CLEANING TIPS: HOW TO DE-GROSS YOUR CUTTING BOARD.

Unless you’re a first semester, first year University student with a cafeteria pass, you probably own a cutting board.

Or if you’re a baby. If you’re a baby you almost certainly don’t own a cutting board. Pfttt. What would a baby do with a cutting board?  A baby barely even knows how to set out a decent mise en place.

Mind you, if you were a baby you couldn’t read either, and you wouldn’t be reading this blog. So scratch the baby part, it doesn’t apply.

Let’s move on. We’ve determined you probably own a cutting board. You also probably have no idea how to clean it. I’m not saying this because I think you’re dirty and stupid. I say it because I have never spoken to anyone who actually seems to know how to clean a wood cutting board.

A plastic cutting board is easy to clean. Throw it in the dishwasher.

A glass cutting board is…well…you really shouldn’t own a glass cutting board. They dull your knives and the sound of cutting on them is horrible. Throw it out.

A wood cutting board, however, is a bit more complicated. To clean and sanitize it you can’t just throw it into the dishwasher.   And what about those stains? How do you get rid of those? I have the answers for you all.

But first I want to talk a little bit about WHY you should own a wood cutting board, not a plastic one.  You probably think that plastic is more sanitary because it isn’t porous like wood.  Therefore your very logical mind tells you that bacteria can’t get trapped in plastic the way it can in wood.  Things like chicken juice and steak blood.

WRONG.

Wood is a far more sanitary than plastic.  Let me say that again in case you missed it …

Wood is more sanitary than plastic. 

UC-Davis studied the bacteria levels of plastic versus wood cutting boards and found that wood is naturally antibacterial.

A plastic cutting board retains bacteria in its scars (the places a knife has scarred the surface).  It doesn’t matter how much you scrub it, wash it or put it through the dishwasher, plastic holds onto bacteria and allows it to multiply.

On the other hand, bacteria dies in or on a scarred hard wood surface.  It naturally kills bacteria.

You can read a little bit more about the UC-Davis study here.

HOW TO CLEAN A CUTTING BOARD

How to clean a wood cutting board

This is what you need to clean and sanitize your wooden cutting board:

Salt
Lemon Juice
Baking Soda
Water
Bleach
Mineral Oil

These are the directions for a heavy duty, tip to tail cleaning.  Each step takes care of a separate problem so feel free to only do what you think is necessary for your board. I got this cutting board at a garage sale. It was laying in some dirt. Next to a cigarette butt.   So…I felt doing all the steps was necessary. It’s a really good cutting board (Bariboo) by the way. That’s why it’s worth the effort.

 

Step 1: General Cleaning

How to clean a wood cutting board

Pour a mound of Kosher salt in the centre of the board. Add enough lemon juice to make a paste. Swirl it around the cutting board and scour it with a coarse sponge.

When you’ve scoured enough, rinse your board and dry it with paper towels.

(if you want to do a really good job, leave the salt solution on for a few hours…the salt will draw out impurities and liquid in the board as it dries)

Step 2: Stain and Odor Removal

How to clean a wood cutting board

 

Pour a mound of Baking Soda onto the centre of the board. Add enough water until a paste is formed. Rub it all around the board. If you’re doing a really good job, it’ll start to stink.

Rinse the board and dry it with paper towels. See how much nicer it looks already? No stains. No sticky.

Step 3: Sanitize, Killing the Bacteria that probably isn’t there but will make you feel better to do it.

How to clean a wood cutting board

This is the step you probably don’t need to do but might make you feel better.

Mix together 1 teaspoon of bleach with 4 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the surface of the board until it’s soaked. Let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the bleach solution off and dry with paper towels.

Allow the board to completely dry out before moving onto the next step.

Step 4: Condition

How to clean a wood cutting board

Grab yourself some Mineral Oil. It needs to be the edible kind, which you’ll find in a drugstore. If it says USP after “Mineral Oil” it’s food grade/edible. But don’t eat it. It promotes the slithers. The poops. You can buy bona fide Butcher Block oil, but Mineral Oil is the exact same thing and it’s much cheaper.

Pour the Mineral Oil on a rag and rub the surface of the board. You want to soak it. This board was so dry it soaked in immediately. Keep soaking it until it doesn’t soak in anymore. Leave the board overnight.

The next day wipe off any remaining Mineral oil. Rinse the board and wipe it dry with paper towels.  If the cutting board was really dried out then you might have to do this step a few times.

You’re done!

How to clean a wood cutting board

Your board is ready for cutting a Big Mac on. Or if you’re super healthy like me, an apple. ‘Cause I only eat apples and red peppers and wholesome foods.  Also there’s no need to cut potato chips.

Not into picking up cutting boards from next to cigarette butts at garage sales?  This one is a beauty and checks off all the boxes.  It’s an end grain hardwood with a big enough work surface to carve a chicken on plus it’s under $100.  Remember.  You want end grain, not edge grain.

If you still can’t be bothered to buy or clean your cutting board, just get yourself a cafeteria pass.

 

 

 

140 Comments

  1. Theresa says:

    love it- i use the lemon and sakt – don’t like the bleach – but will try the mineral oil.

    • Karen says:

      Theresa – This amount of bleach is harmless. Plus, you rinse it off after a couple of minutes. And there is *no other way* to kill the bacteria caused by raw meats. So if you don’t use bleach on your wooden cutting board, you shouldn’t cut poultry, beef, pork or any other meat on it. Kay? That’s all I’m asking. Well that’s not true. A few days ago I was asking for money. That’s all I’m asking today, I guess. 🙂 ~ karen

      • jen says:

        I always use salt and a little water. I rub it around with my hands and the plus is that the salt makes your hands really soft just like exfoliating.Never knew about the baking soda but I’ll give it a try. LOve all your nifty bits of info.
        Thanks

        • Karen says:

          Jen – Thanks! The truth is, if I only had time to do one thing it would be cleaning with the baking soda and water. It actually does a wayyyy better job of getting rid of stains and smells than the salt and lemon juice! Using the salt and lemon juice is good for a relatively clean board, but if you have some “ick” go with the baking soda paste. You’ll be amazed at the gooky colour it gets. Blech. ~ karen

          • Miriam says:

            Would the baking soda work on my oiled wooden worktop? I’ve an area beside the kettle, where bottles of oil sit, and it is icky icky.
            The wood retains its antibacterial properties as long as you don’t wash or scrub it with wash-up liquid or put it in a dishwasher.

            • Bunguin says:

              I have an oak and walnut butcher block.

              Do not use baking soda, I repeat, DO NOT use baking soda on the walnut. I mistakenly tried to use a baking soda poultice on the walnut block once and it turned the walnut wood a blackish purple color. It was awful, I had to lightly sand it to get the stain off. If you use baking soda – just apply it, and wash it off immediately.

              I can tell you that the salt/lemon combo will draw out stains (like from the two metals cans I left on it, or the iron skillet…. ooops) without damaging the color of the walnut or oak (I’ve done this on both). You can leave the salt/lemon on for a decent amount of time (~hours) and wash it off, and then re-oil and it’s like nothing happened.

      • Amy Schmucker says:

        YEah but Karen,
        Go back and look at your picture of the cutting board and the spray bottle.

        See the parsely plant… the one you eat…. you srayed the bleach water on the poor thing too… Hope it doesn’t die on you and I wouldn’t eat it or use it for garnish either.

        I don’t own use the wood cutting boards anymore. Too much hassel.

        • Karen says:

          Amy – LOL. I knew someone would spot that. I actually just pulled the parsley in for the pretty when I was shooting the pics! I think she’ll survive. We’ll see, I guess! 🙂 ~ karen

      • Julie says:

        Thought you just said “bacteria dies in or on a scarred hard wood surface. It naturally kills bacteria.”

        • Karen says:

          Yes, you’re right Julie. But if you have an old gross chopping block that you’re particularly squeamish about then bleach it. Like I wrote in the post it’s mainly to make you feel better. What end cut wood does is prevent bacteria from multiplying. So it dies off instead of multiplying like it would on a smooth plastic surface for instance. ~ karen!

          • Mary W says:

            I’ve never had a wood cutting block – just plastic which I roll up to clean so any stuff in the cuts will get soap. That probably doesn’t work but I didn’t know how else. Now I know to buy wood. I was shocked that you said end grain as that would seem the opposite of clean. So, I’m going to listen to you and search for end grain – still seems very weird. It is so much more porous than side grain. I’ve used baking soda poultice on bee stings and it works great to pull/draw out the stinger/hurt. I also use it with vinegar to clean my drains each month with hot water chaser. You are just full of —– knowledge that I admire. Thanks.

  2. Cassandra says:

    YOU are the new best blogger. keep it up.

  3. JessieB says:

    I believe that diluted vinegar can also be used to sanitize, in place of bleach — for anti-bleach folks 🙂

    • Karen says:

      JessieB – Thanks Jessie. Yes! Vinegar is a good sanitizer … but it isn’t as good as bleach. And why are people anti-bleach for cleaning? It’s 1 tsp. diluted in 4 cups of water. You can use those proportions to clean children’s toys! I’m not suggesting people bathe in it, or use it in place of vodka in a martini … just kill a little salmonella with it, then rinse it away. (this diatribe was not directed at you JessieB … or anyone else for that matter. Just your basic, general rant) ~ karen

      • Melissa says:

        You mean we shouldn’t use bleach as a replacement for vodka in our martinis?

        Drat.

      • billy sharpstick says:

        Your pool probably has that much chlorine in it.

        • Linda says:

          Bleach evaporates quickly and that is why the chlorine in pools needs to be checked and added so frequently. In the restaurants, a drop of bleach used to be added to a tub of rinse water after the suds and before the final rinse to sanitize dishes and silverware.
          Just rinse and your good. Love this blog!!

        • Sarah McDonnell says:

          Maybe we should all replace pool chlorine with vodka for natural cleanliness. Just a thought.

      • Brandy says:

        Besides….that solution is used in most commercial kitchens as the final rinse for most hand washed dishes as well as for wiping off counters and tables. A food service inspector will actually test your solution to make sure there is the right amount of bleach in it 🙂 See….you were already using it and didn’t know it!!!

      • sera says:

        Honestly? I worked in a coffee shop where someone got a little overzealous with the bleach regularly. She nearly put someone in the hospital from bleach fumes.
        That and I always wear black so I’m worried I’m going to spill it on myself and destroy all my clothing.
        Why does bleach not come in a container with a smaller hole at the top?

      • Bunguin says:

        Actually, if you have bad eczema, a cap full or two of bleach in your bathwater can help. So you can bathe in it too, really.

  4. Whitney says:

    Maybe I’m just really lazy… but that seems like a heck of a lot of work to clean one cutting board. I’ll stick with the plastic. Or the glass. I’ll just get ear plugs and a knife sharpener 😉

    • Karen says:

      Whitney – Oh don’t be silly. You only have to do all of these things if you found your cutting board on the ground beside a cigarello. Just do whatever your board needs. Stains? Use baking soda paste. Just needs freshening up? Salt and lemon juice. Mineral Oil? Mmmm … once every few months. Or … as you say just use plastic. ~ karen

  5. cool. I’m trying some of these tonight!

  6. Erin says:

    That was one hilarious post, mostly because you said “The poops.”

    Anyway, thanks for the posting on the various ways to clean wooden cutting boards because I never knew how! I shall clean mine soon. [Hopefully sooner than a year from now!]

    Cheers,

    Erin

  7. Thanks Karen!

    So when I get sick of my McD delivery and pull out my butcher’s block I will know what to do!!

    😉
    AC

  8. Sharon Woo says:

    You had me at SLITHERS!!!

    • Mary W says:

      Great word – my brother calls it porcelain blasting, dipootus of the blow-hole. Too much imagery in that description and will switch to slithers. LOL

  9. Emily says:

    I am a second semester Senior and my house mates and I have been wondering about how to clean the wooden cutting board, especially since we don’t own a dish washer. By hand has been the option. Pray that we continue to survive with good health until we purchase some bleach.

  10. Dieu says:

    Would you do the same thing for a bamboo cutting board? I mean specifically the mineral spirits.

    ps. love your blog. read the entire thing last week, as in, every single post. so much stuff I now know how to do and just waiting for that chance to pull those knowledge jewels out for use.

    • JaneS says:

      Mineral spirits and mineral oil are not the same thing. Mineral spirits are for cleaning paint brushes and are stinky. You wouldn’t want that on your cutting board.

    • Katie P NC says:

      I didn’t know I needed this post in my life but I did.
      I second this question, my cutting board is bamboo as well, are the tips the same? I don’t have a dish washer so if you have any tips (or if these are ok for plastic cutting boards too) please share.

      I LOVE your blog. It really is the highlight of my morning. I have shared it with so many friends because every single day you tickle my funny bone.

  11. Eva says:

    Thanks fo the tips on cleaning cutting boards. My sporadically useful brain always remembers about seasoning with oil, but could never remember “which” oil…the only clue I ever retrieve was that it should be “edible.” And of course, my brain works well enough to know that between the one in the garage, and the one in the pantry, the vegetable was the edible one. I have always used that for my board. Just for the record, it seems to work.

    This article also triggered some old synapses that store useless, weird facts and surprisingly some had to do with wood vs plastic cutting boards, which was cleaner? Wood was actually safer… I guess something in the wood prevents bacteria from multiplying and they *die.* In plastic they hide out and party in all the little microscopic grooves made from the knife. Handwashing plastic was useless, even the bleach treatment was marginally effective, and had to be done exactly right. Dishwashing, and nuking, (as in microwave) are the only reliable ways to sanitize a plastic cutting board.

    Here’s link to an article that must have been behind how I knew this: http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm

    • lori says:

      Eva I totally agree with you!! a wooden cutting board is much safer. though at this time I myself don’t have one 🙁 Will have to keep an eye out for one at the garage sales and antique shops I love to go to.

    • Elissa says:

      Eva: I’ve been told (and read from quite a few sources) that olive and vegetable oil should not be used for wooden cutting boards because it goes rancid and can contaminate your food.

  12. CJ says:

    So worth doing everything for a beautiful timber board that’s gorgeous to prepare food on and leave out – mine is tasmanian sassafras. I do, however, also have a frequently replaced nasty plastic one hidden above the microwave for meat cutting because it is faster to wash…

  13. I love how witty your blogs are. And it’s always a nice reminder that people don’t have to have it “all together” and be “perfect”!

  14. Todd says:

    We used to have an awesome wooden cutting board. It was such a PITA to clean that we gave it away, and bought a plastic one. Is it as cool? Perhaps not. Is it simple to maintain? Oh heck ya! I even went and bought a smaller one for those smaller jobs. 🙂

  15. Connor says:

    I think you stalk me. I was just talking about this and had honestly come to the conclusion that sticking it in the oven for a few minutes might just be the best way to go… I guess I was thinking along the lines of the sponge in the microwave trick?
    In theory I can do this for all of my, um, kitchen wood? (Unrelated to your spring pornography, I swear!)
    Thanks, Karen!

    • Bev says:

      Hey Connor,
      Actually you are not totally wrong with the oven trick. One of the ways to stop germs breeding and growing on wood is to dry it out completely. If you have cooked something, and the oven is still warm, or can stack the board behind a warm hob to dry it works a treat! My mother swears by that trick, best not to actually have the oven or hob turned on though … *shudders to think*.

      Bev-ski

  16. Hana says:

    I’m not anti-bleach as such, but since a few years back my cats decided they really enjoy licking freshly cleaned surfaces (?!?) and making themselves sick, I just stopped cleaning with anything I wouldn’t put in my mouth. (OK, I wouldn’t really put baking soda in my mouth… but, y’know, the principle of it… and stuff.)So since there’s no bleach in the house, it’ll have to be vinegar for me.

    With that said, I actually do put my wooden boards in the dishwasher. They swell a little, but they also get that wonderfully “worn”, “rustic”, “farmhouse”, “vintage”, “muted”, “nature-found” and-other-hipster-words-de-jour vibe that makes them photograph so well. ^^

  17. LOL..is it offense to say that I enjoy reading these comments than the blog itself??? 😉 Just kidding! I love this post. Learning something new everyday! Thanks!

  18. Oona says:

    How is it that you always seem to have the most practical information at exactly the moment in life that I need said information? I think you are psychic. And awesome, but that goes without saying, of course.

  19. Kathy says:

    This is great, Karen – thank you! Just one question, though – will these same techniques work for bamboo cutting boards, as well? I have a very garlicky bamboo sucker on my hands right now…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy! I’ve never tried these techniques on bamboo, so I hate to give you advice. Having said that … I can’t think of any reason why any of these methods wouldn’t work on bamboo! I’d go for it. If you have a stink, use the baking soda with water paste. Rub it in with your hands. Rub and rub and rub, then rinse. Then do it again if you need to. Good luck! ~ karen

  20. Bill Grigg says:

    Why are people so anti bleach, anyway? Bleach is just chlorine, like they add to the water system to sanitize the water. Chlorine bleach also dissipates quickly. In fact, old bleach should be disposed of, as it, quite quickly, loses it’s strength. If your bleach container is over six months old, it’s probably only quarter or half strength. Yes, even if its tightly closed and in a dark cupboard.

    I keep a spray bottle of bleach dilute (pretty much your proportions) handy to spritz down the table, counter and stove top.

    I also use plastic cutting boards for meat, and only chop veggies, tubers and bread on my wood board. And NEVER beets, the stains never comes out of the wood.

    Handy tips about cleaning the wooden cutting boards. Nothing I didn’t already know, but I’ll give you a hand for fitting in the prosthetic leg!

    • Tina says:

      Thanks Bill! Exactly the same thing I was going to comment. Anyone who has eaten at a restaurant or cafeteria or whatever has had their items washed with bleach. It’s a required additive to rinse water! There, and I’ll bet it hasn’t bothered them at all!

      I have a wonderful, very old, solid teak board and I set a pan of beets on it. The bottom had beet juice on and I’ve bleached it and tried everything! I hate to sand it (although it’s at least 3 inches thick) but that’s all I can think to get the stain out. Any other ideas?

      • Bunguin says:

        Try a poultice of kosher salt and lemon juice. Put a piece of plastic wrap over it too (to keep it from drying out). I’ve had major success with the lemon/salt/furious scrubbing combo for beets/strawberries/blackberry stains.

  21. Perfect timing. My cutting board smells of onions when I wipe it down these days. How often should one sanitize their board??

    For some reason I am craving a big mac now… heard on twitter today that they have cadbury cream egg mcflurries now! OMG

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dana – Technically you should sanitize the cutting board you use for meat after every use. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a plastic cutting board for meat. You can just throw it in the dishwasher. As for the wooden cutting board, which you can use for vegetables, bread etc … it’s also probably best to do it after every use. But let’s be real here. Uh … no one’s going to do that. Sometimes I do it once a month, sometimes I do it once a week. If you keep a spray bottle with a weak solution of vinegar and water or bleach and water, it makes sanitizing after every use really easy. Phew. There you go. I’ve explained NOTHING. ~ karen

    • Nicole Sparks says:

      Those insane McFlurries are only in Canada. Pity. 😉

  22. Lisa says:

    You know, if you use a fresh lemon, you squeeze out the juice, then use the half-lemon to scrub it and you don’t have to use a sponge.

    And I have the EXACT same cutting board. Since I use a plastic one for meats, I only do the bleach thing about one every 6 mo. or as needed if something happens. The salt/lemon/vinegar thing is done about weekly, but I also wash it with diluted dish soap and rinse/dry after each use. Mineral oil as needed!

  23. Svaha says:

    Seasoning a wooden cutting board with mineral oil is an important maintenance step and helps bacteria from forming to begin with. NEVER wash a wooden cutting board in the the dishwasher. And as Eva noted about wooden boards are actually safer than plastic boards. I make cutting boards and an old saying I go by is this…

    Oil it once a day for a week.
    Once a week for a month.
    Once a month for a year.
    Once a year for the rest of it’s life.

    Most wooden boards you buy will have probably only had a couple coats put on. Once a month is a good place to start with a new store bought (or one found beside a cigarette butt) board.

    Some brands of oils use the term Butcher Block Finish or Food Safe Finish. Technically it’s not a finish, it needs to be reapplied periodically.

  24. Cynthia Erkin says:

    Why is everyone freaking out about bleach?

    What about Mineral Oil??? It’s a petroleum by-product from the distillation of gasoline. Personally I will not use any type of petroleum product for cosmetics, household cleaning, etc.. This also goes for paraffin candles.

    Check out:
    http://www.epicureantable.com/articles/acandles.htm

    Everything else you’ve suggested seems great, and natural. I’d use it all, except Mineral Oil!!

  25. megan says:

    My mom taught me to use olive oil to oil my cutting boards, and I think her mother taught her… So I’ve never used mineral oil. Are my mom and grandma wrong on this one?

    • Karen says:

      Megan – Well. Um. Yes. They’re wrong. But I’m sure they still loved you. The reason you use Mineral Oil is because it’s more stable. Olive oil will go rancid over time. Mineral Oil will not. So with olive oil your board could have a tendency to stink of rancid oil, and then transfer this stink/bad taste to your foods. But I’m sure they loved you. ~ karen

      • Elaine says:

        Love your reply, Karen! It reminded me of a Frasier scene when Frasier was paranoid about something and the father was almost going to say Frasier was nuts, but worded it more kindly by (haltingly) saying “no, you’re not crazy; you’re … um … special”. Was so funny.

  26. I was wondering about those two things and of course you answered them. This was helpful and hysterical, as always. PS I use beeswax instead of mineral oil, but not as often as I should.

  27. Lynn says:

    thanks for this! super helpful!

    Can I rant for a minute? …because I feel this needs to be said somewhere and where better than in the comments of a cutting board post? Those little plastic sheet that people (why god why??) insist on using as “cutting boards” are nothing more than plastic sheets!! They make me mad! They are not cutting boards, they are instruments of kitchen torture! Any person that has a nice cutting board with the anti slip feet on it knows that those things are horrible. They slip, they slide, they make cutting anything into a daredevil act. I like sharp knives. With a flimsy cutting sheet i am more likely to take off a finger. Boycott cutting sheets! >_<

    ok, rant over. 🙂

  28. Pam'a says:

    And now, the counterpoint on thin plastic cutting sheets:

    1. You can toss them in the dishwasher.
    2. You can designate a “Meat” one.
    3. After dicing something up on one, you can bend it and slide diced article into a pot without feeding the cats half of it.
    4. They’re cheap, cheap, cheap.

    On the other hand, they’re kind of tacky. And I discovered just a couple of nights ago that you can’t put one on top of chicken to pound it thin. That is, unless you want to destroy it. Which, of course, you might want.

    • Mama Toto says:

      I use the heavier plastic sheets for all of the above reasons and haven’t had problems with slipping & sliding. I got them because I got some new expensive knives which I didn’t want to dull. They aren’t pretty but I keep them in a drawer. I have a wooden board but stopped using it because I didn’t think it was sanitary, so maybe I’ll resurrect it and see if I can be bothered fussing with it!

  29. Michelle says:

    Do you think this would work with lime juice? Call me crazy but I have this whole island butcher block and a thing of lime juice. I am thinking all three steps on the whole thing. I may need wine though. This could be a thing.

    Ooooh also it’s got a bit of warp to it. Any cures for unwarpping wood?

    • Karen says:

      Michelle – LOL. I’m sure Lime Juice would be O.K., but really what that island probably needs is mineral oil. There are a few ways to “unwarp” wood, none of which have been terribly successful for me. Google it. By the time I get around to doing a post on it, you’ll have moved. ~ karen

      • Svaha says:

        To unwarp it, if it’s a normal board thickness, say less than 1″ thick, put it in the dishwasher for the wash & rinse cycles to get it really wet. Then place it on a flat surface that gets a lot of sun with something heavy as hell on top of it. The water, sun, and weight will flatten it out (usually). After it flattens out, mineral oil it a couple of times and it will be good as new. After that try to keep it as dry as you can barring regular cleaning.

        • Karen says:

          Svaha! Thanks! Yes I’d read about that solution, but I (like Michelle) have an actual chopping block which doesn’t easily fit into a dishwasher! 🙂 I tried soaking it with water and drying it to no avail. Excellent solution for a cutting board tho. 🙁 ~ karen

  30. Ali says:

    Wow! One of the most useful posts I`ve found in the last time! Yeaaaaahy! 🙂 Good Bye my awful icky wooden cutting board!!! 😀 Thank you! 🙂

  31. JennyM says:

    This is so timely — I just bleached and oiled my butcher-block island thingy (inherited from a previous renter) which has a weirdo moldy-looking stain on it, to no avail. Well, I mean, it looks cleaner and better everywhere but the weirdo stain. I will try the lemon juice/salt and baking soda/water tricks and see if I can’t freshen that puppy up proper!

  32. elisa says:

    you could use oxygen bleach, it accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t kill fish and everything else. there are versions for your laundry as well. or, you can use a dilution of tea tree oil, which is proven to kill everything you’d want to kill, but nothing you wouldn’t want to (like your cat, the parsley, and those fish). also good in laundry.

    i just bought an old wooden cutting board just for cutting meat on, and i shall be rubbing it with baking soda til it smells. lovely. x

  33. Jane A. says:

    Whoa, THAT WORKED GREAT. I was skeptical. I fished my board out of the recyclables; it looked WAY more disgusting than yours. Also, mine had deep, black (gik!) cuts and your butcher block didn’t.

    I did the whole drill exactly as instructed and: the freaking board is gorgeous!

    Also, your shots are great.

    God bless the bloggers!
    or Blog guess the bodders….)

    Jane in NYC

  34. Jane A. says:

    Except now I’m pissed at all the grotty butcher blocks I passed up in Goodwill. Back I go.

    I’m a NYC ad copywriter and I’m telling ya: your tabletop shots are really great.

    j.

  35. iti says:

    OMG, people bleach cannot sanitize wood, as it is porous. Bleach can only sanitize non-porous items. There are wood sanitizers that actually can sanitize wood.

  36. aba says:

    Instead of using bleach couldn’t you find a way to use the prosthetic leg in your basement to disinfect the cutting board?

  37. Hi Karen. Thanks for the info. After 25 years, I’m on my own again, which includes cooking and cleaning. I’m used to a high level of sanitation and I want to keep it that way. I okay with the basics, but there’s so many methods and “tricks” I have yet to learn. Thanks again for making being a new divorcee a little more tolerable.

    • Tina says:

      Welcome to the world of the singles! When ex and I divorced, I went to visit him monthly (or had him to visit me) to give him lessons. We’d been married 30 years and he was completely undone about how to find a doctor, how to mail a letter, how to shop for groceries. I hope you and your ex maintain a good relationship. It keeps the blood pressure down.

  38. Hey Karen,

    I *love* your blog, it’s terrific. I’m in love with your dollar store findings.

    Was just wondering if it works with bamboo cutting boards as well. My husband got me a cutting board only recently, and it has some design on it. Would bleach run through it? Should I just wash and oil?

    Here is what he got me
    http://www.dedadesigns.com/shop/cutting-boards/fish/

    Thanks! <3 <3 <3 <3
    Patsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patsy. Thanks! I love writing my blog so it all works out. As for the bamboo cutting board (nice by the way!) you should be fine to use bleach on it. I just wouldn’t let it soak forever. Just wipe it over and let it set for a few seconds, then wipe it off. I don’t have any proof though since I’ve never done it myself. Why not flip the board over to the underside and try your cleaning experiments there? That’s what I’d do. ~ karen!

  39. Marie Johnson says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’ve used baking soda, salt, vinegar and lemon – mixture. Does an excellent job. This site
    http://www.woodcuttingboardsguide.com/
    offers good tips as well.

    My aunt uses hydrogen peroxide to clean the wooden cutting boards. Do you recommend it?

    Thanks
    Marie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marie – I’ve never used hydrogen peroxide on a cutting board before, but from a health point of view there’s no problem with it. It would definitely clean. The only thing I can see is the potential to bleach your cutting board over time but if you don’t mind that then I’d say go for it. ~ karen

      • Suzanne Herbruck says:

        I have used peroxide in lieu of bleach for years, as I’m a clutz, using bleach ends up with ruined clothes…
        Put a spray top on the peroxide bottle, wash the board with a soapy whatever, wipe off soap, spray with peroxide. If it foams, it’s killing more bacteria. If you use a mineral oil/bees wax combo, this also retards bacteria, as bacteria doesn’t grow in wax. I use my gigantic boos block for EVERYTHING. When in doubt, more soap, then peroxide, then Boos block bees wax/oil. The peroxide is easy peasy, as once it’s worked, wipe of with paper towel, the residue is basically water.

        Not necessary to get too anal if you only do all this after chicken or meat.

        A bad stain will come out if a cut lemon is left on it cut side down overnight.

  40. michael says:

    Good information but don’t leave water on the board too long it will raise the grain and coule cause problems.

    I have been making cutting boards for years. I use mineral oil to seal the board, then I also use a mineral oil beeswax minture that I make for people tokeep their boards looking nice.

    check out my couple pictures on my blog.
    Michael

    End Grain Cutting Boards

  41. Mel says:

    Helpful info but Could do without the excessive introduction. Cut the fluff and get to the meat

  42. Erica says:

    Hey, Karen! I come back this post often to deep clean my boos butcher block. It works great, and added bonus: it manicures too! My hands, cuticles, and nails look awesome after I do this treatment. I love multi-tasking. As always, thanks for your valuable info!

  43. pak ombak says:

    I tend not to listen to anyone who thinks a big MAC is “delicious”

  44. Warren McGoldrick. Providence, RI says:

    Found you by googling cleaning wood cutting board in Microwave. Seems you wouldn’t do it. My board has a big hollowed our indention for holding the turkey. It gets used once a year. It is great but probably a wedding present in 1971. There are multiple separations leaving tiny cracks where the glued wood has parted a bit. Assuming I do a good job with the bleach do you think I am properly cleaning my board for next year, or maybe next month..or should I use it as a nice hardwood addition to my fireplace wood pile and try to find a replacement. Wonder how long bacteria lives on wood.

    And, I do love your extraneous comments. Will sign up for blog.

  45. Rodger Ramjet says:

    I dont own a cutting board but I tried the mineral oil..yuk butt it sure worked on my impaction isuue !

  46. Karen says:

    Thanks Karen!

    My butcher block cutting board does not have legs and to keep it from sliding around too much I put a couple paper towels under it. Something got under it when a roommate was cooking and soaked into the paper towels. I didn’t notice right away and when I did, it was nasty!!

    I tried a couple of things, but the nasty just wouldn’t go away. It was a light gunky coat of stinky. This process worked beautifully. I left the salt & lemon on for awhile. The board started to smell like wood after that step with just a bit of nasty left. The baking soda did the trick. I gave it a quick bleach treatment and used oil I bought at IKEA made specifically for wood used in food preparation. It’s called Skyyd.

    The board is back to it’s good ole self again! Something I really didn’t think could be done.

    p.s. my plastic cutting board goes into the dishwasher with everything else after I use it. I don’t use it often because of the bacterial issue.

    • Karen says:

      That’s great! Thanks for letting me know. I recently got an entire butcher block counter, lol! So Give it another year or so and I’ll be dugunking a whole lotta butcher block. ~ karen!

  47. Neeta says:

    Karen-

    So I was just cleaning my cutting board with soap and water and I thought I was doing the right thing.
    But I know I am not when I noticed discoloration on the sides of the board (black film?) which I don’t know what it is and how to get off and there is a smell on the board and discoloration. I am going to try everything you said with vinegar on the top and back where I chop but bleach on the sides. I hope this works. If you have any other recommendation for the sides which are turning black, please let me know. Thank you.

    -Neeta

    • Karen says:

      Good luck Neeta! Don’t forget that sometimes wood just ages and that’s part of the beauty of it. So there will be some discolouration over time and that’s O.K. If the black is mold, then that’s not O.K., lol. Hope it works well for you! ~ karen

  48. Lindsey says:

    Hi Karen,

    Are you still responding to posts you made five years ago? Help! I have this stinky cutting board that has been sitting in my step-dad’s garage for 5 years that reeks of exhaust or possibly motor oil. He swears he never got anything on it, so it’s been soaking up smells out of the air, I suppose.

    Thus far I have bleached it, baking soda’d it and vinegared it. (I’ll be doing the mineral oil after the stink is removed.) Still stinks. It’s big and beautiful and I paid way too much money in excess baggage fees to bring it home with me. Two questions here:

    1- Can I get rid of the stink?
    2- Suppose it stinks forever… can I still use a motor oil scented cutting board or will I be ruining my health and meals?

  49. Exactly what my Dad’s been saying for decades. Wood is much better than glass or plastic. Reason? Very smooth surfaces get a ‘film’ of bacteria on them that is almost impossible to get rid of. Wood can be scrubbed much more easily. I clean mine with detergent and then some boiling water and never leave meat/chicken/fish on it. Clean straight away. Your ‘recipe’ sounds like a great way to revive a chopping board that’s been goodness knows where though!

    PS what would my Dad know? He was a butcher and smallgoods-maker in Germany for about 20 years. Did you know that they have to study (including food safety) for 6 years to be fully qualified?

    • karin sorensen says:

      ah yes, Germans leaving nothing to chance. How I miss it sometimes.

      Greetings from a fellow German.

      Karin

  50. The cigarette butt comment made me want to get out of bed and go smoke. I don’t know what that says about me.

  51. Lisa Dart says:

    So I’m on holidays and have now added cleaning my chopping board with backing soda and lemon to my list – just washed and waxed the floors, windows will happen when the rain stops; it has rained a lot with Cyclone Debbie – but at least we weren’t flooded and blown away (had over 240mm in one day last week in my suburb) like so many up North and South of here; lots of flooding. Back to the boards. I use wood for me – but plastic for the possum fruit (I’m sure they don’t mind).

    PS: What else is a girl going to do on her holidays but clean the house in preparation for winter hibernation. 🙂
    PPS: Every time they give a cyclone a “friendly” name she turns into a right b*tch. Honestly who names a cyclone Debbie.

  52. TucsonPatty says:

    I, too, love the fluff, and I, too, read every comment and love them. I am grateful that you give us all so much wonderful and free information! I am a vegetarian, and now I feel better about using my little thin plastic boards, especially since I have cheap and small knifes from Target! My ex-a**hole took the good knives and the beautiful thick block with feet and a cut-out to push the cut-up whatever onto a little scoop/paddle to transfer to wherever…now I use the thin small board that I’ve had for about 40 years. I’m happy about the whole thing. (Except for the nasty cheap knives I have now.) Thanks again, Karen!

  53. LEO J. MUZZIN says:

    Good Post! I have not used my bamboo board since carving the Christmas turkey on it for fear of residual bacteria. Now I can clean it and feel safe! I use olive oil instead of mineral oil.

  54. Nicole Sparks says:

    OK, I’m confused. I was seeing all these new commenters and thought, “Huh, look at all the folks who clearly don’t get Karen’s humour” and then I realized some of the comments are from 2011. Is this a repost? An edit? I read it because it showed up in my inbox like a new post. Super useful info, though!

    Is this how you’re supposed to clean wooden salad bowls too? I’ve always wondered.

  55. Suzanne says:

    I only use my wood board for produce. I use those thin plastic things for meat, or the plastic boards and my dishwasher soap has bleach in it. And yes my mom taught me about the mineral oil part in the late 60’s.

  56. This post helped me a lot. Good information. Thanks for sharing this post.

  57. Shelagh says:

    So, I have “Epicurean” brand cutting boards in various sizes that are supposedly made from compressed paper.

    I’ve always just tossed them in the dishwasher. They never smell but they have faded a bit. Should I be doing something else to clean them?

    I knew about that study determining wood better than plastic and I do have wood boards too but my arthritic hands prefer the lightness of the compressed paper.

    Thanks as always Karen. Love the fluff and most of the time even the other comments make me laugh! Never stop

  58. Katie C. says:

    I’m assuming all these steps can be taken on a butcher block counter top too?

    We don’t cut meat on it, but it has a few stains that I’d like to try to get rid of.

  59. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks Karen! Super good info and I thank you. I have a large heavy wooden one that so far has been used only for bread-scared to cut meat (shudder….). I use my plastic ones like crazy. Now I have to rethink it all! I read the research article-thanks for that too. I will be copying that for my files for the naysayers in the family. Thanks again!

  60. Sherri says:

    You’ve convinced me, Karen! After a long affair with a wooden cutting board in my youth I got rid of it because my sweetie used it as a surface for our cheap little electric espresso maker. Something went haywire with the electric cord and the espresso maker went up in flames on the cutting board. Sweetie wasn’t supervising the whole operation (I wasn’t home and he was in the shower) until he smelled burning wood. He streaked through the house in his birthday suit and carried the whole mess to the yard (wearing nothing but oven mitts) so he could put out the flames with the garden hose. Our perfect cutting board was scorched beyond recognition and had a very deep burn mark in a circular shape in the middle of it where the faulty appliance was sitting. We tried sanding it out, but ended up tossing it into the garbage. Your post convinced me, after years of using plastic boards, to give wood another try. I just completed ordering the one from the link you embedded in your blog. Of course, I’ll save today’s posting to make sure I don’t forget how to clean and condition it. Did anyone ever tell you that you’d make a good televangelist?

  61. Kathy says:

    That was an interesting link. Our gov. says use plastic boards, no research. They do research to find a way to get wood as safe as plastic, but wait for it, if you clean your board by hand the wood is way better. Plastic in the dishwasher is the only way to use plastic. Of course some people whine about how the study was done but children’s school projects come to same conclusion and the research is vindicated. Ain’t nuthin simple.

  62. Connie says:

    Hi Karen , I agree 100% with what you’ve said here!
    I luv my 2 wooden boards , can’t stand the glass ones at ALL. I do have 2 plastic ones and not the thin kind: 1 i use just for fruit , the other for vegetables but never thought to put them thru the dishwasher- will try that . The big wooden board is for meat only , the small one is my sandwich board.( it’s a european thing) And i clean and mineral oil them just like you do. They’ve lasted for years! Sometimes i olive oil my wooden spoons (i don’t use plastic or nylon utensils for cooking ) Just a thin smear to refresh them. They get used daily so i don’t think they have a chance to go rancid.
    btw: luv bariboo products too -have their salad bowl set . Do you know if they are still around? Do they still make them?

  63. Rosiland Ball says:

    How do you tell if it is an edge or end grain?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rosiland. An end grain board will *usually* look like it’s made up of a bunch of squares. An edge grain will look more like a series of long rectangles. You can see the grain in the edge grain as well. If you think of a 2×4 piece of wood, the edge grain is the 4 long sides of the board. The end grain of the 2×4 are the two cut ends of it. ~ karen!

  64. Heather Sykora says:

    Thank you for doing the detailed research and posting the link to the research!! So helpful. I have a built in butcher block I love!! Glad to have a reliable resource to take care of it.
    I use a thin wood resin board that is dishwasher safe for raw meat. I never use bleach as I am too much of a klutz and also I grew up in a house without bleach or a dishwasher and have never had a problem, so hot water and soap is good enough for me.

  65. Elaine says:

    Hi Karen – thanks so much for this information and oh, how well I remember Baribou products! I still have a few pieces. You’re probably familiar with a booth at the Thursday Summer market; he sells beautiful breadboards cut from apple trees. I moved here just two years ago and have bought seven or eight boards already as gifts for family and me. I bought two – just to “look nice” (don’t laugh!), to lean against (and hopefully hide) an ugly backsplash! I’ve hesitated using them, except for fancy wine/cheese nights, as I wasn’t sure of their care but I trust your “smarts”. The seller recommended walnut oil but I previously had read about rancidity so bought food grade mineral oil. Maybe I’ll actually use my stylish boards now and not just look at them!

  66. SusanR says:

    I’ve used your method of cleaning my cutting board that you outlined in a post about making a combination of mineral oil and wax to treat the wood after cleaning. At least, I think that was you. It was some time ago.

    I’ve bought up several quite large glass cutting boards at thrift stores…maybe 2′ x 18″. I use them, and the clear plastic cutting sheets, for a surface on which to do messy crafts. I flip over the glass cutting board, so it’s smooth side up. A wipe with a wet cloth at the end of a crafting/art session, and they’re good to go for the next time. I can use a portion of the board, or one of the plastic cutting boards, as palette paper, to mix paints on, and then load a rubber roller or brush.

    So while the glass might not be good for food and knives, it’s good for something, as are the lighter-weight clear “cutting boards” from the dollar store. They both come in handy for arts and crafts.

    And I no longer worry about my wood cutting board. It’s nice and clean, gets cleaned and oiled regularly, and I have you to thank for that.

    • Karen says:

      Yup that’s my recipe with beeswax and mineral oil. Courtesy of Brenda Watts of Cattails Studio. It’s for conditioning wood that’s prone to drying out. 🙂 ~ karen!

  67. tracie berry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love your wood cutting board, and all the great info on cleaning any type of board. Who knew there was so much to learn on this subject? I will need to scroll back up and click on the cutting board link now, as I was much too entertained by the “fluff” to get to it sooner…

  68. Etta says:

    I work in a restaurant. When the health inspector came by ( we got a 98.5 by the way …yay for us ) I asked her about using hydrogen peroxide at home …bleach can be such a hassle…she said it’s fine. Use it on my counter and my maple island where I cut and chop , roll pies and cookies, everything but meat/chicken/fish. Works great! And if you spray it on your plastic meat board it bubbles and growths as it kills the nasty germs…very gross

  69. Jen says:

    Do you have a favourite wood you like to Haagen for your cutting boards?

  70. Great post! I love your blog, Karen. Thanks for all the laughs!
    Back to the board … how do you tell if it’s end grain or edge grain? I’m not sure I would be able to spot a great one at a garage sale. I would hate to get fooled by edge-grain. But I would even more hate to pass up a potentially gorgeous one needing just a bit of elbow grease.
    Also, if a board is really grungy, I have heard you can just have it sanded down, understanding that you lose the surface patina, but still, some boards are couple inches thick, so doing it once should not shorten the board’s life much, right?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peggy! An end grain board will *usually* look like it’s made up of a bunch of squares. An edge grain will look more like a series of long rectangles. You can see the grain in the edge grain as well. If you think of a 2×4 piece of wood, or a floor board, the edge grain is the 4 long sides of the board. The end grain of the 2×4 or floor boards would be the two cut ends of it. ~ karen!

      • Peggy M says:

        That’s helpful, Karen. I’ll have to pay attention and ask questions so I train my eye to differentiate.
        Thanks!

  71. Jody says:

    Great tips. Would you sand the top if it has gouges in it from too much use. For instance use your new fancy palm sander from Lee Valley? Then just finish up with mineral oil?

  72. Susan says:

    A footed Bariboo cutting board laying in the dirt at a garage sale… Oh Karen! That’s the stuff of dreams. What a treasure. I love it when good things happen to good people. Also really loving your answers to the trolls.

  73. Benjamin says:

    Next up: a few tips on how to clean your butcher.

  74. Ann Smith says:

    If your board is really, really bad you can always get out your Festool sander and really make it look like new. Start with 80 grit and finish up with 120 or 150. My cutting board gets a lot of use, and I do this every couple of years.

  75. Hannah says:

    I just use a leftover floor tile as a cutting board. Because I’m cheap. And lazy.

  76. Diana says:

    These are very helpful tips for cleaning cutting boards. I am following your tips from a long time and my wooden cutting board still looks like new. Thanks for sharing.

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