Wooden cutting boards are essential to many kitchens, providing you with a safe, uncluttered, and sanitary surface on which to chop up fresh food. Even though cutting boards are sturdy enough to last many decades, you need to season (condition) the wood periodically to ensure such longevity. First wash, deodorize, and sanitize your cutting board, then season it by rubbing a largish amount of mineral oil into the wooden surface. Finally, let the oil penetrate into the wood for several hours before removing the excess oil and using the board again. With regular maintenance, your wooden cutting board can be used for many years.

Part 1
Part 1 of 2:

Cleaning and Sanitizing the Board

  1. Place the wooden board in an empty sink.[1] Soap up a sponge or dishcloth with gentle dish detergent and thoroughly rub the entire surface, edges and handle of the board until it is ultra clean. Rub away any obvious food particles, focusing especially on any crevices in the wood. Lastly, rinse away the soap with copious amounts of warm water and pat dry.[2]
    • Never put your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher, as this can cause the wood to warp and crack. Instead, set your cutting board aside to wash by hand.
  2. Keep the cutting board in a place where it can receive adequate air circulation on all surfaces, particularly the flats. Try to avoid using the board until it’s dry to the touch.[3]
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  3. Pour a small amount of white vinegar into a spray bottle or purchase a spray bottle of sanitizer for hard surfaces. Spray the surfaces moderately, ensuring that all surfaces are wetted. Wait 3-5 minutes for the vinegar to perform its actions, then rinse off the board with cool running water.[4] For the commercial sanitizer, follow the directions on the bottle.
    • You might need to do this fairly often if you have an older, more worn out cutting board.
    • Commercial sanitizers can be purchased at supermarkets, large retailers, or at home improvement stores.
    • If you aren’t a fan of vinegar, try soaking the tip of a paper towel in hydrogen peroxide and blotting the surface of the board.[5]
  4. 4
    Let the board air-dry before placing it back in storage. Set the board out on a towel on your countertop or table. Leave it there for 2 to 3 hours to ensure it's fully dry before you put it away in your kitchen.[6]
    • Storing a wet cutting board can lead to mold or mildew.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 2:

Applying Oil to the Surface

  1. Schedule a time to condition your cutting board if you use it often. While the seasoning process itself isn’t that time-consuming, you need to set aside several hours so the board can dry. If you’re an avid chef, consider setting aside time weekly to oil and dry your wooden cutting boards.[7]
    • If you only use your cutting boards once or twice per year, you don’t need to worry about seasoning them that frequently.
    • If you notice water soaking into the wood, it’s time to season it.[8]
  2. Set your board somewhere in your kitchen, like a countertop or table. Make sure that the item is already washed and dried, as you don’t want to season a dirty surface.[9]
    • You can also keep your board in a large container, like a pot lid holder. This can make it easier to control the oil.[10]
  3. Take a bottle of kitchen-grade mineral oil and pour out a small pool of liquid onto the wooden surface. Feel free to drizzle the oil onto the board, or pour it all in one place. Don’t worry about using too much—you can always wipe away the excess oil later.[11]
    • Coconut oil is also a great option, since it contains a lot of saturated fat.[12]
    • Don’t use vegetable or olive oils to condition your board. After they soak in, they’ll become rancid and make the cutting board smell terrible.
    • While walnut and almond oils are possible alternatives, they shouldn’t be used if a member of your household has a nut allergy.
  4. Take a clean dish towel and rub the mineral oil into the wood. Use circular, sweeping motions as you go. Massage the oil into the front and back of the board, as well as the edges and handles.[13]
    • Use the same dish towel when you season your cutting board in the future.
    • Don’t worry about wiping off any excess oil from the top of the board, as you can do this later.
  5. Set the wooden board on a thin edge, leaning it against a hard surface, if necessary. Wait at least 3 hours before checking on the cutting board again, so the mineral oil has enough time to soak in and condition the wood.[14]
    • You can wait up to 6 hours before checking on the cutting board.
    • If you have a pot lid holder or a similar item, you can prop the board up vertically in the container.
  6. Use the same dish towel to remove any mineral oil that failed to absorb into the wood. Once you’ve let the cutting board dry overnight, feel free to store the item in its usual spot.[15]
    • Make a note of the date you season the board, so you can start conditioning it on a regular basis.
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What's the difference between wood and plastic cutting boards?
    Julien Miller
    Julien Miller
    Personal Chef
    Julien Miller is a Personal Chef and the Owner of Cooking with Julien based in Reno, Nevada. Chef Julien specializes in Cajun and Creole cuisines and is also known for cooking delicious hibachi and Southeast Asian dishes. He offers private event catering, meal preparation services, and his famous Louisiana Crawfish Boils. Julien received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology from Portland State University.
    Julien Miller
    Personal Chef
    Expert Answer
    The distinction between wooden and plastic cutting boards lies in their maintenance and susceptibility to bacterial growth. I prefer plastic cutting boards over wooden ones, as I am cautious about the potential for bacteria to penetrate the cracks in the wood, particularly when cutting raw meat. Wooden cutting boards, such as those made from bamboo, require careful attention to hygiene. When dealing with raw meat on a wooden surface, thorough cleaning is essential to prevent the risk of foodborne illnesses. Unlike plastic, wood is porous, allowing bacteria to seep into its crevices. In summary, while wooden cutting boards like bamboo can be aesthetically pleasing, they demand more meticulous care to avoid bacterial contamination, and regular oiling and cleaning are essential steps to ensure their longevity.
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Things You’ll Need

Cleaning and Deodorizing the Board

  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Paper towel (optional)

Applying Oil to the Surface

  • Mineral oil
  • Coconut oil (optional)
  • Dish towel

Expert Interview

Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about cooking, check out our in-depth interview with Julien Miller.

About This Article

Julien Miller
Co-authored by:
Personal Chef
This article was co-authored by Julien Miller and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman. Julien Miller is a Personal Chef and the Owner of Cooking with Julien based in Reno, Nevada. Chef Julien specializes in Cajun and Creole cuisines and is also known for cooking delicious hibachi and Southeast Asian dishes. He offers private event catering, meal preparation services, and his famous Louisiana Crawfish Boils. Julien received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology from Portland State University. This article has been viewed 39,323 times.
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Co-authors: 7
Updated: January 12, 2024
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