You might not think that a slab of wood requires upkeep, but your cutting board needs tender loving care. And how you clean your wooden cutting board will determine whether you’re replacing it every couple of years or whether it will last you an entire lifetime. In addition to wiping or washing your board after every use, your cutting board care regimen should include occasional additional maintenance—every other week or so—to keep the wood supple and well-conditioned.

How to clean a wooden cutting board

If you’re just pulling out your cutting board to slice a loaf of bread or halve a lemon, there’s really no need to clean; dust off the crumbs and be on your way. But if you have avocado smears or garlic juices marring your board, you’ll want to give it a wash with soapy water. Right off the bat: never put your wood cutting board in the dishwasher. Once the wood gets exposed to the heat and water, it’s more likely to crack or warp, and then it’ll be lost forever. 

Photo by Alex Lau

After removing any food debris, hand wash the board with warm water (dish soap is fine too). Make sure you’re getting the bottom, the edges and sides of the board. Most people only wash the top, and that actually ends up hurting the wood. When wood fibers are hit with moisture, they swell, and if the swelling isn’t uniform, it can warp the board. A rocking cutting board usually means that only one side was washed. 

To get rid of stubborn stains or smells, sprinkle a little coarse salt on your board’s surface, add some lemon juice, rub the paste into the surface, and let it sit for a few minutes. We also recommend MacKenzie’s Fisherman Hand Scrub, a gritty exfoliator that deodorizes both hands and cutting boards.

MacKenzie’s Fisherman Hand Scrub

After rinsing your board clean, wipe it down and let it air dry thoroughly overnight, standing it on edge so that both large faces are exposed.