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Removing Odors from Cutting Boards

Updated on May 1, 2012

Types of Boards

There are various types of cutting boards. Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Each are more or less susceptible to harboring odors.

Wood Boards


Wood boards are relatively inexpensive. Thus, these boards are the most commonly used in households. They are durable and small scoring marks can close over time. Would also has a slight natural antiseptic quality.


Wood boards are absorbent. The natural pore-like quality of wood allows absorption of dirt and water. These boards can also warp and degrade over time.Can easily slip when being used. Cannot tolerate the use of chemical means of disinfection.

Plastic Boards


Plastic boards are inexpensive much like wood boards. these boards are light weight and allow for easy storage. Plastic boards can come in various colors. This allows users to designate certain boards to certain food types. (For example, a red board can be for meats and a green board can be for vegetables) Plastic is nonporous. They can be washed and disinfected in means that wood cannot.


The surface of these boards can damage knives.The pliability of plastic allows knives to carve grooves and scores into the board. These grooves can harbor mildew and bacteria.Can easily slip when being used.

Rubber and Silicone


Less prone to slippage when being used. Exhibits the same self healing properties of wood. Can be diseffected and clean by using chemical means.Cause very little damage to knife blades.


These boards are very expensive compared to wood and plastic boards. Rubber boards are heavier compared to plastic boards.

Glass, Marble and Steal


These boards are very easy to clean. These non porous surfaces inhibit the growth of mildew and bacteria.


Although ascetically pleasing these boards are expensive and ineffective. These boards can chip and break when being use for chopping purposes. Knives are quickly and easily dulled and broken. These boards also slide and slip when being used without a griping mat underneath.


As mentioned previously, each board has a potential to harbor bacteria and mold. Porous materials can hold water like a sponge. The porous surfaces along with scoring makes is one of the reasons for off putting odors and flavor transfer. These boards can grow harmful, disgusting and smelly bacteria. Also, some boards can leech the flavor, aroma and color from foods. Foods such as garlic, onions and fish can transfer their flavor and scent to the board. the scent and favor can then be transferred to other foods. Beets and fresh green herbs can stain the board and then stain the food.


Proper cleaning and disinfection is extremely important. But, maintenance is equally as important.Wood boards can warp and crack if not properly maintained. Deep scores in the board can hold mildew and bacteria that aids in producing a displeasing smell in the board.

A board should be wiped with food grade mineral oil, poppyseed oil or linseed 4 times a year to aid in preservation. *DO NOT use vegetable or olive oil to preserve your board as these oils can go rancid and cause more of an odor and off taste. Also It is a good practice to once a year resurface the board using a scraper or plane.


Proper cleaning and maintenance can eliminate food contamination. There are several methods that can be used.

Method 1

  • Liberally sprinkle salt over the board
  • Cut a lemon in half
  • Use the exposed surface of the lemon to "scrub" the salt covered board
  • Wipe or rinse clean
  • Allow to dry

Method 2

  • Liberally sprinkle salt over the board
  • Rub the surface with a damp cloth
  • Wipe clean
  • Allow to dry

Method 3

  • Make a paste of baking soda and warm water
  • Apply paste to board
  • Rub suface with a damp cloth
  • Wipe clean
  • Allow board to dry

Method 4

  • Cut lemon in half
  • Rub lemon on the surface of the board.
  • Allow board to dry thoroughly in direct sunlight

Method 5

  • Wipe board with distilled white vinegar
  • Allow to dry

Method 6

  • Sprinkle board with baking soda
  • Spray board with distilled white vinegar
  • Allow to foam for 10-15 mins
  • Wipe clean
  • Allow to dry

Method 6 (for no porous surfaces)

  • Get 1 gallon of warm water
  • Add 1 tablespoon of bleach
  • Soak board in solution
  • Rise thoroughly
  • Allow to dry

Method 7 (for no porous surfaces)

  • Create solution of water and peroxide
  • Soak board
  • Rise thoroughly
  • Allow to dry

Method 8

  • Make a solution of warm soapy water
  • Use a stiff scrub brush
  • Scrub surface to remove any particles.
  • Wipe or rinse clean
  • Dry completely


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