How To Clean A Wooden Cutting Board

How To Clean A Wooden Cutting Board

Last Updated on June 27, 2023

How To Clean An Old Wooden Cutting Board

Cleaning a cutting board that is not wooden is straight forward. You can use bleach and soap on those, but when it comes to cleaning a wooden cutting board there are different rules to follow to keep the board from deteriorating or becoming a germ-infested surface.

The type of wood that your cutting board is made from determines how sanitized your board will be after cleaning. The harder the wood, the more it pulls down the fluid which traps bacteria and kills it after the board is washed and dried.

The end pieces of wood are used to make the strongest wooden cutting boards and resist deep wood bacteria and knife blade impacts. These are made from Oak, Cherry, Hard Maple, Birch and Walnut. Soft woods typically split and crack from knife impact. The soft wood also holds bacteria in the cracks of the wood as well, making it unsafe to use.

Keeping your board clean is key to ensuring you a safe place to cut your food up on. Below are some of the items you can use to clean your wooden cutting board or even clean a wooden knife block.

Ways of Cleaning Your Wooden Cutting Board

[toc]First, it is not recommended that you use bleach on wood as it disables the natural properties that kill bacteria. Bleach also breaks down the wood and can weaken the surface of the board. It is recommended you use a product with ammonia instead such as Mr. Clean. The bottle usually has instructions on the dilution amounts. Ammonia will kill the germs, but maybe you want to use a more organic product.

If you prefer a more natural germ killers, there are a few items that will disinfect your wooden cutting board without those harsh chemicals. A mixture of white vinegar and baking soda will kill E.Coli, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella.

Vinegar contains acetic acid which kills the germs, and the baking soda will deodorize it so it is fresh and clean. Let the mixture bubble up for about ten minutes then wipe it off with a wet cloth. Once the vinegar is dry there is very little odor left over, so this is a great natural disinfectant to use.

Another great bacteria killer is hydrogen peroxide. Wipe the board down with a vinegar saturated paper towel first, then follow it with a paper towel saturated with hydrogen peroxide. This will kill germs without putting your board in danger of breaking down.

Though it is not always recommended, if you use your cutting board for only vegetables, nuts and fruits, you can wash it by using dish soap and rinsing it off under running water, but make sure it is dry. Leaving a wet cutting board allows bacteria to grow inside of it because bacteria loves moisture.

To clean stains off a cutting board, sprinkle with coarse salt. Using a clean brush or sponge dipped in hot water and scrubbing some coarse salt around the board will remove stains, but will not kill germs. This method is great to get those pesky stains off the wood.

Fresh lemon is a great way to deodorize a smelly cutting board. The wooden cutting board tends to hold odors of garlic, onions, fish, peppers and whatever else smells. The lemon will cut right through the odor and leave it smelling fresh.

It is recommended that you wash vegetables and fruits to remove any dirt or pesticides so that they don’t make their way onto your wooden cutting board. This will help to keep other food you cut on the board free from becoming contaminated.

Using an oil to keep your board conditioned is also recommended. Do not use vegetable oil or olive oil as these become sour quickly. Rather use a mineral oil, almond oil or walnut oil as good alternatives.

The more humid the environment you live in, the less you need to oil your board. It should be oiled four times a year in humid environments, and every month in drier climates. To do this, use a clean cloth and wipe the oil going with the grain.

Then buff the oil into the grain with another clean rag or towel. It is not necessary to wipe it off. Let it get into the wood and moisturize it naturally. This will increase the life of your wooden cutting board.

One thing you should never do with a wooden cutting board is to put it in the dishwasher. The high heat and excessive amounts of water dry out the board and make it warp, split and crack.

Never soak your cutting board in the sink for two reasons. One, by putting a contaminated board in a sink full of water, it will contaminate the water, so do not put anything else in it. The second reason is that this will also warp, split and crack your board.

Always dry off the board and stand it up to dry completely where air can circulate around it. This ensures that all the bacteria will be eliminated.

If your cutting board becomes scarred from knife marks as mine often does as I use a Shun Kaji knife that is super sharp, you can sand it down to smooth its surface thus restoring it to its original beauty. You should start by cleaning the surface of your cutting board with dish soap and warm water and dry completely.

Use a 60-grit sandpaper to start. This is an aggressive grit and it will remove the gashes and slices and give the surface a clean look. Then switch to 100 or 120 grit sandpaper to give the surface a nice smooth feel.

After cleaning the dust off with a damp cloth, warm a cup of mineral oil and ½ teaspoon of beeswax in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Once you can handle it, rub it into the surface of the wooden cutting board going with the grain. Let it sit and absorb overnight.

In the morning wipe off the excessive oil and add a coat of beeswax to the board. Allow that coat to dry, then remove the excess with a clean cloth to shine it, and viola, your wooden cutting board is as good as new!


  1. Thank you for sharing these valuable tips on how to clean a wooden cutting board. I have always used soap and water to clean my cutting board, but now I know that I should not soak it or put it in the dishwasher. Can I use any type of vinegar to clean my cutting board, or does it have to be white vinegar?

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