Durability and reliability are two of the main reasons home chefs love wood cutting & serving boards. They’re:

The largest misunderstanding is that they’re hard to clean and maintain – and aren’t dishwasher safe (😱). It’s not that hard at all to learn how to clean a wood board, and make it last your lifetime with these easy steps.

“Hardwoods, like maple, are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria – which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning”

says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State.

What you will need in advance

• Wooden cutting/serving board
• Clean, microfibre towel (or a soft alternative. Paper towels are okay)
• Vegetable oil, or other food-grade oil
• Half a lemon (optional – for cleaning funky smells)
• Course salt (optional – for cleaning funky smells)


Clean your board daily by using gentle dish soap, and a cloth.

1. Prepare the board: Firstly, using a gentle dish soap, clean the wood by using a lukewarm damp cloth, be sure to clean both sides so that you avoid warping. Secondly, to remove any strange smells (like garlic) start by scrubbing half a lemon into the board, followed by a generous sprinkle of salt. Redo the scrub again with lemon (tip: add droplets of water if lemon isn’t juicy enough). Lastly, give it a scrape down, another gentle wash and set it on its side to dry overnight.

2. Apply the oil: Using a clean microfibre towel, apply the oil in an even layer over the wood, massaging it gently in and applying to all sides.

3. Give it time to soak in:Leave the oil to soak in, overnight if possible, or for at least a few hours so that it can penetrate the wood and rehydrate it.

4. Remove the excess: Use another dry, clean cloth or paper towel, and buff off any remaining oil so that the board does not feel damp or sticky.

Helpful tips

• Avoid direct exposure to heat or sunlight
• Hand wash with mild detergent (avoid the dishwasher)
• Do not immerse in water
• Dry on its side
• Periodically grease with a small amount of vegetable or olive oil, rubbing gently with a soft cloth.

When it’s time to replace your trusty board

There comes a time when scrubbing and sanitising won’t be enough. This usually happens when your board has accumulated a lot of deep grooves from repeated use, therefore trapping more moisture as a place for bacteria to proliferate.

“The more grooves it has, and the bigger they are, the more area is available for trapping moisture and giving bacteria a place to proliferate,” Chapman says.