The Cleaning Lady

Removing stubborn food odors from a wooden cutting board


I love your show but I have a question; I have a wooden cutting board and it smells like onions. I have tried to clean it hundreds of times and the smell won’t come out. Help!

Thank you,


Dear Erma:

Wooden cutting boards are great but tricky to clean because you can’t put them in the dishwasher. Sometimes, despite regularly cleaning with hot soapy water, stubborn food odors can linger, and even impart their flavor to whatever you are cutting (onion-flavored apples? Yuck). I would suggest getting a plastic or acrylic dishwasher-safe cutting board for onions, garlic, etc., and another one for meat too while you are at it.

One method to try to remove the onion odor from your wooden board is the following:

1. Scrub the board really well with a green Scotch-brite scrubber, dish soap and hot running water (as hot as you can stand). Let sit 10 minutes or so.

2. Scrub again under running water to completely remove the soap.

3. Then, scrub again with a generous amount of baking soda (dump it all over the board) to form a heavy paste. Let sit until dry. Scrub off the soda and rinse with hot water.

4. Saturate the entire board with undiluted white vinegar. Let dry completely.

7 Responses to “Removing stubborn food odors from a wooden cutting board”

  1. Ann Brown says:

    I scrub mine with a vegie brush Hot water and baking soda and let it sit a few minutes. It seems to work well. The Apples don’t taste like onions and garlic.


  2. TRACY says:


  3. bernard thompson says:

    foods that can attrack people like a magic health wise good because some people in life can not eat all foods because they like it because the way it looks will be a asset to cooks

  4. Anita says:

    And another important clue is to clean the board thoroughly, dry and wipe it with unused oil – veg or olive oil – and put in the sun to dry. Will keep it together much longer.

  5. Anita says:

    Vineger will absorb an odor. Also, when chopping onions, open a matchbook, place the tip in your mouth and hold it there while you peel. Works! No onion vapors will get into your eyes.

  6. jessica martinez says:

    i use salt and lime sprinkle salt and scrub with lime it kill bacteris and odors…. learnedc it from my mother-in-law in mexico….

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