image of woman washing wooden cutting board in sink

How to clean plastic, wood, and bamboo cutting boards—naturally.

Last Updated: February 11, 2022

Regardless of the cutting board you use, it needs to be adequately cleaned after every use to avoid leaving behind food particles or bacteria resulting in foodborne illness!

Getting your hands dirty in the kitchen is a fun activity for the whole family, but keeping up with cleaning and sanitizing is critical to keep everyone safe. Bacteria can easily travel across surfaces, so it’s essential to be mindful about cleaning your kitchen and tools often.

Most of us have a cutting board, whether plastic, wood, or bamboo. Regardless of the cutting board you use, it needs to be adequately cleaned after every use to avoid leaving behind food particles or bacteria resulting in foodborne illness! Read on to learn some tips and tricks about the best natural cleaners for each type of cutting board surface.

How long can bacteria live on a cutting board?

Dr. Shaffner, microbiologist and professor, reviewed the research and concluded bacteria on a cutting board can double after 10 minutes of use, whether cutting raw meat or vegetables. Safefood found bacteria can last on kitchen surfaces for 1 hour, and E.coli can last for up to 24 hours!

Assuming plastic cutting boards are more sanitary than wood is a misnomer. In general, there is a risk for bacteria, no matter the cutting board material. The difference is how well your cutting board holds up to wear and tear and if there are crevices for bacteria and particles to lodge themselves into.

Once your cutting board has scratches and grooves, bacteria have an easier time wiggling in. Therefore, plastic or wood is more likely to welcome bacteria, whereas dense materials like bamboo are less prone to scratches—and therefore maybe bacteria.

How often should I clean my cutting board?

image of a bamboo cutting board

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning your cutting board with a natural cleaner after every use.

If you are preparing meat on your cutting board, it’s even more important to clean and sanitize after every use.

What are the best cleaners to clean a cutting board with?

To properly clean your cutting board, you’ll want to find cleaners and tools specific to your cutting board material.

You will need to collect the following supplies to clean your cutting board.

Plastic cutting board cleaners

Plastic cutting boards are usually dishwasher safe and can be cleaned and sanitized this way. To effectively clean your plastic cutting board in the dishwasher, use Grove Co. Total Clean Dishwasher Detergent Packs or other natural, yet effective, dishwasher detergents.

To wash your plastic cutting board by hand, use the following tools and natural products:

Wood cutting board cleaners

Wooden cutting boards are cleaned a bit differently from plastic. First, you should not put your wood cutting board in the dishwasher. Wash by hand only.

To clean your wood cutting board after use, you need the following materials and supplies.

To deep clean your wooden cutting board, you will also need lemon and salt.

Bamboo cutting board cleaners

Bamboo cutting boards are sustainable and low-maintenance options. Bamboo is a dense wood and holds up better to knives; it doesn’t get the nicks and grooves other cutting boards do.

Cleaning your bamboo cutting board is similar to cleaning wood and plastic one but requires a soft cloth instead of a scrubber or sponge.

To clean a bamboo cutting board, you need:

Vinegar is an eco-friendly, natural option to clean your kitchen and is a great addition when cleaning your cutting board. Vinegar can clean cutting boards of all types.

How to clean and sanitize a plastic / silicone cutting board

Most plastic or silicone cutting boards can safely go into the dishwasher. If you choose to clean and sanitize your cutting board this way, use a natural dishwasher detergent. Easy peasy.

To hand wash and sanitize, you will need a scrubber and a mixture of hot water and natural dish soap.

  1. Use the hot soapy water mixture and your scrubber to scrub your plastic cutting board.
  2. Work the scrubber into any crevices to clean out any food particles or bacteria.
  3. Rinse your cutting board and let air dry or wipe down with a cloth or paper towel.

To effectively disinfect and sanitize your plastic or silicone cutting board, you can use a white vinegar solution. Completely coat your plastic cutting board with vinegar and let it sit for at least five minutes. Wash and dry again.

How to clean and sanitize a wooden cutting board

To clean and sanitize a wooden cutting board, you will need a silicone scraper, a mixture of hot water and natural dish soap, and a scrubber. Remember, wooden cutting boards cannot go into the dishwasher.

  1. First, wipe off excess debris. You can use a scraper if needed to loosen stuck-on food.
  2. Then, scrub your board with your water and dish soap mixture.
  3. Give special attention to spots that have grooves or scratches where bacteria may be sitting.
  4. Allow your cutting board to air dry upright.

We recommend a deep clean every few weeks. For deep cleaning …

  1. Gently rub the board with kosher salt and a half a lemon.
  2. Allow your salt and lemon solution to form a paste and dry.
  3. Once it’s completely dry, scrape it off with your scraper (or opt for a spatula).
  4. Wash and dry the board.

Now follow the cleaning steps above and finish it off with a sanitizing vinegar step to make sure your wooden cutting board is bacteria-free. Cover your wooden cutting board with distilled white vinegar and let it sit for a couple minutes to naturally and easily sanitize.

How to clean and sanitize a bamboo cutting board

Cleaning and sanitizing your bamboo cutting board is simple. We recommend cleaning your bamboo board immediately to avoid staining. Do not put your bamboo cutting board in the dishwasher or let it sit in water to soak. This could cause warping or damage to any protective coating.

Like wood cutting boards, you will clean your bamboo prep board with hot water and natural dish soap. Be careful with your bamboo board, as it is not as hard as a wooden board, and shouldn’t be scraped or scrubbed hard.

  1. First, wipe away any excess debris.
  2. Next, use a microfiber cloth to wash the bamboo board with a water and dish soap mixture.
  3. Pat it dry with paper towels.

Bamboo has antiseptic properties, but you should still disinfect it. Opt for a water and white vinegar mixture (one to one ratio).

Rub your bamboo board with the mixture, and spread baking soda over it. Use a soft sponge to rub the baking soda into your bamboo board, focusing on any stains. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then rinse with warm water and wipe with a dry cloth.

Don’t forget to maintain your bamboo cutting board by applying Pure Sense Wood & Bamboo Conditioner and Protectant or any other food-grade mineral oil or beeswax periodically.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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