How To Clean Your Wooden Chopping Board Easily

From your stainless steel and toaster to your deep fat fryer, cleaning your kitchen tools is always a must. What’s next then? A good quality wooden cutting board should last you anywhere between five to ten years. However, the promised lifespan comes with a caveat. If you want your beautiful butcher block to look and smell like it’s almost brand new – you’ll need to know how to look after it properly. There’s more to cleaning and maintaining a wood cutting board than you might think. Plus, there’s the fact, unlike non-porous plastic cutting boards, wooden ones are absorbent – which means a proper disinfecting routine is definitely a must. That’s where we can help. 

Wooden chopping board over kitchen towel

Before you have nightmares of being elbow-deep in soapy suds – take a calming breath. Then take a comfy seat and join us on this journey as we impart all kinds of knowledge about cleaning and preserving your wooden chopping boards<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>.

Why you should keep your wooden chopping board clean

Before we get down to highlighting the fine art of looking after chopping boards, let’s take a moment to understand why cleaning (and sometimes deep-cleaning) them is so important

Let’s face it. If we home-cooks had the choice, we’d pick a wood cutting board over a plastic one any day of the week. That’s because wooden boards don’t dull knives, and they’re certainly more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, the rumour that says plastic boards are more hygienic is entirely false. Plastic cutting boards will often accumulate icky bacteria because of the grooves and crevices knives leave behind on their surface. 

Here’s what’s brilliant about hardwood boards. They’re naturally antimicrobial because the capillaries in the wood grain help suck down the fluids on the surface. This helps in trapping and killing the bacteria off as the wood slowly dries. So, you don’t have to worry about cutting raw meat on your wood boards. 

However, that doesn’t mean you’re off scot-free when you bring home a wooden chopping board. The fact that wood’s absorbent means it will soak in fluids and odours. Daily cleaning is a must to ensure the harmful bacteria population stays under control if you regularly use your chopping board. 

Over time, chopping veggies like onions and other pungent ingredients on your board can leave behind a stink you don’t want to deal with. Also, odours will only get worse the longer the board is in use. Think about it, how comfortable would you be cutting up anything on a wood board that stinks to the high heavens? Not much, we’re guessing. 

Finally, leaving your wood boards dirty after use can also encourage the growth of nasties like mould and mildew – which isn’t something you want in your daily diet. That’s why it’s always wise to have a few top-notch cleaning hacks in your corner to ensure your wooden cutting board and anything you chop on it are perfectly clean and safe to consume

Woman washing a wooden board with water

Best ways to clean your wooden chopping board

Right, let’s get down to business. You’ll be happy to learn you have quite a few options when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting a wooden cutting board. Some are more time-consuming than others but trust us; they’re all quite effective at producing results. 

Also, don’t ever be tempted to stick your cutting board in the dishwasher for sanitising purposes. The hot water cycle of your dishwasher may end up cleaning the board, but it’ll also cause it to take on water and warp or crack. To make matters worse, those tiny cracks can go on to become excellent breeding grounds for germs and microbes that can leech onto your food. Going back to the topic at hand, here are a few ways you can clean your wood cutting board

1. Cleaning With Regular Dish Soap

One of the easiest ways to clean your wood chopping board is by hand. Grab your soft sponge (never a scouring pad), dish soap, and turn on the hot water tap. Make sure to rinse the board with water thoroughly before applying the soapy sponge. You also have the option of using an anti-bacterial dish detergent if you want. 

  • Take your time scrubbing the surface of the wooden board, and make sure you pay special attention to the scratches and knife marks while scrubbing. Also, don’t forget to wash both sides of the cutting board, even if you only use one side. That’s because the fluids of meat and other ingredients can just as easily run on the other side. 
  • Once you’re done scrubbing both sides, turn on the tap and rinse vigorously. Finally, dry off the board with a clean, soft cloth (to avoid cross-contamination) or paper towel and store in a ventilated spot. 

2. Cleaning With Salt & Lemon

We know what you’re thinking. You’re trying to clean a mess, not make a bigger one. But, here’s the thing. Cleaning your wood chopping boards with salt and lemon at least once a month will work wonders at eliminating any lingering odours

Lemon and salt on wood

  • Start by grabbing some coarse salt (such as kosher salt) and sprinkle it all over the board. 
  • Next, slice a lemon in half, and use one side (fleshy side down) to rub the salt on the board. Allow the board to soak in the lemon and salt mixture for about 5 minutes
  • The mixture of lemon juice plus the salt will act as a natural anti-septic and target any reek-causing substances absorbed by the board. Repeat the process for the other side of the cutting board. 
  • Then rinse the cutting board with warm water and soap. Pat with a kitchen towel and set the board aside to air dry

Hint: You can clean your wood cutting board with one cup of baking soda mixed with one cup of white vinegar for extremely acrid odours. Apply the mixture with a sponge and try not to rub the mixture on the board too much. Let the mixture stay on for two minutes, then rinse the board with warm water and wipe down with a fresh, soft towel).

3. Cleaning With Vinegar

If you want to disinfect or sanitize your wood cutting board – without the use of any chemicals, then a vinegar soak is in order. 

White vinegar on wooden table

  • Mix four parts water with one part of white vinegar, and allow your cutting board to soak in the liquid for about three to four minutes max. Don’t let your cutting board sit in the water for too long because this can lead to cracks or warping
  • Once the time’s up, take the board out and rinse it with soap and water. Dry the chopping board with a clean towel and allow it to dry in the air. 

Hint: try replacing one part vinegar with one part hydrogen peroxide if you don’t have the stuff at home). 

4. Cleaning With Bleach

If you’ve been using your cutting board for chopping meat and poultry, you can also disinfect the board using bleach

  • Mix one tablespoon of bleach in 3.8 litres of water and let your board soak in the solution for two to three minutes. 
  • Once the soak is done, take the board out of the solution, and wash it off using soap and water. Dry the board with a clean cloth and leave it in a well-ventilated spot.

How to maintain your wooden chopping board

Maintaining your chopping board to avoid warping and cracking isn’t at all difficult. All you need to do is oil the board once a month to keep it looking bright and shiny. 

  • Start the process by cleaning your board thoroughly, either in soapy water or with lemon juice and salt. Once your clean wooden board is perfectly dry, grab some food-grade mineral oil
  • Apply the oil to a clean cloth, and rub it on the wooden board in circular motions to absorb the oil. Make sure to apply a thin coat of oil on all sides of wooden cutting boards and let the board soak the oil overnight. However, remember to wash the board before its next use. Also, don’t be tempted to replace mineral oil with options like avocado or olive oil

Note: to make the effects of oiling your cutting board last longer, purchase food-safe beeswax to rub on the board after it’s been oiled. Beeswax seal the oil in the board and lengthen the time in between oilings). 

Wooden chopping board with spices on wooden background

What’s the one thing cookware, countertops, and wooden cutting boards have in common? They all need to be cleaned regularly to ensure proper hygiene. The good thing about cleaning wood chopping boards is that it’s generally effortless, doesn’t take up too much time (unlike other types of kitchen cleaning rituals), and will extend the life of your cutting board by years. As parting advice, we recommend thoroughly researching all kinds of cleaning tips to ensure your kitchen gadgets aren’t damaged in any way.

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