How to Clean Your Wood Cutting Board

September 12, 2023 5 min read

How To Care For Wooden Cutting Board

How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

Learn how to clean a wooden cutting board with our helpful guide! A staple in every kitchen, a wooden cutting board is the foundation for your culinary creations. You need to keep it clean in order to avoid harmful bacteria — and unattractive stains. Give your most beloved kitchen item the care it deserves with these best practices.

How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board 

A wooden cutting board is an essential tool for every at-home chef. They not only provide a sturdy surface for cutting, but they’re also gentle on knives. Plus, wooden cutting boards are a lot more stylish than most of the plastic options you can find. They’re practical and look good on your countertop — what’s not to love?

Waves cut out on top of a maple cutting board. The Name Casa Del Mar is cut out along the bottom of the rectangle cutting board. On the board is a knife and some dark red oranges.

Learning how to clean a wooden cutting board is a must if you have one of your own. Start with a basic clean using soap and warm water, then deodorize and remove any stains. Finish the process with food grade mineral oil or cutting board oil. You’ll have a perfectly clean wooden cutting board before you know it!

With a little attention to detail and specific tools, maintaining a wooden cutting board is easy! Wood is more porous than plastic, so you’ll need to give your wooden cutting boards a bit more special attention. But when you do, they’ll last for years to come. 

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cleaning a Wooden Cutting Board

Before you get started, make sure that you have the following:
  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • Lemon
  • Food grade cutting board or mineral oil
  • Clean and dry towels

1. Start with a Basic Clean

Prepare your cutting board by scraping off any food particles or debris. Never, ever, soak a wooden cutting board in water — it will create warping, or worse, will cause the wood to swell and crack. 

  • Add the mild dish soap and warm water to a small plastic container and mix. 
  • Dampen your sponge with the soapy water and gently scrub the cutting board. 
  • If you notice that some areas are stained or there are any lingering odors, spend a little extra time there. 

2. Deodorize with Vinegar and Lemon

If the gentle scrub didn’t get rid of those pesky odors, you can use a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice to remove them. Vinegar also fights against nasty germs like E.coli and Salmonella. It’s an all-natural solution — no need to worry about using any harsh chemicals.

  • Pour a small amount of white vinegar onto the cutting board.
  • Cut a lemon in half and rub it over the surface of your board, gently squeezing it to release its juice.
  • Allow the vinegar and lemon juice to sit for 1-2 minutes.

3. Remove Stains with Salt

Certain foods have a tendency to stain wood — things like berries, beets, and red meat are the most common culprits. Stains are not only unsightly, but they can also harbor bacteria. The good news is that you can easily remove them with coarse salt. It’s best to follow these steps soon after you see the stain and before it sets in.

  • Sprinkle extra coarse salt over the stains.
  • Dampen a sponge or cloth with water and use it to rub the salt in a circular motion.
  • Rinse the cutting board with a bit of water and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.

4. Dry and Apply Food Grade Mineral Oil or Cutting Board Oil

Black spray bottle of cutting board oil.

Now that you know how to clean a wooden cutting board, it’s time to learn how to dry and oil it. Proper drying and oiling are both crucial to maintaining the integrity of your board.

  • Pat the cutting board dry with a clean towel to remove any excess water.
  • Leave it to dry completely in an upright position (24 hours)— you don’t want the wood to absorb any leftover moisture.
  • Use another clean cloth to apply a thin layer of food grade mineral oil or cutting board oil to the board. Coconut oil also works.
  • Let it soak for at least a few hours. You can wipe off any excess oil with a lint-free cloth.

Tips for Keeping Your Wooden Cutting Board in Tip-Top Shape

Rectangle Maple Cutting Board with word Chef Daddy cut out along the top. Green paper Words with Boards band across the center.
  • Avoid soaking your wooden cutting board in water or exposing it to very high temperatures. Do not put in the dishwasher. Both can lead to warping, cracking, and staining.
  • Use separate boards for raw meats, vegetables, and charcuterie or cheese boards. You’ll prevent cross-contamination — and regular cleaning will be easier.

Man with blue shirt and tan apron carrying a Cherry Cutting Board with word Carnivore etched on the side.

 

  • If you need to do a deep clean, create a 1:1 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide, then apply it to the board with a sponge. Rinse with water and allow it to air dry before using it again.
  • Return your cutting board to its original finish by hand-sanding the surface with 320-grit sandpaper. Wipe it with a damp cloth before cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

Can I put my wooden cutting board in the dishwasher?

NO! Don’t ever put your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher — remember, the same goes for soaking! All of that extended exposure to water will cause the wood to warp or potentially expand and crack. 

How often should I oil my wooden cutting board?

You don’t have to apply cutting board oil or food grade mineral oil to your boards every time you wash them — but you should aim to do it whenever your board starts to feel dry. The oil prevents the wood from drying out, cracking, and absorbing moisture. It essentially provides an extra layer of protection for your board. 

How to clean a wooden cutting board after cutting raw meat?

If you use your board to cut raw meat, you must sanitize it to avoid cross-contamination or foodborne illnesses. Give your board a basic clean with warm water and mild dish soap, then apply a mixture of vinegar and water to disinfect. Let it soak for a few minutes, rinse, pat with a clean towel, and allow to air dry.

Read our article on how to prevent cross contamination, for more information.

Summing it Up

Your wooden cutting boards are more than just a kitchen tool — it’s where all of your favorite meals begin. Keeping it clean and well-maintained will extend its lifespan and ensure food safety.


By following the straightforward steps we outlined above, you’ll enjoy a beautiful (and functional!) wooden cutting board that stands the test of time.

Round Maple Wood Cutting Board Perez Family Cut out along the Top

Kim Strassner
Kim Strassner

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