent.

Use a clean cloth to wipe the oxidizing agent onto the cutting board. Let it sit on the board for a few minutes so it sinks into the board before rinsing the oxidizing agent off of the cutting block. After it’s rinsed, place it upright in a rack to dry.

Another option is to deodorize your cutting board with lemon. First cut the lemon in half. Then scrub the surface of your cutting board with the lemon.

Allow the lemon juice to rest on the cutting block for several minutes as you’re giving it time to sink into the board. Then rinse the cutting board thoroughly before placing it upright in a rack to dry.

How to Remove Stains From Wooden Cutting Board

After time and use, stains may develop on your wooden cutting board. If this happens you can remove the stains using either baking soda or salt.

Please note, if your old cutting board has mold or mildew it’s probably time to say goodbye. Cutting your food on mold or mildew isn’t hygienic.

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You Need

1. Apply Salt or Baking Soda

Sprinkle plenty of salt or baking soda over the stain. You’ll want a nice layer before you begin scrubbing.

2. Use a Lemon

Cut a lemon in half and use the part that you cut open to work the baking soda or salt into the cutting board. The idea is to let the lemon juice mix with the baking soda or salt.

If you’re scrubbing the baking soda into the cutting board, scrub until the stain is removed and then rinse the board.

However, if you’re scrubbing salt into the board, scrub for 5 minutes. Then allow the board to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it.

3. Rinse and Dry

When the stain is removed from the cutting board, rinse both sides under hot running water. Dry it with a clean towel and then place the cutting board upright in a drying rack to dry.

How to Sanitize a Chopping Board

If you need to sanitize your chopping board after cutting raw meat, you can use vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide to sanitize the board.

To disinfect your chopping board with vinegar, mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water. Allow the board to soak for 5-10 minutes.

If you’re using bleach, make a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak your board for 5 minutes.

You can also use 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts of water. Again, you will allow your board to soak for 5-10 minutes.

When you’ve finished soaking your cutting board in the solution of choice, rinse the board before placing it upright to dry.

Do not leave your board in the solution for longer, as soaking the wood for too long can warp and damage the wood.

Tips For Caring For a Wooden Cutting Board

There are several tips you can use to help maintain your wooden cutting board for many years of use.

Do Use Oil and Conditioner

Apply a food-grade mineral oil and conditioner to your board once a month. First, you need to ensure that your board is clean and dry.

Next, apply the oil with a soft cloth or paper towel in an even layer. Ensure that the entire board is covered with oil. Leave it overnight.

The next morning, gently buff off your cutting board with a soft cloth or paper towel to remove any excess oil. You don’t want the board to feel damp or sticky.

Do Not Wash in the Dishwasher

Do not wash your wood cutting board in the dishwasher. This will cause the wood to swell and warp.

Treat Stains Immediately

Treat all stains as quickly as possible. They become harder to remove the longer you wait.

Don’t Soak Your Board

Don’t soak your wooden cutting board or leave it lying around wet. The board will warp. If it’s wet, always stand it upright to dry so both sides are able to dry evenly.

Only Use Food Safe Oils

Only use food-safe oils to treat your wooden cutting board so you don’t accidentally ingest harmful chemicals.

Cut in Different Areas

Don’t always chop food items in the same place on your cutting board. Instead, move your cutting area around so you use the board evenly. This will help prevent staining and wear.


What Should You Not Cut on a Wooden Cutting Board?

It’s recommended that you use a plastic or glass cutting board to chop raw meat, fish, and shellfish as the plastic and glass cutting boards can be put into the dishwasher to be cleaned and disinfected.

Can You Soak a Wooden Cutting Board?

No, do not soak your wooden cutting board as this will cause the board to warp.

Can You Use Clorox Wipes on Cutting Boards?

Never use Clorox wipes to clean anything that may touch food or be ingested. The wipes contain potentially harmful chemicals that may contaminate your food.

Can I Use Olive Oil on My Wooden Cutting Board?

Do not use food oils like olive oil or vegetable oil on your wooden cutting board. These oils go bad quickly and may cause your wooden cutting board to smell horrible.

How Do You Straighten a Warped Wooden Cutting Board?

The best and easiest way to straighten a warped wooden cutting board is to turn it over so the part of the cutting board that was sitting on the counter is now exposed to the air.

Another way of looking at it is that a warped cutting board usually cups. You want the inside curve to be facing the counter. This way, the corners of the cutting board are resting on the counter, while the middle of the cutting board is arcing up and away from the counter.

This will allow the cutting board to dry evenly on both sides and will gradually straighten the warped cutting board.

The reason is that the cupping happens when the board dries unevenly causing the moisture on one side of the board to be different from the other side. Usually, the top dries faster than the bottom causing the board to cup upwards. If you flip the board then you’ll allow the bottom, or damp side, of the board to dry faster.

It may take a couple of days or a few weeks, but it’s the best and gentlest way to straighten a warped cutting board.

How Long Should You Keep a Wooden Cutting Board?

Knowing how long you should keep a wooden cutting board for depends on the wood and how well it is cared for. On average, you should change your wooden chopping board every five to ten years.

Best Way to Clean Wood Cutting Board

Ultimately the best way to clean your wooden cutting board is to clean it with hot soapy water immediately after using it to chop food. This will help to keep the board clean, prevent stains, and also prevent your family from suffering from a foodborne illness.

In addition, you’ll find that this will keep your board looking beautiful for many years and maximize its lifespan.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.