How to Oil a Cutting Board




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

Oiling a cutting board is a very important part of kitchen maintenance. Oiling a cutting board helps it fend off odors and stains and keeps it from cracking. It also makes it easier to wash!

I try to oil my cutting boards every couple weeks - but your time between oilings will vary with how often you use them and wash them. It's dead easy so you really have no excuse to not do it - an oiled cutting board with last much longer than one that's hurting for moisture. :D

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • any dry cutting board (it should look dull, the color should be lighter than normal)
  • cutting board oil (I use mineral oil)
  • a clean rag
Keep in mind that it is important to use the right oil. Never use cooking oils because they can go rancid - they can also be very sticky. Mineral oil is cheap and safe, but you can also choose to use walnut or coconut oils - even melted beeswax! Use what works best for you - basically whatever you have on hand. :D

Step 2: How to Oil the Cutting Board

Pour a small amount of oil (maybe a teaspoon or so - I always eyeball it!) onto your cloth.

Wipe the surface of the cutting board, rubbing gently to get the oil everywhere. You will continue to add more oil and rub until the entire surface of the board is glossy and will take in no extra oil. Make sure to get the sides of the cutting board as well!

Make sure to add the oil little by little so that it gets a chance to sink in to the wood.

Now turn the board over the do the back in the same way.

Step 3: Resting and Wiping Off Excess

Once you've oiled the board all over, let it sit for a few minutes and let the oil fully sink in.

Then go back over all sides of the board with the cloth to remove any excess oil. Now you're good to cut on it!

I've included additional photos of the board before and after oiling to give you a good idea of just how drastic the effect is.

Step 4: General Wooden Cutting Board Maintanence and Tips

  • never leave a wooden cutting board in water - it can cause it to crack once it dries. Always wash it right away!
  • if a cutting board develops lots of deep cuts or surface stains, sand it lightly and season it with oil.
  • never cut or place raw meat on a wooden cutting board - I have separate plastic cutting boards just for meat.
  • to clean a cutting board, I recommend hand washing it in warm water and liquid soap. Try not to use anything super scented as the wood can absorb the scent. :) I have never put a wooden cutting board in a dishwasher, though it's fantastic for plastic ones.
  • straight vinegar (spray it on) or half a lemon are also good for disinfecting and cleaning a wooden board
  • use both sides of a wooden cutting board so one side does not become overly worn
  • try to use different areas of the cutting board surface so you don't wear out just one area.
  • you can oil a butcher block in the same way - I have a kitchen cart with a butcher block top and I oil it just as often as my boards.
Follow these tips and oil your cutting board regularly and you'll have a wonderful cutting board that will last you for ages!



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    13 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    To be honest, I'm not a big fan of using mineral oil. That stuff is derived from petroleum. In the past I have used straight up Olive Oil but the problem with most plant based oils is that when they get in contact with water, they become rancid. Then the cutting boards will have a very weird smell which can actually affect the taste of your food. I have actually recently come across a product that works very well and is 100% natural, I recommend it over any mineral oil based product. I have yet to try the wax that they offer but it seems like a really cool product.

    Cutting Board Oil - Caron & Doucet 2015.jpg
    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Look at the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) on your all natural cutting board oil. Most likely it's 95% mineral oil and 5% vitamin E (a food grade antioxidant). While mineral oil is from petroleum, it is a liquid paraffin (think candle wax but liquid). It is completely unsaturated (no double bonds between carbon atoms) so it does not oxidize or turn rancid. And it is listed by the FDA as an "intestinal lubricant", and is safe to ingest. If you really want natural, then I suggest getting beeswax, melting it, and rubbing it in while liquid. Once it hardens, you can toss the cutting board in the oven on the lowest setting. Once warm, the excess beeswax can be quickly wiped away. Buff the board while warm with a clean cloth. Viola!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I found something interesting... Johnsons now make an unfragranced baby oil called "first touch" for absolutely newborn babies. It's only ingredient is Liquid Paraffin, (pure mineral oil) and its about £1.50 for a bottle.

    I'd report that it works great, although you'd expect that considering its the exact same pure mineral oil as the £9.99 tiny bottle of board oil.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Way back when I was in the pizza business, [when dinosaurs roamed the Earth!!!] we ONLY had wooden cutting boards. To clean them daily or more often as needed, we used dish soap and h-o-t water. No soaking, no floating, etc. In and out to get 'em wet, scrubbed with a 3M greenie pad.

    If they ever got really munged up, [usually by someone new to restaurants / cooking] we'd use salt and just enough water to get it damp. Again, green scrubbies, elbow grease and re-oil after wards.

    I've got a cutting board that used to belong to my M-i-L, that has never been oiled, has horrendous cut marks in it, but it's 65 year old oak, and hard as iron. It's the best surface in the kitchen actually, and cleans up quite well.

    Kath G

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I have just made a huge mistake, treating the cutting board with vegetable oil. Worse than that, it has been on there - both sides - for 2 days. What can I do to fix this huge error?

    1 reply
    jessyratfinkKath G

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh no! I would wash in warm/hot water with lots and lots of dish soap. Something like Dawn because it's really good at cutting through oil. You might have to do it a few times before it loses the stickiness! Just make sure not to soak it in water, because it could damage the wood. :)

    After that let it dry and oil it as soon as you can - all the hot water will strip it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I have done this and it works very well, also you can use the same technique to help keep wooden or bamboo cooking spoons in good condition.


    6 years ago on Step 4

    I disagree with the information about not using wooden cutting boards for meat. Plastic is very porous as well and it can store bacteria from meat and poultry. The issue with plastic is that it has little anti-fungal or anti-bacterial properties. Additionally, since there are no oils added to the plastic boards they cannot gain these properties. Wooden boards however are naturally anti-fungal/bacterial and adding a good oil like coconut oil that also has these capabilities is the best protection against these sorts of problems.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    1. Many people in the pro-wood camp point to a study conducted by Ak, Cliver and Kaspar in 1994 at the University of California at Davis Food Safety Laboratory .... In reality, their findings were that the bacteria actually were drawn into the wood through capillary action. Once inside the wood, the bacteria no longer reproduced and eventually died off. For an excellent defense of this study, please see Dr. Dean Cliver’s discussion.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, I have some coconut oil,. thank you for the suggestion. (although I must admit I use glass and plastic cutting boards most of the time)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very informative ible

    and taking sides

    My Wife has designated one cutting board side as Vegetable

    and the other side as the Fruit side.

    Keeps the garlic out of the strawberries :-)