How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

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Wooden cutting boards are a super handy kitchen tool, perfect for all your food prep needs! Chef’s and home cooks alike love wooden cutting boards for their beautiful look, gentleness on knives, and reliability over time.

If you want these boards to last a lifetime, though, they do require a small bit of care and maintenance. Unfortunately, wood is not the most durable material. While wooden cutting boards can be super reliable, they do have some issues when it comes to water.

Unlike with a glass cutting board or plastic cutting board, water can cause a lot of damage to a wooden cutting board, leading to them becoming dry, cracked, or warped over time. If you don’t pay attention and wash your wooden cutting board improperly, these issues can cause some serious damage.

This guide will get you washing your cutting board right, so you can keep it around for a long time. Let’s explore the right way to wash a wooden cutting board and techniques to keep it in good shape while staying squeaky clean.

How Do I Wash a Wooden Cutting Board?

Keeping your wooden cutting board clean and free of stubborn stains doesn’t have to be complicated! All you need to know is that these boards are hand wash only, and you need to treat them gently. Here’s how you can properly wash a wooden cutting board.

Step One: Remove Food Debris

The first thing you need to do is get your board nice and clear. Once you’re finished preparing your food, remove any large chunks or debris from the wood surface. You can gently use a paper towel, food scraper, or scrub brush to get anything stuck on loose.

This is the best approach, as soaking a board in water to get food loose can damage a wooden cutting board. It’s best to remove as much debris as possible while the board is dry.

Step Two: Add Soap and Scrub

Next, you’ll want to add nice gentle dish soap to your chopping board. We recommend using something unscented and milder, as wood is porous and can take on tastes and smells easily. Rub the soap in with a damp sponge or scrub brush, using hot water. Wash both sides of your cutting board.

Step Three: Rinse and Dry
Once washed, you should dry your board with a towel or soft cloth. Try to get your board as dry as possible with the clean cloth, then stand it up to air dry. Give your board at least an hour to air dry. Your board should be completely dry before you store it again.

Once your board is dry, you should consider oiling your board, which we’ll get into next.

How Do I Oil a Wooden Cutting Board?

The washing process can cause your cutting board to become dry and cracked. To avoid this, you should oil your wooden cutting board. Regular oiling is important to maintain your wooden cutting board.

With regular oil application, your cutting board is less likely to experience cracking and damage from being dried out due to water. Cutting board oiling also helps your board to become more water-resistant. This will let you clean your board with water easier, as your board will absorb less of it. It’s also great for deterring the absorption of harmful bacteria from foods you prep on the board.

You should go through this process at least once a month, but there’s no shame in doing it every time you wash! As long as your cutting board is completely dry then you can use this process.

Step One: Apply Oil

First, you’ll want to apply a generous amount of cutting board oil. Aim to buy a specific cutting board mineral oil, as these are best for a wood chopping board. We have more details about this in our cutting board oil buying guide.

Step Two: Rub in Oil

Once your food grade mineral oil is on the surface, rub it in using a soft cloth or sponge. Aim to coat your entire board, saturating both sides and all the edges.

Step Three: Let Sit

Once the oil is applied, leave your cutting board to sit for at least 2-4 hours to allow the oil to fully penetrate and absorb into your cutting board.

Step Four: Dry and Store

Once the food grade mineral oil is absorbed, you can store your cutting board. If it’s been hours and the board is still damp, you can wipe off the excess oil with a dry paper towel.

How Do I Remove Bad Smells From My Cutting Board?

Wooden cutting boards are porous, meaning they can absorb a lot of what your different ingredients or soaps let off. If you’re chopping a ton of garlic or leeks on a wooden cutting board, there’s a chance those flavors and smells will stick around.

Some soaps and board oils can even leave behind bad smells and tastes! That’s why we recommend going for odorless, tasteless products when maintaining a wooden cutting board.

Thankfully, if you have a smelly wooden cutting board, it’s not the end of the world. We have a simple cleaning hack that can save your cutting board.

Step One: Mix Vinegar and Water

First, you’ll want to make a mixture that is ¼ white vinegar, and ¾ plain water.

Step Two: Apply Mixture

Add your mixture to a spray bottle, if you have one, and spray your entire cutting board, front and back. If you do not have a spray bottle, you can apply this mixture with a towel or clean sponge.

Step Three: Let Air Dry

After you apply, let it dry! The distilled white vinegar should work to remove any lingering odors before disappearing itself. Once it’s dry, you can store your board.

Alternatively, you can also try the lemon and salt method:

Step One: Apply Salt

First, apply a layer of kosher salt or sea salt on the surface of the board.

Step Two: Add Lemon

Next, you’ll want to take a whole lemon and cut it in half. Squeeze out the lemon juice on top of the salt.

Step Three: Rub In

Next, take your lemon half to rub in the mixture of salt and lemon juice to coat the board.

Step Four: Dry and Remove

Next, let the mixture dry. Once dry, you can scrape it off and wash and dry the board as normal. All smells should be gone!

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