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How to Clean a Cutting Board

How to Clean a Cutting Board

Last updated on 8/21/2018

Found in almost all commercial kitchens, cutting boards are one of the most commonly used tools for preparing food. Understanding how to properly care for these boards will not only increase their lifespan, but appropriate care also prevents bacteria from spreading and causing dangerous cross-contamination. Whether you run a small bistro, fast food restaurant, or upscale steakhouse, understanding how to clean and maintain your cutting boards is key to having a safe and sanitary foodservice operation. From wood to plastic, keep reading to learn how to clean your cutting board.

You can also jump to a specific cutting board type below:

How to Clean Wood Cutting Boards

Wood Cutting Board
Wood Cutting Boards from $7.79

Wooden cutting boards have naturally porous surfaces that can harbor bacteria. Tiny cuts or grooves made on their surfaces also provide a natural habitat for bacteria to grow, which makes cleaning wooden cutting boards extremely important to prevent cross-contamination.

There are several methods used for cleaning wood cutting boards including soap and water, vinegar, and bleach.

Soap and Water:

  1. Hand wash the board immediately after use with water and dish soap.
  2. Pat the board dry with a paper towel or clean dishtowel immediately after cleaning.

Vinegar:

  1. Pour vinegar all over the surface of your board.
  2. Wipe down with a clean, wet cloth.

Using vinegar is not recommended for cutting boards used with raw meat, fish, or poultry.

Bleach:

  1. Create a mixture of 1 tsp. of bleach for every 1 quart of water.
  2. Pour the mixture over the board and rinse thoroughly with hot water.

Because moisture absorption can cause splintering and warping of the wood as well as encourage rapid bacteria growth, never submerge your wood cutting board under water or clean it in the dishwasher.

How to Maintain Wood Cutting Boards

Seasoning your board can extend its life and prevent warps and cracks from forming. Depending on how often you use your wooden cutting board, you can season it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

Here’s how to season your wooden cutting board:

  1. Wipe food-grade mineral oil or beeswax over your dry board’s exterior.
  2. Allow the oil to sit for a few hours.
  3. Wipe off excess oil or beeswax with a dry cloth.

Never use vegetable or olive oil to season a cutting board because these can become rancid over time.

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How to Clean Bamboo Cutting Boards

Bamboo Cutting Board
Bamboo Cutting Boards from $11.99

In general, bamboo cutting boards will not crack, warp, or stain as easily as wooden boards because of their higher density. They’re also more resistant to cuts and scars caused by knives than wooden alternatives, which means they’re more resistant to hazardous bacteria growth.

Here’s how to clean a bamboo cutting board:

  1. You may use dish soap, white vinegar, or a dilution of bleach and water to clean your board.
  2. Combine your chosen cleaning product with hot water and thoroughly scrub the surface of your board.
  3. Pat the board dry with a paper towel or clean dishtowel immediately after cleaning.
  4. Do not soak your bamboo cutting board or put it through the dishwasher.

How to Maintain Bamboo Cutting Boards

The process for maintaining a bamboo cutting board is very similar to that used to maintain a wooden board:

  1. Wipe food-grade mineral oil or beeswax over your dry board’s exterior.
  2. Allow the oil to sit for a few hours.
  3. Wipe off excess oil or beeswax with a dry cloth.
  4. Never use vegetable or olive oil to season a cutting board because these can become rancid over time.

But in addition to the steps above, you can also slice a lemon in half and rub it cut side down over the board’s surface to freshen up the board between oil or beeswax treatments. The natural acidity of the lemon will help to break down any residue on your cutting board.

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How to Clean Rubber Cutting Boards

Rubber Cutting Board
Rubber Cutting Boards from $22.99

One of the advantages of a rubber cutting board is its non-porous and non-absorbent surface, which is resistant to warping and won’t retain as much bacteria as porous alternatives.

Here’s how to clean a rubber cutting board:

  1. Carefully scrub the board with dish soap and hot water.
  2. Never run your rubber cutting board through the dishwasher because the high temperatures could damage the materials.

How to Maintain Rubber Cutting Boards

Unlike wood and bamboo options, rubber cutting boards do not require much maintenance. Simply replace the board once it has been heavily scored by your knives. This will prevent bacteria from growing below the imperfections brought on by long-term use.

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How to Clean Composite Cutting Boards

Composite Cutting Board
Composite Cutting Boards from $39.99

To clean a composite cutting board, simply rinse it and place it in a dishwasher.

Composite cutting boards are made from a heavy-duty resin material, making them durable and long lasting. Generally, composite boards are able to withstand temperatures up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit without damage. As a result, they are perfect to use when carving meat and can even be used as a pizza peel.

How to Maintain Composite Cutting Boards

Even though composite cutting boards are more resistant to scratches and gouges than wood and plastic boards, they do need to be replaced after wear and tear. Be mindful of your board’s surface damage and replace it if it gives off an odor when wet.

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How to Clean Flexible Cutting Boards

Flexible Cutting Board
Flexible Cutting Boards from $1.70

When you are finished using your flexible cutting board, simply rinse it with warm water and place it in your dishwasher.

Flexible cutting boards feature a bendable design that allows you to easily shape them into a funnel in order to transfer chopped and sliced ingredients from the board and into your bowl or pan. Flexible boards are often made of a plastic resin which helps to resist bacteria growth.

How to Maintain Flexible Cutting Boards

Most flexible cutting boards are relatively thin, and not all options will be suitable for use with exceptionally sharp blades. If any of your cuts go through, you will need to replace your board.

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How to Clean Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic Cutting Board
Plastic Cutting Boards from $1.70

Most plastic cutting boards are designed to be dishwasher safe, but repeated exposure to high temperatures may cause warping.

You can also clean your plastic cutting boards using the following method:

  1. Create a sanitizing solution of 1 tsp. of bleach to 1 quart of water.
  2. Wipe the surface of your plastic cutting boards down with the cleaning solution and rinse thoroughly with hot water.

Occasionally, you can use a paste made from 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of water. This mixture will help to remove any surface stains on your plastic cutting board, and it is especially helpful for cleaning white cutting boards.

Cutting boards made from plastic feature a non-porous poly material that makes them safe for food handling. Since their surfaces are resistant to cuts, these boards won’t allow bacteria to seep into the board, which helps to ensure kitchen sanitation.

How to Maintain Plastic Cutting Boards

When you start to see scoring on your plastic cutting board, use a steel scouring pad to remove any loose plastic particles from the board’s surface, and then use a belt sander to smooth out the surface.

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Each type of cutting board has unique needs for cleaning and maintaining. Therefore, it is important to know how to treat your cutting board in order to avoid unsafe levels of bacteria and prevent damage. Use this guide as a reference when cleaning your cutting boards, but if you remain unsure of how to treat your board, consult with the board's manufacturer.

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