How to Clean Plastic Cutting Boards

One handy kitchen product is the plastic cutting board, which comes in a variety of surface hardnesses. It can get wet without warping, weighs little and is economical to buy. Keeping yours clean, so the food you prepare on it always is safe, is a snap.

In home kitchens, you need not permanently assign a product to a board if you clean all boards after each use, disinfecting the meat cutting board. Of course, if you feel safer, go ahead and assign a board by color: perhaps green for growing things, yellow for dairy and white for meats.

  1. Read the directions that come with your new cutting board before discarding its wrappings. If any direction conflicts with information in this article, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. Wipe with a kitchen sponge or dishrag after each type of item you cut: after carrots and before lettuce, for instance.

  3. Scrub with plastic (not metal) scrubbing pad or scrub brush if food has stuck to the surface. It’s fine to use plain water most of the time, but at the end of a food preparation session, wash the plastic cutting board more thoroughly, using dishwashing liquid. A touch of bleach further sterilizes; rinse well after applying.

  4. Add the cutting board to every load of the dishwasher. It will emerge nearly sterile and beautifully clean.

  5. Allow the cutting board to dry entirely between uses, so neither mold nor mildew gets started.

  6. Discard the plastic cutting board when its surface becomes quite rough, when it develops persistent odor or when you notice mildew.

  7. Tip

    From time to time, dose the cutting board with a solution of 1/8 cup chlorine bleach in a pint spray bottle of water. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Clean any cutting board after every use. Be especially careful after raw meat, fish or poultry touches it. Sharply flavored foods like garlic will flavor subsequent uses of the board unless you keep it clean between products. Have two or three plastic cutting boards. Use one for meat products, including poultry and fish, another for fruits and vegetables, and cut cheese on a third. If a plastic cutting board absorbs vegetable dye--carrots and beets are examples--first wipe it clean with a well-wrung sponge or dishrag. Then remove the dye with a little mineral or cooking oil, add soap to dissolve the oil and rinse again. Many plastic cutting board manufacturers suggest you oil the board from time to time, using mineral oil.


    Use only food-caliber rags to clean cutting boards as they are used to prepare things you eat.

    Do not allow a plastic cutting board to touch very hot surfaces, such as stovetop burners, and never put one in the oven. Melting plastic can release toxic fumes and is extremely hard to remove from any surface to which it bonds.