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How to Clean & Care for a Wood Cutting Board

Published: 2023-10-20T16:22:35+0000 Updated: 2023-10-20T16:22:36+0000 Author: Abby Helgeson

Ah, the wood cutting board - a chef's trusty companion! Whether you've bought it from a local craftsman, inherited it from a family member, or even crafted it yourself, it's a piece of art in your kitchen. It's the silent witness to your culinary triumphs and occasional mishaps, the platform for your colorful salad creations, and the support when you're butchering a large piece of meat. And while it doesn't demand much, a little care and attention can make it last for years. Let’s make sure you're treating it right!

How to Properly Clean Your Wood Cutting Board

Wood is porous, which means it absorbs the juices from meats, veggies, and fruits. These can harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly. But wood also contains natural enzymes that are antimicrobial. A study from the University of Wisconsin even found that wooden cutting boards kill bacteria, whereas they can survive on a plastic board. Fascinating, right?

1. Hand Wash

Every culinary adventure usually starts and ends here. To maintain the integrity and beauty of your wood cutting board, always hand wash it using lukewarm water, mild dish soap, and a soft scrub brush. This prevents any small food particles from settling in the board's crevices. Scrub gently in the direction of the grain, ensuring you remove food residues but keep the wood’s surface intact.

2. Sanitize

After handling raw meats or fish, a simple wash might not cut it. To ensure your board is free of any harmful bacteria, use a solution made up of 1 tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. Lightly dampen a cloth with this mix and give your board a thorough wipe down, ensuring you cover every nook and cranny. This extra step guarantees a hygienic cutting surface for all your future culinary experiments.

3. Pat & Air Dry

Water and wood don’t mix for long periods! After washing, gently pat your board dry with a clean cloth. To ensure it dries evenly, stand it upright or on its side, allowing air to circulate around it. This not only ensures the board dries faster but also prevents waterlogged wood or potential mold growth.

How to Care for Your Wood Cutting Board


The best place for your board? Somewhere dry and cool. Humidity and extreme temperatures can cause the wood to warp or crack. If you have multiple boards, ensure there's a bit of space between each, allowing for better airflow and preventing unwanted moisture buildup.


Your board, much like your skin, can dry out. The solution? Regular conditioning. Food-safe mineral oil or beeswax will nourish the wood, keeping it from becoming brittle or developing cracks. Apply a generous amount and use a soft cloth to rub it in, always going in the direction of the grain. Let it soak overnight and wipe off any excess in the morning.

Types of oils to consider:

  • Mineral Oil: This is a top choice because it's food-safe, affordable, and easily available. Plus, it's a neutral oil, which means it won't turn rancid over time.
  • Beeswax: Often mixed with mineral oil, beeswax provides a thicker consistency, giving your board a luscious sheen.
  • Walnut and Almond Oil: These are great alternatives, but they can turn rancid over time and may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

When oiling, always apply in the direction of the grain. This ensures the oil penetrates deeper, conditioning the board from within. After application, leave it overnight in a warm spot. The warmth helps the wood fibers absorb the oil more effectively.


Certain foods can leave their scent behind. No one wants their morning fruit salad to taste like yesterday’s onions. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda over your board, let it sit for a few minutes, rub with a halved lemon and then gently scrub it using a damp cloth. This natural deodorizer will leave your board smelling fresh and ready for its next task.

Things to Avoid


The convenience is alluring, but the consequences are dire. The extreme heat and water of a dishwasher cycle can be the death knell for your wood board, leading to warping, splitting, or even cracking.

Soaking in Sink

It might seem like a good idea to let it soak after a heavy-duty chopping session, but prolonged exposure to water can cause the wood to swell, warp, or even split.

Harsh Cleansers

Your board comes into direct contact with your food. Avoid any cleaning agents that contain harsh chemicals. These can not only damage the board but also pose a health risk if they come into contact with your food later on.

How to Clean & Disinfect Plastic Cutting Board

Unlike their wood counterparts, plastic cutting boards can handle a bit more aggression. Use hot soapy water to scrub off any remnants. For a deep clean, especially after handling raw meats, use the bleach solution mentioned above. Always rinse thoroughly and let air dry, ensuring no chemical residues remain

Cutting Board Cleaning FAQs

Can I use vinegar on a wood cutting board?

Absolutely! Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar and use a cloth to wipe down the board. It's especially effective for non-meat tasks and leaves no harmful residues behind.

How often should I oil my cutting board?

It's best to oil your board once a month or whenever it appears dry. This prevents the wood from losing moisture and cracking over time.

How do you get stains out of a cutting board?

For those stubborn stains, make a paste using baking soda and water. Gently scrub the stained area in a circular motion, rinse, and pat dry. This natural solution will have your board looking brand new in no time!

A well-maintained wooden cutting board can last for decades. Some even become family heirlooms, passed down through generations. The time and effort you invest in its care are a small price to pay for the years of service it provides. Every chop, slice, and dice becomes a part of its story - your story. So, the next time you're dicing an onion or carving a roast, take a moment to appreciate this humble kitchen warrior. And if you ever feel the need to expand your collection, remember there's a perfect board out there waiting just for you.

If you’re interested in customizing your own cutting board, we have a guide on creating personalized cutting boardsjust for you.


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