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How to Clean and Care for a Wooden Cutting Board

Man cutting herbs on a wooden cutting board: Image: Michael Burrows

December 2021


If you have a wooden cutting board and like to cook, you probably use it on a daily basis. Wood cutting boards are safer to use than plastic because they aren’t as slippery to cut on, but many people worry about the wood absorbing bacteria. The surface of the wood does absorb bacteria, but it actually sinks down to the bottom layers of the wood and dies instead of staying at the surface and multiplying. Like any kitchen tool, your wood cutting board requires regular cleaning and maintenance. With a little TLC you can be sure yours will serve you well for years to come.

It’s essential to clean a cutting board after each use and wooden cutting boards should always be hand-washed. If you’re ever tempted to put yours in the dishwasher thinking it will get sanitized, don’t do it. First, it’s not necessary. Second, the prolonged exposure to water and heat can warp, or even crack your cutting board.

Just wipe the board down with warm, soapy water and towel dry after use. Stand the board on its edge until completely dry and store flat after it’s dry. To remove odors, rub lemon juice into the board and then wash normally. If your cutting board becomes stained, rub a paste of Kosher salt and water into the stain until it’s removed.

To extend the life of your cutting board, you should oil it every three to four weeks. Unfinished wood will eventually dry out and crack if it isn’t oiled. While you can buy oil made specifically for the job, inexpensive mineral oil works great and is safe for contact with food. Just coat the board with oil on all sides, rub it in, and wipe it down with a paper towel or soft cloth.