How to Remove Onion Smell from Cutting Board

From slicing produce to meats, your cutting board likely experiences a lot of action. But each piece of food can leave its smell on the board, which can be an issue, especially when dealing with onions. So, we’re all wondering the same thing: how to remove onion smell from cutting board?

If ignored, the onion smell will stick for a long time—or even permanently! Fortunately, there are numerous ways to remove these odors without damaging your board. See which one works best for your board below.

How to Remove Onion Smell from Cutting Board – 6 Methods to Try!

The onion smell will only worsen if you leave the pungent odor on your cutting board. So to avoid onion-flavored strawberries, try these methods to remove the onion smells for good:

🧅 Baking Soda + Salt Combo 

how to remove onion smell from cutting board - baking soda and salt on the table

Combining common kitchen ingredients salt and baking soda can eliminate onion smells on a cutting board, no matter how strong.

These combat the sulfuric chemicals in onions, leaving you with a clean and great-smelling board. 

(Note: You can use salt or baking soda alone, but it’s more effective to use the two in tandem. Either way, this method should eliminate the onion smell on your cutting board without hassle.)

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Spread it. Sprinkle one cup of coarse salt and baking soda onto your cutting board. You can use your fingers or a rag to spread the mixture on the kitchen tool. 
  2. Let it sit. Allow the mixture to sit on your cutting board’s surface for at least 4 minutes. 
  3. Shake it. After the allotted time, remove the salt and baking soda mixture from your cutting board. 
  4. Wipe it. Using a clean, soaked rag, wipe your cutting board clean. 
  5. Dry it. When the board is free from salt and baking soda residue, wipe it dry using a clean rag. 
  6. Add the finishing touches. Pour three tablespoons of mineral oil into a clean rag and rub it on your cutting board. Leave it be until the mineral oil dries, and your board should smell good as new!

🧅 Lemon

Lemon is an all-around odor remover that most homeowners find in their kitchens. After all, the citric acid present in its juices neutralizes most pungent odors. And yes, this includes onions!

All you must do is scrub a halved lemon directly on the affected surface on your cutting board. After the onion smell lessens, rinse the board with warm, plain water. And this should be enough to remove the odor. 

If it’s not enough, you can add some salt with the lemon. Doing so boosts its scrubbing power and deodorizing properties. Moreover, this can lighten stained cutting boards! Either way, using lemon is an efficient and easy method in removing smells on cutting boards regardless of material. 

🧅 Bleach Solution

If you’re dealing with an onion smell that’s been on your board for a while, you’ll need something more robust. And this is where bleach comes in. Although it can be challenging to use, it can produce desired results when done correctly. 

So unless you’re bleach-averse, this is an excellent alternative if you’re dealing with a persistent and pungent odor. However, never use pure bleach alone on the board as it can cause more harm than good. 

I suggest using a bleach solution made of a teaspoon of the chemical and two quarts of plain water. It should be safe enough for both wooden and plastic cutting boards. And like the other methods, you can simply scrub a rag soaked with the solution to remove the onion smell. 

But if scrubbing doesn’t cut it, you can soak your cutting board on the solution. However, if you’re using a wooden board, skip this step as it can get damaged. Either way, always remember to rinse the board with plain water and dry it off before using it again. 

🧅 Vinegar

If bleach isn’t your thing, I suggest using vinegar—the milder version of bleach. However, not any vinegar will cut it. You’ll need full-strength and pure, undiluted white vinegar. After all, it’s the only variation strong enough to eliminate pungent onion smells. 

But deodorizing aside, vinegar can also disinfect your board. And what’s more, you can use it on both wooden and plastic cutting boards. So it’s a win-win method for homeowners of all kinds. 

Here’s how you can do this method at home:

  1. Sprinkle and spritz. Pour and spread a little bit of baking soda on the board. After, spritz some white vinegar on top of the baking soda. 
  2. Let it sizzle. Let the baking soda and vinegar mixture bubble and foam for at least five minutes on your cutting board.
  3. Rinse. After the sizzle dies out, rinse the board with plain, warm water. It’s best to wash the board until the vinegar smell disappears.
  4. Dry well. Using a clean and dry rag, pat the cutting board dry. 

🧅 Baking Soda Paste

how to remove onion smell from cutting board - spilt baking soda on the table

This method is best for stained and smelly boards—but far from infested. And by infested, I mean filled with bacteria, which is the case for most cutting boards. Anyway, all you must do is make a paste of salt, water, and baking soda. 

It does wonders to all kinds of cutting boards, removing onion smells no matter how intense. I suggest using equal parts of the ingredients mentioned for the best results. And one to two teaspoons of each component should suffice. 

But regardless of your measurements, the procedures stay the same: scrub the cutting board with the paste. Either way, let the paste sit on the board for at least 10 minutes before you rinse and dry it off.

🧅 Hydrogen Peroxide

Another great bleach alternative is hydrogen peroxide. And not only does this get rid of that smelly onion odor, but it also kills lurking bacteria. However, for the best results, use hydrogen peroxide, that’s at least 3%. That’s because this range is potent enough to kill bacteria on a cutting board. 

Applying this to your cutting board is similar to the bleach method. All you must do is drench the rag in the solution and scrub the board. And as usual, wash and dry the kitchen tool thoroughly.

However, this is more dangerous to handle. That’s why always handle the chemical with caution. And don’t forget to wear gloves!

Getting Rid of that Onion Smell: Additional Board Care Tips

Besides learning how to remove onion smell from cutting board, here are proven techniques to keep your cutting board in the best condition possible:

  • Never submerge your cutting board in the water. Doing this can cause cutting boards, especially wooden ones, to expand. And this, in turn, can warp the entire shape of the kitchen tool. Not to mention, a soaked cutting board can develop mold and mildew regardless of its material. 
  • Dry cutting boards immediately. When washing cutting boards, you must dry them immediately! And this applies to all materials as all cutting boards can develop warping and mold. 
  • Avoid washing cutting boards in the dishwasher. The heat from the dishwasher can split or warp your board. And this is especially true for plastic cutting boards. So, always wash by hand if possible.
  • Invest in quality board oil. If you’re using a wooden cutting board, I recommend oiling it with board oil. It helps condition the wood, prolonging its lifespan. However, remember that not all oils are suitable for cutting boards. After all, oils like corn and olive oil can damage your board instead. Anyway, you just need to know which oil to use on your cutting board
  • Season your cutting board. Like cast iron skillets, seasoning a cutting board is crucial before using it. Doing this makes your board more resistant to moisture, extending its lifespan. Moreover, seasoning your board can keep it adequately lubricated to avoid warping. 
  • Always wash your cutting boards immediately. It prevents leftover food residue, liquids, and odors from seeping into the board. 
  • Don’t forget to sanitize your board. I suggest using a water and vinegar solution as it sanitizes your board without damaging it. Not to mention, it’s mild and safe to use at home.

Choosing a Cutting Board – Which is the Best One for You?

Like when choosing the best sink for your kitchen, the material also matters when it comes to board quality. So, see which cutting board suits you best below to ensure you’ll have an easier time dealing with onion smells. 

For a better insight, here are the types of cutting boards, their benefits—and downsides:

  • Wood. Among the most well-known materials used for cutting boards is wood. It can last you for years to withstand heavy use without issue. The only problem is that wooden cutting boards require the most care and attention. After all, when left uncleaned, they become a hotbed for bacteria!
  • Plastic. A practical and affordable material for cutting boards is plastic. These are easier to clean and can last you for a while. But plastic cutting boards are less durable and can become a source of bacteria. 
  • Bamboo. If you’re looking to reduce your footprint, bamboo cutting boards are your best bet. They’re durable, clean, and most importantly, environmentally friendly. However, since bamboo is so tough, it can dull your knives. Luckily, sharpening a knife is easy to do, even for beginners!
  • Glass. Although these cutting boards look the best, they aren’t practical. After all, they’re fragile, slippery, and did I mention fragile?

Regardless of the kind of cutting board you pick, you’ll need to consider how easy it is to clean and maintain. After all, these factors determine how difficult it will be for you to deal with onion smells on your board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is disinfecting my cutting board safe?

A: As long as you use non-toxic ingredients, disinfecting a cutting board is pretty safe. However, I suggest sanitizing the tool using a dilute chlorine and bleach solution. Not only is this cleaning solution easy to make, but it’s also relatively safe to use as a disinfectant on cutting boards. Either way, remember to rinse the board well with plain, warm water.

Q: What’s the most effective way to get rid of an onion smell on a plastic cutting board?

A: When removing onion smells on a plastic cutting board, use milder solutions. These include deodorizing agents like baking soda and white vinegar. Remember, plastic and wooden cutting boards have various durability. So even though using bleach on one is safe, it’s a different case for the other. 

Q: Is deep cleaning a cutting board possible?

A: If you’re dealing with a board with a pungent onion smell, deep cleaning is possible. All you must do is create a baking powder and vinegar solution and apply it to the cutting board. After a few minutes and a good rinse, your cutting board should be good as new. 

Q: Can I use olive oil to remove the onion smell on a cutting board?

A: Olive oil and other similar oils like corn and sunflower oil are dangerous to use on a cutting board. That’s because these oils undergo rancidification, which creates a pungent smell and taste. And when this happens, any food that touches the board will turn rancid—fast.

Q: Can I clean a cutting board naturally?

A: Creating a water and vinegar solution is the safest and most natural way you can clean your cutting board. But make sure to use a nylon-bristled brush to get into the board’s crevices. And this helps you deep clean the kitchen tool without much effort. Just remember to rinse the board with hot and plain water, nothing else. 

Final Thoughts

How to remove onion smell from cutting board? From using common ingredients like baking soda to hydrogen peroxide, there are many ways to eliminate onion smells from a cutting board you can try at home! All you must do is find one that matches your board’s needs the best. Either way, I stand by the techniques mentioned above. Each one will leave your cutting board smelling fresh—and new!

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