How to care for a wooden cutting board – 3 expert tips to clean and preserve yours

Wondering how to care for a wooden cutting board the professional way? This method will preserve your wood for good

wooden cutting board
(Image credit: Amazon)

Knowing how to care for a wooden cutting board (the right way) comes down to more than sanitary details. While having a safe food preparation space is essential, the humble chopping board is more than just a practical tool; you need to ensure its aesthetics are taken care of too as part of the process if it is to last. 

Because while cleaning a kitchen begins with a naturally safe and spotless wood cutting board, its looks do indicate its overall health, and this is no longer a practical element to hide away in your kitchen cabinets. Instead, a wooden cutting board is to be shown off – everybody from Shea McGee to Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market appreciate their natural beauty. 

The good news is that it's possible to preserve a wooden cutting board for years to come, but you need to know how to take care of it properly. These steps will leave you with a stain-free board that will continue to make a (sanitary) statement in your kitchen.

How to care for a wooden cutting board – like professional chefs do

White kitchen with vein style countertops

(Image credit: deVOL)

'Caring for a wooden cutting board comes down to two things: cleaning and conditioning,' says Spokane-based professional chef Sylvia Fountaine. 'You want your cutting board to be a sanitary surface for preparing food, and you also want to maintain the natural beauty of the wood,' she adds. This is how to achieve both. 

1. How to deep clean a wooden cutting board 

To clean your wooden cutting board professionally, you will need soap, hydrogen peroxide, and a scrub brush (such as this one from Amazon).

'Using your scrub brush, scrub away any stuck-on food or stains with hot, soapy water and rinse,' Sylvia says. 'Then, using a spray bottle, spritz the board with hydrogen peroxide – I like this more than commercial sanitizers, but that would work too.'

Sylvia explains that the peroxide will start to bubble and foam – this is a sign that it's working and getting rid of any bacteria. After this, she suggests rinsing the peroxide and giving the cutting board a wipe with a dry cloth. We like Lysol, which you can also buy from Amazon.

2. Avoid water-damaging a wooden cutting board

'Leaving your wooden cutting board in water can make it warp, so dry it as much as possible before allowing it to air dry, and never leave it in the sink,' Sylvia adds. 

Alex Adgar, the designer and founder of Tormar emphasizes the chef's warning, adding that wood is a naturally porous material, so leaving it in the sink will lead to water damage. 'As long as your cutting board is never left standing in water and oiled regularly, it will last a lifetime,' he says.  

3. Condition a wooden cutting board

After washing, Alex and Sylvia both note the importance of conditioning a wooden cutting board. 'When we have dry skin, we use lotion, and for a natural material like wood, it's the same thing- without conditioning, it gets dry, tight, and cracked,' Sylvia says. 

While this may seem like an extra task, the experts suggest that the conditioning step is the secret to preserving its lifespan. 

'You can use simple mineral oil and massage it into the wood, giving it a nice depth of color and wiping away the excess oil with a clean cloth. Your cutting board will be smooth, rich in color, and ready for use,' Sylvia explains.

How do you clean a wooden cutting board naturally?

You can clean a wooden cutting board without cleaning products. As with many similar surfaces, cleaning with vinegar works to clean and sanitize them effectively. Start by wiping any debris off the cutting board, then soak a clean cloth in white vinegar; squeeze it out gently then wipe it over the surface of the board. Allow to sit and soak for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. To remove stains or odors, while the vinegar is soaking in, you can clean with baking soda and lemon juice: simply sprinkle the damp vinegar-soaked board with baking soda or salt, take half a lemon, pulp side down and rub it vigorously across the surface. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry before conditioning the wood.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.