How To Clean A Wooden Chopping Board

Ever noticed how your wooden chopping board starts to look a bit grim after regular use? You’ve probably figured out proper cleaning is essential to keeping your board from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, not to mention potentially adding unwanted flavours (eww!)

While plastic boards are often praised for being dishwasher-safe and lower in price, a wooden cutting board is much more durable and, in our opinion, is much nicer looking! It’s just that extra bit of care and looking after they need, right?

Whether you’ve been slicing, dicing, or kneading dough on it, keeping your board clean doesn’t have to be a chore, and a properly cleaned board ensures its longevity and keeps your food (and you!) safe.

So here are our do’s and don’t’s of how to clean and maintain your wooden cutting boards, so you to help them stay in tip-top shape, ready for whatever delicious homemade bread recipe you throw at them next!

A collection of three wooden chopping boards arranged with a bottle of cleaning spray and tin of protective wax

Why you need to clean your chopping board properly

I doubt it’s any kind of surprise that you need to clean a wooden cutting board properly. But it’s not just about making your board look like it belongs on a TV chef’s kitchen workbench – although that’s a nice bonus! The real reason we need to be diligent about cleaning our boards is for the sake of hygiene.

Think about all the different foods that come into contact with that surface – raw meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits. If you’re not careful, bacteria and food scraps can quickly build up and lead to some seriously nasty consequences. Aside from the obvious prevention of illness though, you probably don’t want the flavours (or germs) from your garlic and onions mixing with your fresh strawberries, do you?!

Happily, proper cleaning will take care of this for you, while also helping to extend the life of your chopping board. When you take care of your board the right way, it can last for years and years. It’s an investment in your kitchen that pays off in the long run,

Daily cleaning routine for wooden chopping boards

wooden chopping board,wooden cutting board

Step 1: Hot water rinse

After each use, give your board a good rinse with hot water. If there are any stubborn bits of food stuck on, use a scrub brush or sponge to gently work them off.

Step 2: Soap and scrub

Next, add a squirt of mild dish soap and give the board a thorough scrub. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where bacteria might be hiding. Don’t forget to clean both sides, even if you only used one.

Step 3: Rinse and dry

Rinse the board well with hot water to remove any soap residue. Then, use a clean towel or let the board air dry completely before putting it away. Moisture is the enemy of a wooden cutting board, so make sure it’s totally dry to prevent warping or cracking.

Additionally, storing the board upright is recommended to allow for air circulation and prevent moisture buildup, mould and bacteria growth, and unpleasant odours.

The key is to make this cleaning routine a habit. Every time you use your board, give it a quick hand wash. It only takes a few minutes but makes a world of difference in keeping your kitchen safe and hygienic.

Deeper cleaning and disinfecting

Deep cleaning a wooden chopping board with salt and half a lemon

Even with your best daily cleaning efforts, sometimes a trusty wooden cutting board needs a little extra TLC. Stubborn stains, odours, and bacteria can build up, especially in those pesky knife marks and scratches.

That’s where deep cleaning comes in. Think of it as a spa day for your board. A chance to get in there with some of your elbow grease, and give it a thorough scrub-down!

Salt & lemon

For tough stains and odours, try sprinkling coarse salt over the surface of your board. Then, take half a lemon and use it to scrub the salt into the wood, following the grain. The abrasiveness of the salt helps lift stains while the acidity of the lemon juice deodorises and disinfects.

Let the salt and lemon mixture sit for a few minutes, then rinse it off with hot water and dry. Your board will be left looking and smelling fresh and clean.

Baking soda

Another option is to make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the stained or smelly areas, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse. Baking soda is a natural odour absorber and gentle abrasive.

For really stubborn odours, you can even sprinkle baking soda over the board and let it sit overnight. In the morning, just brush it off and give the board a good rinse.

White vinegar

Another deep cleaning method is to use a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then spritz it over your board. Let it sit for a few minutes, then give it a good scrub with a brush or sponge.

The vinegar helps to disinfect and deodorise your board, while also helping to break down any grease or grime. Rinse it off with warm water and dry your board thoroughly.

The beauty of these three methods is that they use simple, natural ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. No harsh chemicals or special equipment are needed. So with a little elbow grease and these handy tricks, you can keep your wooden chopping board looking and smelling like new for years to come.

Longer term protection

A tin of Little Bread Winner's wood wax made from Australian beeswax and organic coconut oil
Little Bread Winner’s Wood Wax

Now you’ve given your board a good and thorough deep clean, it’s time to add some longer-term protection to help prevent the wood from drying out and cracking and to create a protective barrier against moisture and bacteria.

At Little Bread Winner, we recommend a high-quality beeswax product to protect your chopping board, however, you can also use a food-safe mineral oil, or olive oil, which will also do the job. Avoid using any vegetable oil or cooking oils though, as these can go rancid over time and leave your board with a funky smell.

Whichever you choose, regular application will help to keep the wood supple and moisturised, preventing it from becoming prone to cracking or warping.

Protecting your wooden chopping board

To protect your wooden board, start by making sure your board is clean and completely dry. Then, using a clean cloth or paper towel, apply a generous amount of your chosen product, be it a food-grade mineral oil, or our lovely beeswax, to the entire surface of your board, following the grain of the wood.


If you’re using an oil product, wipe off any excess oil, and let the coating soak in for at least 20-30 minutes, or even overnight if your board is particularly dry.


If you’re using a wax product, our short video below has everything you need to know on how to apply it to ensure your cutting board stays at its best.

When you’re done, your board should feel smooth and moisturised, but not greasy or sticky.

How often should you oil or wax your wooden chopping board?

How often you need to protect your wooden chopping board will depend on how often you use it and how dry your climate is. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to oil your board at least three or four times a year, or whenever it starts to look or feel dry.

If you live in a particularly dry climate or use your board frequently though, you may need to protect it more often. On the other hand, if you live in a humid climate or your cutting board only sees occasional use, you may not need to protect it so often.

The key is to make sure you give your board the care and attention it needs to stay in top shape. With regular oiling or waxing (and proper cleaning too, of course!), your wooden chopping board will be a trusty kitchen companion for years to come.

Scratches and knife marks

Close up of a wooden chopping board with cuts and scratches

No matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable that your wooden chopping board will develop some scratches and knife marks over time. While these sometimes hard-to-clean grooves may add character to your board, they can also make it more difficult to clean and sanitise properly.

Cleaning cuts and scratches

The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to deal with scratches and knife marks on your wooden chopping board:

  1. Sand it down: If your board has deep scratches or knife marks, you may need to sand it down to create a smooth surface again. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand in the direction of the wood grain until the scratches are gone.
  2. Oil or wax it regularly: Regular oiling can help to fill in small scratches and knife marks, making them less noticeable and less likely to harbour bacteria. Use a food-grade mineral oil, and follow the instructions above for oiling your board.

  3. Use a plastic cutting board for raw meat and poultry: Not only will this avoid cross-contamination, and avoid transferring bacteria, but you’ll likely use more force cutting them, so your board has more chance of picking up scratches.

  4. Replace it when necessary: If your board is deeply scratched, warped, or cracked, it may be time to replace it. A badly damaged or cracked board can be difficult to clean and sanitise properly, and may even be a safety hazard.

Preventing cuts and scratches

Of course, the best way to deal with scratches and knife marks on wood cutting boards is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips to help keep your wooden chopping board in top shape:

  1. Use sharp knives: Dull knives require more force to cut through food, which can cause deeper scratches and marks on your board. Keep your knives sharp to minimise damage.

  2. Chop gently: When chopping or slicing food, try to use gentle, even pressure. Avoid hacking or sawing at your food, which can cause deeper scratches.

  3. Use a cutting mat: If you’re worried about damaging your wooden chopping board, consider using a thin, flexible cutting mat on top of it. This can help to protect your board from scratches and knife marks.

Fresh sandwich and bread loaf on kitchen counter.

FAQs about cleaning your wooden chopping board

Can wooden chopping boards be washed?

Yes, but gently does it. Opt for regular hand washing using mild soap and warm water whenever possible

What is the quickest way to clean a wooden cutting board?

To keep it simple, hand wash the board with warm water and dish soap after use. Dry immediately and thoroughly. Avoid dishwashers or soaking your cutting board; it may cause warping or splitting.

What are the best ways to deep clean wooden chopping boards?

For deeper cleaning of your wooden chopping board, three good methods are using coarse salt and half a lemon, or a baking soda mixture.

Can I use white vinegar to disinfect a wood cutting board?

Yes, vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant. Wipe your board with paper towels with white vinegar after washing for an extra germ-killing kick and allow to completely air dry.

How do you clean raw meat off a wooden cutting board?

Clean promptly with hot soapy water, then follow up with vinegar to disinfect without harming the wood’s surface.

Cleaning up

We hope you found these tips about caring for your wooden cutting boards helpful!

Now you know how to keep your board spotless and hygienic, and tackle tough stains or smells using natural fixes like salt, lemon, or baking soda to help keep your board looking and performing its best for years to come!

So go ahead and chop, slice, and dice to your heart’s content – just be sure to give your board the TLC it deserves!

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About Little Bread Winner

If like us you love fresh bread, straight from the bakery, or even better your very own oven, but just can't seem to cut it without crushing the loaf, then you will love the Little Bread Winner.

Helping you get better in the Breadroom!