My feed

How to clean a wooden chopping board, plus tips for keeping it pristine

Worried your chopping board isn’t getting a good clean? Here’s how to make sure you keep it hygienic and looking its best for longer.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Aug 15, 2023

Woman using wooden chopping board

Your trusty chopping board will see plenty of action in the kitchen. From slicing up fresh bread to chopping vegetables and even preparing meat, it can be used for plenty of cooking tasks, but do you know how to clean a wooden chopping board to make sure it gets a good scrub that keeps it germ-free?

Unlike a plastic board, you can’t chuck it in the dishwasher as the wood can become warped, so if you want to properly clean wooden chopping boards, it does require a bit more of your time and effort. 

To help make life easier for you in the kitchen, we've compiled this handy guide with plenty of tricks and advice on how to properly care for and maintain your board.

Plus, for more kitchen advice and must-have products rated by Mumsnetters, we also have comprehensive guides to the best frying pans and woks.

Are wooden chopping boards hygienic?

Vegetables on a chopping board

There are two main types of materials used for chopping boards, wood and plastic. Plastic is easier to keep clean as it can simply be popped in a dishwasher. However, plastic isn't as robust as wood, and bacteria can get trapped in the spots where damage has occurred as you chop and dice. These cuts are usually caused by your knives against the board, particularly if they've been freshly treated with the best knife sharpener.

Wooden boards are also prone to this damage, and can harbour germs in the cracks on their surface. That said, if you clean and look after it properly, a wooden board will be a hygienic choice for all your cutting needs, plus they're more durable and arguably more stylish than plastic alternatives. The only downside is that they do take more effort to maintain than a plastic board as they will need to be hand washed.

If you want to prevent cross-contamination, use a separate plastic board for chopping raw meat and fish as it can be cleaned more easily by hand or in the dishwasher, and use a wooden board for tackling bread, vegetables and fruit.

Related: The best can openers for tackling tricky tins

Can a wooden chopping board go in the dishwasher?

Unfortunately, a wooden chopping board cannot be put in the dishwasher alongside your saucepans – even the mildest wash can damage the wood, which can allow bacteria to build up. Instead, wash your wooden chopping board by hand, but do not soak it in water for extended periods because that can also cause it to crack.

How often should I clean a wooden chopping board?

Chopping board with peppers on it

Make sure to wash your chopping board with washing up liquid, warm water and a soft sponge after every use to prevent a build-up of food and bacteria.

Every two to four weeks, you need to give it a more thorough clean to properly disinfect the board, and oil it to help keep it pristine.

How to clean a wooden chopping board using washing up liquid

To help keep your wooden chopping board in good condition, use water and washing up liquid to clean it after every use. This will remove any leftover food and keep it germ-free for the next time you need it:

  1. Rinse the chopping board well. 

  2. Using a generous amount of washing up liquid, wash the board down with a soft sponge. Use a circular motion, and make sure you cover every inch of the board, so it gets a good, thorough clean.

  3. Thoroughly rinse the washing up suds off the board.

  4. After rinsing, dry off as much moisture as you can from the board with a tea towel, before leaving it on a drying rack for a few hours. When it's all dry, it's ready to be stashed away in your cupboards again alongside your baking trays and cake tins.

How to clean a wooden chopping board using vinegar

A favourite household ingredient for providing an alternative to chemical cleaning products, white vinegar is often recommended by cleaning experts. It works to clean and disinfect your cutting board, although it will leave quite a potent smell:

  1. Mix four parts water with one part vinegar.

  2. Soak the chopping board in the vinegar solution for up to five minutes.

  3. Wipe and rinse the board thoroughly.

  4. Dry with a tea towel and then leave to air dry.

Related: The best kitchen scales for accuracy and precision

How to clean a wooden chopping board using lemons


If your board is stained or starting to smell, cleaning with lemons can help to remove any strong odours and keep it looking pristine. Lemon is a natural disinfectant so will help to remove any germs and using it with salt or bicarbonate of soda works as a natural abrasive.

  1. Wipe the board down with water and dry. 

  2. Chop a lemon in half and add sea salt from your salt and pepper grinder onto the board.

  3. Place the lemon flat side down on your chopping board (so the citrus juices are touching the board, rather than the side with the peel). Move the lemon across the board in a circular motion, covering every inch to give it a good clean. Use the other half if necessary.

  4. Once you’ve done this, leave the board for around five to ten minutes to allow the lemon to get to work. Then, rinse well and pat away excess moisture with a tea towel. Leave to air dry.

Related: The best cutlery sets according to Mumsnetters

How to clean a wooden chopping board using bleach

As you will probably use your wooden chopping board for all sorts of kitchen tasks, you may want to thoroughly disinfect it from time to time. One way of doing this is to clean it with bleach, which will effectively get rid of any bacteria that may be left behind from your chopping.

  1. Wash the board as you usually would with washing up liquid, warm water and a sponge.

  2. Mix one tbsp bleach with around three litres of warm water.

  3. Either spray the mixture onto the board's surface or soak the board in the mixture. Leave it for no more than five minutes.

  4. Thoroughly wash away the mixture with soap and water, giving the board a good clean to make sure the solution is all gone.

  5. Pat down the board with a tea towel, and leave it to finish drying.

How to clean mould off a wooden chopping board

Wooden chopping board

Unfortunately, all that slicing and dicing can cause mould to build up on your wooden chopping board. This can happen if it is not properly dried before storing. Not only can it be a health hazard but it will ruin the appearance of your board. 

If you don’t want to throw it away, you can first clean the board with bleach to try to remove the mould. If it won’t budge, you can sand down the board to remove the mould areas, but make sure to sand it deep enough to remove all the mould as it may return – however, we'd recommend chucking the board away and investing in a new one by that point to be on the safe side.

Related: Discover the best cast iron skillets and pans

How to oil your board

When you regularly use and wash your wooden chopping board, it can dry out, so to help it last longer and prevent damage, experts advise to oil and wax it. This helps to protect the board from moisture to keep it clean and looking its best for longer.

  • Using kitchen roll, apply a food-safe mineral oil to the board. 

  • Rub it in to make sure it covers the whole board.

  • Leave it overnight. 

  • Give the board a wipe down with some kitchen roll. 

  • Finish by rubbing a food-safe beeswax across your board. 

About the author

Gemma Wilcock is a freelance writer and copywriter. She grew up in the North-East of England but has lived in and around London for almost 20 years now. At Mumsnet, she creates content providing useful parenting advice, information and top products to make life easier – as a mother of two children herself, Gemma knows how important it is to get the right advice.

Read next: The best roasting tins for delicious Sunday lunches