How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

Here’s how to clean a wooden cutting board so that you don’t get sick from harmful bacteria that may be lingering from the last use.

By Morgan Cutolo, Reader's Digest

Your wooden cutting board goes through a lot

It’s important to know how to clean a wooden cutting board because it can be covered in harmful bacteria and develop a gross smell. You might be using your cutting board to chop up raw meat and fish so it can be a breeding ground for E. coli, Salmonella, or Staphylococcus. Cleaning your wooden cutting board with warm water and standard dish soap is an acceptable way of washing it, but you’ll want to use these other cleaning agents to ensure that it’s sanitized as well. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to run out to the store to get some fancy cleaner. You can use one of these household cleaners that you probably already have in your cabinet.


If you already know how to clean a wooden cutting board, you know that vinegar is a great place to start. “Vinegar contains acetic acid. This acid will disinfect the board and prevent against common food-related sicknesses like Salmonella and E.coli,” says Jack Prenter, founder of Chore Bliss, a residential cleaning company that serves Toronto and the surrounding areas. Just apply vinegar to a clean rag and scrub your wooden cutting board. Not only will it disinfect, but it will also eliminate any odors.


After you’ve cleaned your wooden cutting board with hot water and soap, rub it down with a damp cloth dipped in salt. Alberto Navarrete, General Manager of Frisco Maids recommends salt as a great solution for how to clean a wooden cutting board because it is a good abrasive that will remove all of the stains and gunk. Navarrete suggests that you also mix the salt with vinegar or lemon to remove any odors from the board.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a surefire bacteria-killer—just the ally you need to fight the proliferation of bacteria on your cutting board, especially after you cut chicken or other meat. To kill the germs on your cutting board, use a paper towel to wipe the board down with hydrogen peroxide. Prenter warns, though, that you have to rinse the board down with water before using it again.

Baking soda

Keep your wooden cutting board cleaner by occasionally scrubbing it with a paste made from baking soda and water. Rinse thoroughly with hot water. “Baking soda is a safe natural product, non-toxic, unlike many other cleaners,” says Lily Cameron, a cleaning professional and supervisor at Fantastic Services. “It is effective as a cleaning agent because it is a mild alkali and can dissolve dirt and grease easily in water.”


If your cutting board smells after you chop onions, crush garlic, cut raw and cooked meat and chicken, or prepare fish, get rid of the odor by rubbing it all over with the cut side of half a lemon. After, pat it dry with paper towels and store it in a dry cupboard. Prenter says that the citric acid in lemons is far too weak to actually sanitize your cutting board, but it will help to remove any lingering smells.


For a butcher block cutting board or countertop, you never want to use furniture polish or any other household cleaner. Instead, clean the surface with a brush dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach diluted in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. Scrub in small circles, and be careful not to saturate the wood. Wipe with a slightly damp paper towel, then immediately buff dry with a clean cloth. The bleach will work to kill any harmful bacteria that may be lingering on your wooden cutting board.

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How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board
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