By Melanie Fincher

Learn how to clean and maintain your cutting boards—whether they're wooden, plastic, bamboo, or composite.

Cutting boards are some of the most reached for kitchen tools in anyone's cabinet. But these handy kitchen helpers require a little TLC in order to keep up appearances. Not only that, but they can also become habitats for bacteria to grow (which can lead to cross contamination). Whether you're working with artisan hardwood cutting boards or more affordable plastic cutting boards, we'll teach you how to properly clean and care for your cutting boards.

In the market for a new cutting board? Here are the 7 Best Cutting Boards to Buy in 2019.

Photo by Getty Images

How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board

Wooden cutting boards are popular for a number of reasons. Because they are more attractive than other types of cutting boards, they can also be used as serving platters. They also don't get as many scrapes from consistent use as plastic cutting boards. But since they are made of wood, cleaning them looks a little different than most kitchen tools.

  • Hand Wash Only: For some this may sound obvious, but it's important to remember that drawn-out exposure to heat and water (like that from a dishwasher) can cause wooden cutting boards to split or warp.
  • Use Warm Water and Dish Soap: After each use, a wooden cutting board should be cleaned with warm water, dish soap, and a soft sponge. Be sure to clean any crevices where food and bacteria may hide.
  • Disinfect Your Board: If you're noticing a sour smell, or just want to give your board a good deep clean, try this method. Place a cup of baking powder onto the board, and then pour a cup of white vinegar over the entire board. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then give it a good rinse. This should remove any stains as well.
  • Dry It Off: It's important that you immediately dry off your board with a dry dish towel. Since you're dealing with wood, allowing your board to sit wet for a long period of time can cause wood fibers to swell, and your board to warp or split as a result.
  • Preserve Your Board with Oil: If you want to pamper your wooden cutting boards a little extra, consider using a food-grade mineral oil to prevent water from entering your board and warping its natural state. Apply the oil generously to all sides of your cutting board, and let it soak overnight. Stand the cutting board up to dry.

How to Clean a Plastic Cutting Board

Plastic cutting boards are popular because they tend to be more affordable. It is widely believed that they are more sanitary than wooden cutting boards because of their non-porous surface. However, this doesn't consider that plastic cutting boards are more susceptible to scrapes. A well worn plastic cutting board can contain a fair amount of bacteria in all the nooks and crannies on its surface.

  • Hand Washing is Best: Although plastic can handle the dishwasher (unlike wooden cutting boards), it's best to hand wash in order to lengthen the lifespan of your boards and prevent warping.
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Solution: Mix a teaspoon of bleach with a quart of water and use a soft sponge to clean your board using this mixture.
  • Rinse and Dry: Be sure to rinse the cleaning solution off of your cutting board with hot water. Stand the cutting board up to dry.
  • Remove Stains: In order to remove pesky stains from your plastic cutting boards, trying using a paste made of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of water.
  • Keep It Smooth: Plastic cutting boards can take a lot of wear. When you start to notice loose plastic particles popping up on the boards surface, use a steel scouring pad to smooth things out.

How to Clean a Bamboo Cutting Board

Bamboo cutting boards are fairly popular because they have a similar look to wooden cutting boards but are less susceptible to warping, splitting, and scrapes (and hence less of a haven for bacteria).

  • Hand Wash: Like wooden cutting boards, bamboo cutting boards are usually not dishwasher safe due to the potential for splitting and warping.
  • Use Warm Water and Dish Soap: Thoroughly scrub the surface of your cutting board using dish soap, warm water, and a soft sponge.
  • Pat to Dry: Immediately after cleaning your bamboo cutting board, pat it dry with a dish towel to avoid letting water soak into the board.
  • Maintain Your Board: Like a wooden cutting board, food-grade mineral oil may be used to keep the bamboo from drying out, and to protect water from entering the board. For added care, you may also rub a lemon slice over the boards surface to freshen it up and remove residue.

How to Clean a Composite Cutting Board

Composite cutting boards are popular due to their durability. They're made from heavy-duty resin material, which unfortunately makes them a little tougher on knives. But they can withstand high temperatures. This makes them great for carving meat. Of all the cutting board types, they're also the easiest to clean.

  • Use the Dishwasher: If hand washing isn't your thing, composite cutting boards are the way to go. Simply rinse the board and place it in the dishwasher to clean. Because of their ability to withstand high temperatures, you don't have to worry about the dishwasher warping them from their natural state.
  • Maintenance: Although composite cutting boards are long lasting and highly resistant to scratches and wear, they may eventually require replacement. If they start to give off an odor when wet, it might be time to replace your composite cutting board.

Related: Why Wooden Cutting Boards Are Better (And How To Keep Them That Way)

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