How To Clean A Cutting Board (Wood, Plastic, Composite, Bamboo)

This MVP kitchen item takes the most abuse and gets the least attention.

A good cutting board is the unsung hero of your kitchen. You know you’ve got a favorite one. There’s the one you use for, like, everything. It probably hangs out on your counter day in and day out, getting the occasional rinse ‘n repeat treatment. Then there’s the one you proudly display charcuterie on for company. (We bet it’s very heavy and maybe boasts some sort of metallic inlay.) And then there’s the kind of ugly plastic one that you utilize for meats, but it lives someplace dark and dank between uses.

Cutting boards are probably the most used kitchen item that receive the least amount of attention or afterthought.

But these guys need some love, too. And between washes, you might consider actually sanitizing your cherished cutting boards. Especially the wood ones, which are arguably the most attractive, but harbor the most bacteria. Plus, wood soaks up smells and flavors which can unintentionally transfer between dishes. Thorough cleaning and disinfecting can prevent your breakfast from tasting like last night’s dinner.

You want to be sure to properly disinfect your cutting board so that — depending on its material — it doesn’t retain residual cleaning solutions, which could be hazardous to your health. Afterall, having your breakfast taste like last night’s dinner is preferable to having your breakfast taste like yesterday’s cleaning product. So definitely avoid using polish or chemicals to make your cutting boards look more pretty, because they may not be food safe.

Read on to learn about how to clean and disinfect all types of cutting boards, including wood, plastic, composite, bamboo and glass.

How to clean + disinfect a wooden cutting board

Whatever you do, do not put your wood cutting board in the dishwasher. This bears repeating. Please, please do not put your wood cutting board in the dishwasher! Wood cutting boards are awesome for so many reasons, but they are notorious for being porous (because, wood) and therefore able to absorb bacteria. But as the bacteria becomes absorbed by the cutting board, it ultimately dies peacefully and alone inside of the wood’s layers. But if you stick your wood cutting board into the dishwasher, not only will it become sad and warped from the heat and steam, but it will begin to develop cracks which can retain more bacteria that remain near the surface and can make you sick. Your wood cutting board will not just become ugly and aged looking from the dishwasher, but can also turn into a gross potential breeding ground for germs.

So, how to clean the wood cutting board then? By hand, of course.

To clean your wood cutting board:

  • Wash the cutting board with warm water and Dawn Dish Soap using a soft sponge. Be sure to wash it after every use.
  • Wash both sides of the cutting board, even if you only used the one. (Germs and bacteria can easily travel, after all.)
  • Wipe the cutting board dry with a dish towel. Then allow the cutting board to air dry completely before using.

To disinfect your wood cutting board, you’ve got a few options:

  • Spray your cutting board with a heavily diluted bleach solution (about 1 tablespoon to 3 cups water). Rinse with cold water. Let air dry completely before using.
  • Use a paper towel or wet cloth to apply some hydrogen peroxide to your cutting board. Rinse with cold water. Let air dry completely before using. (Don’t pour peroxide directly onto the board itself!)

Does your wood cutting board smell funky?

Every time you cut up some fruit on it, does your melon end up tasting like last week’s scampi? It’s not your fault; aromatics are potent lil’ buggers. We’ve got some suggestions to reset its odor to that authentic “new cutting board” scent. No air fresheners involved.

  • Pour some salt onto your wood cutting board and rub half a lemon (fruit face down) into the cutting board, as if you’re exfoliating it. This ought to freshen up its scent, banishing persistent garlic and onion odors.
  • Spray a neutralizing white vinegar and water solution (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) onto the (completely dry!) cutting board and rinse with cold water.
  • Sprinkle a cup of baking powder over your cutting board and then pour a cup of white vinegar on top of it. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. This should zap the smell and also help to eliminate any stubborn stains (ahem, beets).

To maintain your wood cutting board’s quality:

Once a month, use a soft cloth to buff a thin layer of food grade mineral oil into your wood cutting board. Let it soak into the board overnight before using. (Note: Avoid using olive or avocado oil for this task.) Oiling your board can help to prevent dryness, cracking or warping.

How to clean + disinfect a plastic cutting board

Plastic cutting boards are popular because they’re cheap, lightweight and are less likely to absorb bacteria because of their nonporous nature. But they’re not impervious to scrapes, scuffs and stab wounds (and we commend you for keeping those knives good and sharp!). If your plastic cutting board is full of said grooves and scars, those divots can trap bacteria and are best sanitized in the scorching hot water of the dishwasher. If your plastic cutting board is relatively new and yet unscathed, handwashing can still help to prevent warping and ultimately lengthen its lifespan.

To clean your plastic cutting board, you’ve got a few options:

  • Hand wash the plastic cutting board with warm water and Dawn Dish Soap. You can use a stiff bristled brush or scouring sponge on plastic, since it’s pretty hearty. Wash both sides of the cutting board, even if you only used the one.
  • Simply toss your plastic cutting board into the dishwasher on a regular cycle, and be sure to load it on the bottom towards the outside of the rack so it doesn’t block the other dishes from the water stream. To ensure you get all the stuck on food, grime and grease off of your cutting board, we recommend using Cascade Platinum ActionPacs dishwasher detergent.

To disinfect your plastic cutting board:

  • Run your plastic cutting board through the dishwasher on its hottest setting. Then spray the board with white vinegar (no need to dilute). Wipe off vinegar with a wet rag and spray the board with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse clean with warm water.
  • Note: While you can generally use a bleach solution to clean plastic, we don’t recommend it for your cutting boards. Bleach is super corrosive and can degrade the plastic. Hydrogen peroxide is just as effective for disinfecting, but it’s non-corrosive nature makes it preferable in this scenario.

For plastic cutting board stains, scuffs + smells:

  • Make a paste made of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of water and scrub your plastic cutting board with a scouring pad.
  • For really stubborn stains, you can soak your plastic cutting board in a white vinegar bath for a few minutes prior to scrubbing it with your DIY cleaning paste.
  • A scouring pad will shear off any loose plastic particles, preventing them from getting into your food.

How to clean + disinfect a composite cutting board

WTF is a composite cutting board? Only the most durable cutting board out there. Composite cutting boards are super heavy duty, made of a special resin material. Composite cutting boards are perfect for handling high temperatures, making them ideal for carving meat (however, they can be tough on knives). What’s our favorite feature of composite cutting boards? They are so easy to clean!

To clean your composite cutting board:

  • Rinse and toss directly into the dishwasher. Boom, done! Because composite cutting boards are built to withstand high temperatures, they thrive in the dishwasher.

To disinfect your composite cutting board:

  • Spray your composite cutting board with a heavily diluted bleach solution (about 1 tablespoon to 3 cups water). Rinse with hot water. Let air dry completely before using.
  • Composite cutting boards have a long lifespan, but if you notice it starts to give off a funky smell when it’s wet, it might be time to replace it.

How to clean + disinfect a bamboo cutting board

Who doesn’t love bamboo? It’s attractive, like wood, but less porous and therefore less likely to carry germs and bacteria. Plus they tend not to warp as easily as wood. But — like wood — they are not dishwasher friendly. So they should be washed and treated as if they’re wood.

To clean your bamboo cutting board:

  • Wash your bamboo cutting board with warm water and Dawn Dish Soap using a soft sponge. Be sure to wash it after every use.
  • Wash both sides of the cutting board, even if you only used the one. (Germs and bacteria can easily travel, after all.)
  • Wipe the cutting board dry with a dish towel. Then allow the cutting board to air dry completely before using.

To disinfect your bamboo cutting board, you’ve got a few options:

  • Spray your bamboo cutting board with a heavily diluted bleach solution (about 1 tablespoon to 3 cups water). Rinse with cold water. Let air dry completely before using.
  • Use a paper towel or wet cloth to apply some hydrogen peroxide to your cutting board. Rinse with cold water. Let air dry completely before using. (Don’t pour peroxide directly onto the board itself!)

To maintain your bamboo cutting board’s quality:

  • Once a month, use a soft cloth to buff a thin layer of food grade mineral oil into your bamboo cutting board. Let it soak into the board overnight before using. (Note: Avoid using olive or avocado oil for this task.)

How to clean + disinfect your glass cutting board

Tempered glass cutting boards aren’t super popular. They dull knives and tend to be noisy while chopping. But they do look nice and are incredibly easy to clean and sanitize, due to their nonporous nature. Despite the fact that they’re glass and glass is generally fragile (and both dangerous and annoying to have to clean up), glass cutting boards are often treated with a protective element to prevent scratching. So don’t be afraid to give them a proper scrub down.

To clean your glass cutting board, you’ve got some options:

  • Wash the cutting board with warm water and Dawn Dish Soap using a soft sponge. Be sure to wash it after every use. Be sure to wash both sides of the cutting board, even if you only used the one.
  • Or just run your glass cutting board through a dishwasher on a regular cycle with a Cascade Platinum ActionPac for streak-free results.

To disinfect your glass cutting board:

  • Spray your glass cutting board with a heavily diluted bleach solution (about 1 tablespoon to 3 cups water). Rinse with cold water. Let air dry completely before using.

So there you have it: Clean and disinfected cutting boards. Now each meal can taste like its true, authentic self and you don’t have to worry about stowaway bacteria hiding out in those knife marks. Keep on top of your chores by adding “deep cleaning your cutting boards” into your weekly kitchen cleaning routine.

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