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Cleaning and Conditioning Wooden Cutting Boards

by Michele on April 16, 2011

I love my old wooden cutting board.  I know plastic is much easier to sanitize and plastic boards come in all the jazzy colors of the rainbow; but for me, nothing compares to the feeling I get when I pull out my big wooden board and giant chef’s knife.  Anyone who sees those two items on the kitchen counter knows something good is on the way. 

I use one side of my board for fruit and bread and the other side for veggies, onions, garlic, etc.   There’s nothing ickier than diving into a gorgeous fruit salad that whispers mmmm…garlicy goodness..on the back end of each bite you swallow, and dedicating sides solves that problem.

Even used for fruit, veggies, and breads only, my wooden board occasionally needs some tender loving care.  Although I  spray the board down with pure white vinegar and rinse well after each use to sanitize; the board can still hold pungent odors and the wood can become dry and brittle.

About once a month or so, here are the steps I follow to keep a clean, fresh, and well conditioned board.

To Deodorize Your Wooden Cutting Board

How to clean cutting board 1

First, scrub both sides of the board with coarse salt and lemon juice.  You can see by the picture that there’s no need to use the pretty lemons you’ve got set aside for something yummy.  The sad, spotted ones forgotten on the bottom of the crisper drawer work very well as long as they’re still fresh and juicy inside.

Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of salt on your board and use half a lemon as a scrubber – mCleaning Your Cutting Board 3oving in a circular motion all over your board until it’s covered in juicy, salty goodness. Repeat on second side.

Let the lemon juice and salt sit on the board for five minutes or so and rinse both sides well with hot water.

Dry your board with clean paper towel.

Allow the board to dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.

To Condition Your Seasoned Wooden Cutting Board

Conditioning your board will prevent it from drying out and cracking. 

How to Clean Cutting Board Use a soft cloth or paper towel to rub gently warmed mineral oil into your board with the grain of the wood. 

Don’t use olive oil, canola oil, etc.  Vegetable based oils will turn rancid. 

Don’t leave your board dripping in oil; but don’t skimp either.

Allow the oil to soak into the board for a few minutes then remove all surface oil with a clean dry cloth.  The oil seals the pores of the wood and helps prevent moisture from seeping into the board.How to Clean Cutting Board 4


Happy cook or not, safety is safety; and I always use plastic boards for cutting meat (cooked or uncooked) and cheese.  I can toss them into the dishwasher and never worry that I missed a belly busting bug.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharla July 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

Wait, isn’t Mineral Oil a Petroleum based product? I don’t think I want to put that on surfaces where it could be transferred to my food. Any thoughts on a non-toxic alternative?


Michele July 24, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hi! I know how you feel. The idea of using mineral oil seemed wrong to me too. I did the research, though, and it’s used safely. My preference would have been a food-grade oil of some sort; but I was consistently told these oils go rancid on the board over time. If you find an alternative to the mineral oil I’d love for you to share it with the readers at Fit Foodista :)


syd May 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

what if the board has dried to the point of the grain raising and becoming uneven?(not smooth)


Michele May 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

If the board is uneven, before washing or oiling, you can use a fine grained sand paper to gently even out the surface.


Kankana April 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm

wow this is very useful post!!


Alea Milham April 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Great post! I recently bought a nice wood cutting board and I wasn’t sure how to take care of it properly.


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