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How To Clean a Wooden Cutting Board + the Salt Trick That Wipes Out Stubborn Stains

Plus, the founder of The Good Home Co., shares her brilliant essential oil tip to rid your board of odors

Whether your kitchen is a hotspot for cooking delicious feasts that require expert meat chopping, or you just like to have cut-up veggies on hand, you’re likely using your wooden cutting board to get it all done. And since it isn’t dishwasher safe like plastic cutting boards, knowing how to clean a wooden cutting board from the stains that herbs and veggies can leave behind and the salmonella-causing raw meat particles that get stuck to the board (without damaging the wood), is key. Fortunately, we’ve tapped experts for the easiest methods that ensure your wooden board is clean, deodorized and conditioned so you can continue to use it for years to come. Read on for the easy how-tos.

Why do wooden cutting boards require special care?

wooden cutting board display
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

“Wooden cutting boards are porous, which means they can trap moisture and food particles,” says cooking pro Karrie Truman of The combo can lead to harmful bacteria growth on the board, but proper care keeps them safe for food prep.

What’s more? Well-cared for wooden cutting boards aren’t just functional for daily use in your kitchen, they can be heirloom pieces that are beautiful to use and display, says home decor blogger Kim Pepper of “If you have gorgeous, well-cared-for wooden cutting boards you can store them out in the open in your kitchen, which is a fabulous space saver.”

Also great: The boards also make for amazing serving pieces. “From a party charcuterie board filled with meats and cheeses to snacks for two, we use cutting boards all the time when entertaining,” says Pepper.

Can you put a wooden cutting board in the dishwasher?

To wash a wooden cutting board, experts at say that you shouldn’t be using the dishwasher at all. Why? The prolonged exposure to water and heat in the dishwasher can cause a wooden board to warp or crack as the changes in temperature and moisture levels make the wood fibers expand and contract, ruining your flat chopping surface. Cracks in the wood can also become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods that you’re chopping on your board. To avoid this, skip the dishwasher and read on to learn the easy ways to clean wooden cutting board:

The easiest way to clean a wooden cutting board

Caring for a wooden cutting board is much different than managing a regular plastic one. To clean a wooden cutting board, the USDA recommends washing it with hot and soapy water just after using the board. After washing, be sure to let your cutting board air dry completely before storing it, notes Pepper.

Want to dry the board faster? Try hand-drying dry your board with a paper towel or non-fibrous cloth, which will absorb excess water so it doesn’t soak into the board and cause damage like splitting and cracking.

How to disinfect a wooden cutting board

If you’re cutting meat on your board, it’s important to be especially careful as to not let bad bacteria live and grow on the board’s surface. To help with this, the USDA recommends using a solution of one tablespoon of unscented liquid bleach to one gallon of water. Then, simply cover (not submerge) it in a layer of the solution and let stand for a few minutes. Next, rinse well, pat dry with paper towels or a soft cloth, then let air dry.

How to clean stains from a wooden cutting board

Salt spread onto wooden cutting board

Argh! Pomegranates, beets, parsley and other colorful foods always leave stains on your cutting board, and oftentimes scrubbing with dish soap doesn’t do the trick to nix the discoloration.

Truman’s save: Make a thick baking soda and water paste. Simply add enough water to ¼ cup of baking soda to form a paste, then rub the paste into the stains on the board. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then gently scrub with a brush or sponge; rinse and let dry. The gently abrasive baking soda buffs away any discoloration.

Also smart: sprinkle salt all over the board, wet a sponge with hot water and rub the salt in until the marks are gone, then wipe dry with a towel. The salt granules will scour away any lingering food particles and cutting stains.

Tip: For added stain-fighting power swap the sponge and hot water for a halved lemon and scrub down the board, then rinse and pat dry with a towel. The lemon’s acids act as a natural bleach to cut through tough food stains.

Related: Home Pros’ Easy *Butter* Trick Gets Stains Out of Wood Fast + More Genius Tips

To rid a wooden cutting board of odors

A bottle of oregano essential oil
Madeleine_Steinbach/Getty Images

You can easily refresh your cutting boards without using harsh chemicals that might seep into your food, says home-cleaning expert Christine Dimmick, founder of the The Good Home Co. ( Just add eight drops of oil of oregano (Buy from Amazon, $9.99) to one cup of water and douse your wooden boards with it, shake off excess water, then let dry. “It’s a natural antibacterial and it smells great!”

How to condition a wooden cutting board

Beyond just keeping the boards clean, regularly treating them with oil can ensure they don’t warp or crack over time. “Using a food-grade mineral oil on your wooden cutting board helps to preserve it and keep the wood beautiful for years,” assures Pepper. The protective layer of oil prevents germs and bacteria from getting into the dents and cuts in the surface of your board, plus conditions the wood.

To oil your board, simply purchase a food-grade mineral oil for cutting boards, like Thirteen Chefs Cutting Board Oil (Buy from Amazon, $13.99). Then apply a squeeze of the mineral oil to the center of the clean board. Using a clean paint brush or cooking brush, brush the oil to cover the entire board, making sure that the board is soaked completely in a thin layer. Leave it to dry overnight, standing upright on a drying rack.

Note: It’s important to avoid using oils like olive oil or vegetable oil since they will turn rancid and ruin your board.

This YouTube video shows how to do it with ease:

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