Cleaning and Maintaining a Wood Cutting Board

olive wood cutting boards
6 Min Reading

A wood cutting board is not only attractive but is easy on knives, lasts a long time, and, when properly cleaned, more sanitary than plastic cutting boards. You can’t have too many cutting boards in the kitchen. They are necessary for protecting the countertop and preparing vegetables, poultry, meat, and other foods. A quality cutting board is critical for food safety.

There has been an ongoing debate about the best type of cutting board. People argue about the safety of plastic versus a wooden cutting board. Studies have shown wooden cutting boards are safer. It is not necessary to throw out a plastic board. If you don’t clean a cutting board properly, it doesn’t matter which one you use.

Plastic vs. Wood Cutting Board

Plastic & Wooden Cutting Board

A plastic cutting board is less expensive than a wooden cutting board. It costs only a few dollars. A quality wooden cutting board costs a lot more. A plastic cutting board is non-porous; therefore, bacteria sit on the surface.

Bacteria breed in the scars and grooves created when using a knife. Cleaning a plastic cutting board is easy. Washing by hand with hot water or in the dishwasher are both options. It is advised to scrub it with a dish brush. Cutting vegetables on a plastic board is not a bad idea but use a wood cutting board for other raw foods.

plastic cutting board

A plastic cutting board wears out and needs to be replaced. An olive wood cutting board is safer to use, even though the wood is porous. Bacteria that touch the surface of a wooden cutting board sink to the bottom of the board and die.

The germs don’t remain on the surface and multiply. Proper maintenance and cleaning of a wood cutting board require a bit of knowledge and work, but the maintenance required pays off.

Cleaning a Wooden Cutting Board

For most kitchen items, the dishwasher is the perfect means of cleaning and sanitizing. Water can cause a wood cutting board to warp and crack. Cracks become a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause foodborne illness.

Cleaning with Dish Soap

Cleaning a Wooden Cutting Board with Dish Soap

Cleaning a wooden cutting board is easy. It requires only a sponge or brush, dish soap, and hot water from the tap. You can use either antibacterial or regular dish soap. As you scrub, give areas of inconsistencies, scratches, and knife marks extra hard scrubbing.

Scrub both sides to ensure proper cleaning, even if you only use one side of the wood cutting board. Juice from meats can drip to the other side and contaminate it. Thoroughly rinse both sides with hot water. Dry the wooden cutting board with a paper or cloth towel. It can also be drip-dried in an upright position.

Cleaning with Bleach


If your wood cutting board is used when cutting raw poultry and meat, use a tablespoon of bleach and a gallon of water to soak the cutting board. Soak it in the solution for three or four minutes. Then rinse it off and dry it.

Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar & Dish sponge

For a chemical-free product, you can mix one part of white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide with four parts of water. Soak the board in the solution for three or four minutes before rinsing it off and drying it. Regardless of what the board is soaked in, soak only for a few minutes to avoid cracking or warping.

Cleaning with Salt and Lemon

Salt and Lemon

Giving a wooden cutting board a monthly cleaning with salt and lemon is an excellent way to help maintain it. Sprinkle the board with coarse salt like kosher or sea salt. Cut a lemon in half and use the fleshy side to scrub the salt on both sides of the board. Allow the board to sit for approximately five minutes, then clean the board with a sponge, rinse it, and dry it.

Maintaining a Wood Cutting Board

mineral oil & wooden cutting board

To avoid warping, dryness, and cracking of a wooden cutting board, oil should be used on the board once per month. Warping causes a cutting board to wobble when chopping on it. The tiny cracks in splits harbor food gunk and moisture and form pockets for bacteria.

The task takes very little time. Cleaning the board using the salt and lemon method mentioned above is recommended. You can choose any of the above cleaning methods. Dry the board thoroughly before applying oil. When oiling the board, you need a product formulated for a wooden cutting board, food-grade mineral oil, or a beeswax and mineral oil beeswax blend.

Apply a thick coat on the front, back, and sides, the allow the board to soak for several hours or overnight. Conditioning a cutting board with oil keeps it lustrous and shiny. An oiled cutting board does not absorb a lot of moisture, reducing odors from food. It also protects against bacteria.

A cutting board is not a salad or sauté pan. Don’t use cooking oil to condition a wooden cutting board. Many chefs and manufacturers recommend food-grade mineral oil. Like paraffin and Vaseline, it is derived from petroleum. It is used to condition and seal the cutting board, not for cooking.

Best Wood Cutting Board Oil and Conditioner

Most people know about the importance of cleaning a wood cutting board. Cleaning is only part of maintaining and caring for a wooden cutting board. To keep it protected and looking the best, you’ll need a cutting board oil and conditioner to maintain the stylish, sleek appearance and its durability.

Mineral Oil

Wood Cutting Board Oil and Conditioner

Look at the oil ingredients, their consistency, and how to apply them when choosing the best products to use. The oil penetrates the surface of the wooden cutting board from overall dryness, splits, and cracks that allow bacteria to grow and emit a sour, rancid smell that will plague the board.

Mineral oil is the most common ingredient needed to keep the board in peak condition. Food-grade mineral oil is safe, tasteless, and odorless. It penetrates, hydrates, and seals to prevent drying, cracking, and rotting caused by prolonged water contact. The chances of becoming stained are reduced.


wood conditioner

All wood products subjected to repeated washings and use eventually need to be replaced, including wooden cutting boards. A wood conditioner further maintains the durability and appearance of a cutting board.

Conditioners have added ingredients, such as carnauba wax or beeswax to help seal the rejuvenating effect of an oil application. The extra layer extends the lifespan and adds more luster to the appearance of the wood.

The two products pictured here are excellent mineral oil and conditioner choices for maintaining a wood cutting board. They are Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil and Howard Products BBCO, Butcher Block Conditioner.

 Additional Tips 


As you prepare food, wipe the board’s surface often with a dishcloth or sponge. It makes cleanup more manageable when you’re finished. Wash it quickly after using it to prevent odors, food residue, and liquids from penetrating the wood.

Sprinkling baking soda over your wood cutting board removes stubborn stains. Rub with a damp, warm cloth, then rinse off any excess baking soda. If residue is caked on, scrubbing with an abrasive pad is alright. It should not scratch the cutting board.


An olive wood cutting board is gentle on knives and a pleasure to use. It is far more attractive than a plastic board. Wood is prone to warping and requires some maintenance, which includes hand washing and oiling regularly. If properly cared for, an olive wood cutting board will improve with age and last long.

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