Best Way to Clean a Cutting Board





Introduction: Best Way to Clean a Cutting Board

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Mart...

It's important to clean and disinfect your wood cutting boards on a regular basis, but washing with soap and water can damage the wood over time, causing the surface grain to swell and become rough - and after time split the board clean through!

I'm going to show you the best way to sanitize, deodorize and maintain your cutting boards without having to use dish soap or lots of water!

Step 1: Cleaning & Disinfecting: Daily Maintenance

I like to keep small labeled spray bottles full of the following on hand (but out of reach of little hands) to help make the cleaning process quick and easy:

  • 100% distilled white vinegar
  • pharmacy grade 3% hydrogen peroxide

Every Day Cleaning

After Vegetables: After general use (aka non-meat cutting), remove debris with a slightly damp cloth and spray the surface with vinegar, wiping it dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Vinegar is an effective disinfectant, as the acetic acid it contains combats E.coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus.

After Meat & Poultry: I used to fear using my wooden cutting boards for cutting chicken and other meats, but now I go for it - and just do the following for clean up:

Remove debris with a damp paper towel. First clean with vinegar as described above, then spray on an even coat of 3% hydrogen peroxide, making sure to cover the entire surface. Leave for 2-3 minutes, then wipe surface again with a damp paper towel. Let air dry.

Hydrogen Peroxide is a champion at killing bacteria, so it's powers combined with those of vinegar = a germ free board!

Note: If there are already cracks in your board from washing with water, relegate that one to veggie cutting only, as you can't be guaranteed that those crevices will be disinfected properly.

Step 2: Cleaning & Disinfecting: Monthly Maintenance

Once a Month Maintenance

It's a good idea to do a deep monthly cleaning. To do this, add 4-5 drops of bleach to a small bowl of cold water and using a small stiff bristle brush (a fingernail brush would do the trick), gently clean the surface, moving the brush in small circles. Be careful not to soak the wood with too much water.

Once finished, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and follow up immediately with a clean dry cloth.

Note: If you must wash your board with soap and water, NEVER submerge the board! Instead run a soapy cloth or sponge under cold water and squeeze most of the water out before wiping down the board. Be sure to dry it vertically so there's less chance that the water will get absorbed into the wood before evaporating.

Step 3: Deodorizing

If you're cleaning your board regularly, it should stay smelling pretty fresh, but if you do a marathon onion chopping session or come across some particularly odorous garlic, here's what to do:

Wash the surface as outlined in step 1 and follow up with a thin coat of fresh lemon juice.

The simplest way to do this is to cut a lemon piece and rub it on, but you will be left with small lemon bits (pulp) that you'll need to wipe off after the surface dries.

What I like to do involves a bit more prep work on the front end, but will save you time not having to deal with the bits. Just juice a whole lemon and strain it, pouring the 'pulp free' juice into another little spray bottle. Keep it in the fridge for some 'get fresh quick' cutting board action!

Step 4: Rub & Buff

To keep your board looking fresh, mix together:

  • one tbsp baking soda
  • one tbsp salt
  • one tbsp water

Dip a clean dry cloth into the paste and gently buff the surface of your board, going in the direction of the grain. When done, wipe the surface with a clean damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth.

Note: If you have gauges or cut marks that can't be buffed out and you'd like to restore a smooth surface, take your board to a local woodworker and have them plane it down. This will take a very small amount of surface wood off of one or both sides, giving you a truly fresh new surface!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your methods and suggestions in the comments section below!



    • Backpack Challenge

      Backpack Challenge
    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    18 Discussions

    Hi. I was wondering what brush this is. I like the tall handle. it is wire? I would like to find one like this.

    Thumbs up all the way!

    I have Nylon cutting boards. But they get stained when cutting meat. Any tips to clean them?

    1 reply

    bleach is the only way I've managed to keep mine white. just spray some bleach on them, or pour some bleach and spread it with a kitchen glove.

    Great way of maintaining a cutting board, definitelly will try it myself.


    2 years ago

    I have several knife sharpener. They work very well.?

    An iodine solution is used to sanitize for beer production. I ue the recommended strength on all the kitchen surfaces while I am spraying my brewing equipment. the mild solution does not seem to stain even the lightest wood.

    Buy ionized water to clean the board. It will kill 99% of all bacteria. We use it and when swabbed and tested the level of anything bad is not detectable.

    In my understanding wooden boards have natural germ eating enzymes that help to keep the board free of problems. We have had very good quality cutting boards for decades now and have never got sick with the transference of bacteria. Properly treated and wiped down without the use of chemicals your boards should pose no problems as long as you are not the problem in not wiping the board clean after every use. We have had beef and chicken on the board one after the other without ever having a problem. Some people are just too fussy. In the back room of your butcher shop you would not be very happy with what you see.


    2 years ago

    I have decided to use porcelain (tile - 12 x 24inches), as my cutting board. I no longer have to be concerned about cracks, and what not. I have been using vinegar to clean, but after reading this, electronic purchase bottle of peroxide. Thank's for tip!?. If you decide to follow what I did.. if you back it with flex seal, make sure of it being dry...completely! I did back mine with another pc of tile... works like a charm!!!

    2 replies

    Porcelain tile may be easy to clean but is very hard on your kitchen knives. Porcelain can be used to sharpen knives so it will conversely ruin the cutting edge as well. If you have poor quality knives then go ahead and use the porcelain board.

    Porcelain surface will dull your knife in no time. Consider rubber or plastic. Wood is best. The cracks seal themselves naturally...

    Thank You!

    I have tried all but the bleach. now that I know it is okay in that quantity and that often I am glad to hear and will start marking the calendar.

    thank you for sharing.

    The cutboard really needs a carefull hygene. I have a separate cuttingboard for row meat (a polyethylene one, and I put it in the dishes mashine)- For the wooden one I use baking soda , and I scrub it by an half lemon in the direction of the grain. It produce oxygen and disinfect it, then I rinse it.

    I have also a (beautiful) olive wood cutboard, but I keep it only for brad, cakes and dry non smelling stuff.

    2 replies

    Lemon and Baking Soda do NOT produce oxygen.

    Lemon (Ascorbic Acid) + Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) produce Carbon Dioxide.

    If your board is made of beech, warm water and a little rock-salt will do the job just as well. The enzymes in the wood will kill the bacteria, and a concentrated salt solution will not only get any they miss, but the salt grains will clean your board of any microscopic food debris.

    I just oil my board before use and clean (not soak) with hot water ans sometimes soap if cutting meat. then I do the salt and soda wash you do once in awhile and dry and oil again. thin oils like grapeseed work good.