How to Maintain a Clean Cutting Board

How to Clean Cutting Boards Used for Meat

woman cutting steaks on cutting board
After prepping meat on your cutting board, you've got to sanitize it.
Carlos Spottonro/Getty Images

Salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria can be found on poorly cleaned cutting boards that have served as prep areas for raw meat. To minimize your family's risk of exposure to these kinds of contaminants, consider using two cutting boards in your household -- one for fruits and vegetables and another for meat.

A chopping block that comes into contact with only veggies and fruit doesn't need to be sanitized after every use. However, you should sanitize it each time you work with animal proteins of any kind, including fish, poultry and beef.


Wooden cutting boards should be oiled weekly to seal the grain against bacteria. Mineral oil works great for this. Some other kinds of oil will do the job, but never use vegetable or cooking oil to season a wooden cutting board; these types spoil the wood and will produce a rancid smell. Remember to replace boards that are severely scratched or grooved from wear: It's too easy for bacteria to get caught in the cracks.

If you've been working with particularly pungent foods like garlic, onions or fish, eliminate their odors trapped in the cutting board by wiping a fresh lemon wedge on the surface area after you've cleaned and disinfected it.

Mini chunks of meat can fall off of the cutting block, and raw meat juices can splatter, leaving no visible trace. Even if you always use a disinfected cutting board, it's a good habit to wipe down the counter under and around the cooking area with hot, soapy water after you're done. All-purpose cleaner that's suitable to your type of countertop works fine, too.

Clean Cutting Board FAQ

What is the best way to clean a wooden cutting board?
First, clean the cutting board by hand with hot water and soap. Then mix one tablespoon of bleach per one gallon of water and apply it to the board by wiping it on with a clean cloth. Let the cutting board sit like this for a few minutes, then rinse and dry it.
How do you clean a plastic cutting board?
Dishwashers do a great job of cleaning and sanitizing plastic cutting boards. Alternatively, follow the steps for cleaning and sanitizing a wooden cutting board (which can never go in the dishwasher).
How often should you sanitize a cutting board?
Technically you should sanitize a cutting board every time you use it. With vegetables, you may be able to get away with sanitizing it once a week, but boards that have had meat on them need to be sanitized after every use.
How do you remove stains from a wooden cutting board?
Half a lemon and some baking soda can be used to get stains out of a wooden cutting board. Simply run the board under some water to get it wet, then generously sprinkle baking soda over the stains. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the board with half a lemon, being sure to squeeze out the acidic juice as you do this. Then wash and dry the board as usual.
How do you clean a wooden cutting board after raw meat?
It's better to use a plastic cutting board for meat unless you're actually committed to sealing the grain with mineral oil to block bacteria every week. However, if you find yourself with a meat-contaminated wooden board, clean it in hot, soapy water, then sanitize it using a bleach and water mixture on the board. Let it sit for a few minutes to kill bacteria, then rinse and fully dry the board before storing it.

Related Articles


  • 14 Green Kitchen Cleaning Tips. TLC Home. (Dec. 1, 2010).
  • The American Cleaning Institute. "Home Safety Myth Busters." 2010. (Nov. 21, 2010).
  • Food Safety Dictionary. (Dec. 1, 2010).
  • Keenan, Susan M. "DIY: How to Clean, Remove Stain, Sanitize and Store Your Cutting Board." (Nov. 21, 2010).
  • Kitchen Cleaning Tips. TLC Home. (Dec. 1, 2010).
  • Russell, Ellen. "Cleaners in Your Kitchen Cabinets: Lemon Juice, Salt and More." (Nov. 21, 2010).
  • Stradley, Linda. "Cutting Boards, Chopping Blocks, Butcher Blocks." What's Cooking America. 2010. (Nov. 21, 2010).