Critiquing Cutting Boards: Wood vs. Plastic, and How to Keep Them Clean

Answering some questions about cutting boards

They’re the workhorses of your kitchen—your cutting boards. You probably use them every day. Consumer Reports has some useful tips on how to care for your cutting boards to keep them in top shape and as free of bacteria as possible.

One of the first questions you may have is whether plastic is better than wood for resisting contamination by harmful bacteria that can be in raw food. Recent research actually suggests that neither one is more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria like salmonella.

One important precaution: Don’t use the board for cutting bread, fruit, and veggies for also cutting up raw meat, fish, and poultry. And after every use, even if it’s just cutting bread, wash the board in hot, soapy water, rinse with clear water, and dry.

Plastic cutting boards are really easy to care for; you can scrub them down in the sink or pop them right in the dishwasher. But wood boards need a bit more attention. Don’t soak them in water or they might warp when they dry. Protect the wood with a food-grade mineral oil, and then rub in a beeswax-based cream to reduce the absorption of liquids. If, despite all your efforts, your wood board still smells of the food you’ve cut on it, eliminate odors by rubbing it with lemon and salt. Then rinse and pat dry.

Every few months, wash all types of cutting boards with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water to sanitize. Give a final rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly. Store upright to facilitate airflow, and you’re done! 

You know how beaten up a cutting board can look after a while? Consumer Reports says to replace the board when it gets scarred and treat yourself to a new one.

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