How to Oil and Treat Wood Cutting Boards

Do you have wood cutting boards? If so — you need to check out this tutorial on how to oil and treat wood cutting boards. It will help them last for many years to come!

How to oil and maintain wood cutting boards

 

I remember in high school, one of my friends told me that her mom said that everyone needs a high quality wood cutting board. I remember thinking, “Weird. Not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of ‘must have kitchen item.'” However, I totally get it now.

Not only are they sturdy and can last for many decades, but they just look nice. We’ve acquired a few over the years, and I feel like they are some of our most prized kitchen items. They even make their way into about half of our pictures on this blog.

While plastic cutting boards are cheaper and generally work fine, they aren’t meant to last forever. If you’ve seen a plastic cutting board that has been using for awhile, it’s full of cuts and perhaps even miscolored a little bit. However, with a nice wooden cutting board, it’s something that actually just looks better with time — you could even pass it down to your family. And honestly, you can have the best knives in the world, but if you don’t have a quality cutting board, you might as well not have the good knives!

Here are a few I recommend:
Bamboo Style’s 3 Piece Bamboo Cutting Board Set
Maderia Mario Batali Teak Carving Board (this is similar to the one we have.)

Why

Wood cutting boards do take time and effort to maintain. If you don’t take care of them properly, they will get warped and start to crack…which isn’t desirable. If you don’t care if they last for a long time, then don’t take care of them. However, if you want them to last for a long time (which will save you money in the long run), taking a little bit of time to keep them looking nice is essential.

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Wood cutting boards should not be put in the dishwasher or left to soak in water. This will cause them to warp and not really be useful after awhile. However, if you go long without oiling them (as I’ll describe in a few seconds), they will dry out and start to crack. One of our wooden cutting boards has started to do this around the edge, simply because we didn’t realize that you needed to maintain them!

It also helps remove any smells or bacteria that wasn’t removed with washing. This makes it so your fruit doesn’t have the scent of a slab of meat. Not super appetizing right?

How Often

You really only need a few minutes each month to do the in-depth maintenance to keep them looking nice. If you use them very frequently, you might want to treat them more than that, and if you don’t use them much at all, you could probably get away with more than a month. However, wood cutting boards should be cleaned off with hot, soapy water after every use. Make sure to not put them in the dishwasher, pat them as dry as you can with a dish cloth, and then let them dry the rest of the way.

What You Need

Salt and Lemon (or baking soda)
Butcher Block and Cutting Board Oil (we bought ours at Home Depot) or Coconut Oil, melted
Clean dish cloth

It may  be tempting to use a cheaper oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, but the smell of them will ingrain itself into the board, making it smell strongly of either of those oils. The cutting board oil we bought was about 9 dollars, but after using it several times, it doesn’t even look like we used it. It should last you a long time, especially since you won’t need to use it every time.

How to Treat Wood Cutting Boards

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1. Place about a teaspoon of salt directly onto a cutting board. You can either put about a tablespoon of lemon juice on top of the salt or use half of a lemon to spread the salt around.

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2. Spread the salt around with the lemon (or if you use lemon juice + water, use a clean wash cloth), making sure to get all nooks and crannies of the board scrubbed well with it. The lemon and salt act as an anti-bacterial and helps get rid of any bacteria that may be lingering from the more frequent cleanings.

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3. Wash off all the salt and lemon with warm water.

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4. Using a cloth dish cloth, dry off the board as much as you can. Wait until it’s completely dry to move onto the next step.

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5. Either pour a small amount of the oil directly onto the board, or onto a clean paper towel.

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6. Rub the oil around on the cutting board until it’s well oiled — make sure to get all parts of the board, including the back side (even though you don’t probably use that part as much, or even ever, it’s still important to treat!)

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7. Let it dry completely before storing! Enjoy your beautiful cutting board!

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29 Comments

  • I use coconut oil. I also use it on my wooden spoons. Keeps them looking like new and makes it easier to clean off sauces and cheese.
  • Katie, my husband makes Curly Koa and Sandalwood cutting boards. We always do a lemon and sea salt wash..not soak it..then dry..then add food grade mineral oil..both sides. The cutting boards are 30 years plus and beautiful.my hubby is an artist here in Hawaii. His work is just beautiful! Hope this tip works.
  • Will this work on the cutting boards that are the pull out built in the counters? I hardly use it because it's to hard to clean and I think that would make it better.
  • Good tips. Instead of buying expensive cutting board oil ... use mineral oil. Read the ingredients of the cutting board oil. Yep it is mineral oil. You can find it in your local store next to the rubbing alcohol.
    • I have a center island table that is made of wood. It gets stained with oily foods that are put on it after cooking. I put salt on the stains & rub it with a lemon & leave it sit over night. In the morning, I wash it all off & no more stains! I don't oil it because I like the raw look, but it removes all the stains.
  • I highly recommend not using the same cutting board for meat as you use for anything else! It is too easy for the wood to soak up those meaty juices, and I would always be concerned about contaminating fruits and vegetables. I have a plastic one I reserve for meat, and the wooden one is for everything else.
    • I agree with this poster. Use plastic boards for all your raw meat cutting and wood ones for your veggies. The plastic boards can be cleaned in the dishwasher and/or soaked in bleach water every now and then to help sanitize it. And don't forget your wooden knife handles. They can get dirty from cutting raw meats and need this same lemon/salt and oiling to keep them looking good.
    • I don't know if your board would look completely like new, but I think it could definitely help. If anything, it will prevent it from getting worse.
  • One thing that we've done to keep the fruit from picking up funky meat smells is to label the two sides of the board "Fruit" and "Meat/Veg". That way we're always cutting the onions, garlic, and bits of meat on one side and slicing fruit on the other side and the two don't mix. This only works really well though if your not mixing the two styles in the same dish. Otherwise you could make your counter top kind of messy by flipping the cutting board over before you get a chance to wash it and let it dry.
  • I didn't know how to clean a wood cutting board. I have higher quality plastic boards that can go in the dishwasher. You're right though, some of them are a little discolored. I love the look of the teak boards. Maybe I will try one of those out. So good to be doing this challenge with you.

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