Cutting boards take a lot of abuse — they’re designed to handle cutting, smashing, even pulverizing. It’s important to keep them up to the task by making sure they’re properly cleaned and sanitized.
Cutting boards made of wood or plastic are porous to varying degrees and require different cleaning techniques. A piece by Houzz.com advises you on how to clean and sanitize each type of cutting board and how to prevent cross-contamination in your kitchen.
Wood Cutting Boards
For a traditionalist, it’s hard to beat the look of a classic wood cutting board. Wood boards come in two varieties: a solid piece of wood and butcher block, made up of thick strips of hardwood glued together with a food-safe adhesive.
Solid wood cutting boards don’t hold up as well as butcher block, as every slice or chop from a knife may leave a nick or a scratch behind. They tend to work best for less intense uses, such as serving cheese or charcuterie.
Butcher block cutting boards are made up of end grains, meaning the board’s surface consists of exposed wood fibers, which are resistant to nicks and scratches and even self-heal over time, as the fibers will push back into place.
Keep wood cutting boards dry. Neither solid wood nor butcher block cutting boards should be submerged in water for a long period of time. Wood is porous, and moisture will seep in and damage the wood as well as the adhesive that holds the butcher block pieces together. It’s therefore not recommended to put wood cutting boards in the dishwasher.
Wood boards are also susceptible to other liquids seeping into them. Juices from meats can carry bacteria, such as salmonella, that can live on boards that haven’t been properly cleaned and sanitized.
Cleaning and sanitizing wood cutting boards. Wood boards should be wiped with a cloth, a mild soap (such as castile) and warm water to remove meat juices and other food debris.
To sanitize the board, fill a spray bottle with ordinary hydrogen peroxide (3 percent). Then spray the wood with a light mist and let it sit overnight. The hydrogen peroxide will kill the bacteria. In the morning, rinse the cutting board under hot water and dry it, and it’s ready to use again.
Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards might not have the classic look of wood, but they do have a few advantages that make them worthwhile.
Cleaning and sanitizing plastic cutting boards. Plastic boards are easier to clean than wood ones. They can be submerged in hot water and scrubbed with a sponge. They should be air-dried and sanitized with hydrogen peroxide, using the same method as for wood cutting boards.
Dishwasher-safe. Many plastic cutting boards can be cleaned and sanitized in the dishwasher. Place them on the bottom rack and use the hottest water temperature setting.
Color-code your plastic cutting boards. You can prevent cross-contamination by using plastic cutting boards in specific colors for specific foods. Most restaurants have different colors for each type of food. Green is for vegetables, yellow for raw poultry, red for raw beef, blue for cooked foods, white for dairy and tan for seafood.