How often do you think about your cutting boards? Probably not very often, but you likely use them every day. If you're like me, you probably have several cutting boards, some plastic and some wood. Whichever you use, keeping them free of bacteria through proper cleaning, disinfecting, and maintenance is key to a food-safe kitchen.
Weekend Assignment: Clean and disinfect your cutting boards and learn how to care for them long-term.
Types of Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards are nonporous and, therefore, it seems like they'd be among the cleanest options. However, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface. scientific studies have found that "more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface." Moreover, a knife-scarred plastic cutting board is impossible to properly clean unless it's run through the dishwasher. Experts recommend using plastic boards for cutting meat for the very reason that they can be disinfected in high heat in a dishwasher.
Although wooden cutting boards are porous, they are easier to keep free of surface bacteria. Bacteria disappear into the wood, where they do not multiply and, rather, gradually die. Even knife-scarred wooden surfaces behave in this way.
Glass, Granite, and Other Materials
Cutting boards made from these materials are quite damaging to the sharp blades of a knife and are not recommended. Dulling knives presents its own kitchen hazard.
Visit our sister site the Kitchn for more information on various types of cutting boards.
How to Clean Cutting Boards
Cutting boards should be cleaned every time they are used. Even if you have a chopping block that always sits out on the counter, it should be washed after each use so that bacteria doesn't grow and contaminate food the next time you use it.
Plastic cutting boards
Plastic cutting boards should ideally be washed in the dishwasher since it's not possible to properly clean one that has knife cuts in it manually. If you choose to use plastic cutting boards, make sure to have a few on hand in case you need to use another cutting board before the dishwasher is run. If you don't have a dishwasher, scrub your board under hot water with dish soap and follow instructions in the next section to disinfect.
Wooden cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards must also be thoroughly cleaned after each use. They should not be put in the dishwasher which can cause them to warp or crack, but they can be effectively cleaned by scrubbing them with a sponge and dish detergent under the hottest water you can stand.
Disinfecting Your Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards can be disinfected in the dishwasher, which is the only way they can be properly cleaned.
For deeper disinfecting, both plastic and wooden cutting boards can be disinfected with a bleach solution. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water should be used to flood the surface of an already clean cutting board. Allow the solution to stand for several minutes before washing and drying.
Deodorizing and Refreshing Wooden Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards may also be deep cleaned with lemons, baking soda, and salt. We walk you through it in this tutorial.
Oiling Your Wooden Cutting Board
Wooden cutting boards should be conditioned periodically with mineral oil. Simply rub the oil into the wood with a rag or paper towel. (Be careful of putting rags with oil on them in the dryer, as it's a fire hazard.) Frequency of oiling will vary from about twice a year to every month depending on your climate (humid locations will require less oiling) and how often your board is used.
When to Replace Your Cutting Board
Cutting boards should be replaced when they contain too many knife grooves, deep knives grooves, or splits or warps in the wood that could harbor bacteria.
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