There's been some debate over which is more sanitary, wood or plastic, and the research is inconclusive. Personally, I love my wood cutting boards.
As long as you're cleaning your cutting board of choice properly, they're both about "equal" as far as bacteria growth is concerned.
I prefer wood for a few reasons: to start, they're a natural option which I don't mind having around my food. They don't need to be replaced as often as plastic, which tend to show wear and knife marks, making them an eco-friendly choice. In addition to these benefits, wood boards won’t dull blades as quickly as plastic boards; keeping my knives sharper longer.
- Directly after you use it, clean the board with a warm soapy rag or sponge and rinse thoroughly. Never soak or fully submerge a wood cutting board (or put it in the dishwasher).
- After cutting meats or other bacteria-prone foods, lightly mist the cleaned board with vinegar, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes then wiping off any remaining moisture with a dry towel.
- If you're seriously concerned about bacteria growth, a quick spin in the microwave will kill bacteria deep beneath the surface. Wash and dry your board and then place in the microwave (five minutes for a large board and two for smaller ones) on a weekly basis.
- Always towel-dry your wood cutting boards to prevent mold, mildew, and warping.
- I like to store my cutting boards standing up. I feel this helps to fully dry both sides and keep the board from warping. Alternatively, if you prefer to store your board lying flat, you can use a counter protector that will add air circulation under the board.
- If you use your cutting board everyday; you'll want to deep clean and condition it approximately once every 2-3 weeks.
Deep Cleaning a Wood Cutting Board
To help get rid of stains, and stuck in smells (like garlic and onion) I clean my cutting boards using the old all-natural method of citrus and salt.
I cook exclusively with Himalayan Pink Salt and use that to clean my cutting boards. I buy mine from Costco in bulk, but you can try it out from Amazon.
To clean: cut a lemon (or I've also used limes in a pinch) in half and pour a generous amount of salt onto the half-lemon. Working in circles as if buffing wax into a car, use this all-natural scrubber on the cutting boards. The salt is an abrasive that helps remove stains and the lemon juice helps to eliminate unpleasant odors.
(Tip: after I finish cleaning my boards, I drop the used half-lemon into my sink garbage disposal and run it with some water. The ground up lemon rind leaves a clean and fresh aroma rising from the disposal).
Oiling the Board
After a deep clean, you definitely want to oil a cutting board to help seal the wood and preserve it for future use. Never use a cooking oil like olive or canola; these will seep deep into the wood and turn rancid. The rancid oil won't exactly ruin the wood, but it will impact the flavor of anything you cut on the board in the future: yuck!
I hope you find these tips useful next time your shopping for a cutting board or if you realize you've been neglecting yours at home. Do you have any other tips or tricks I missed? I'd love to hear from you.