The Best Ways to Clean and Disinfect Plastic Cutting Boards (Without Bleach)

published Aug 22, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

The age-old argument over wood versus plastic cutting boards is one that will be perpetually debated. Some home cooks and chefs land squarely in one camp, while others see merits of both for different uses. One thing all sides will definitely agree on, though, is that cutting board cleanliness is pretty darn important. (Understatement of the year?)

And plastic cutting boards, while incredibly convenient and easy to care for (they can go in the dishwasher unlike wood and even bamboo ones), can harbor bacteria in those knife-inflicted grooves that mar the surface over time. Bleach can kill lots of these bacteria, but we get that not everyone wants to introduce this chemical into their kitchens — let alone their food prep surfaces.

Our favorite plastic cutting board: OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board, $15

With that in mind, here’s how to clean your plastic cutting boards without using bleach.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. Put your cutting boards in the dishwasher when possible.

One of the benefits of plastic being nonporous is that you can put your plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher. And you should. The dishwasher run on a hot cycle is one of the best ways to disinfect your cutting board. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. When you need to wash by hand, use hot soapy water and a scrub brush.

A rag or sponge won’t get into the knife grooves that are present on any used plastic cutting board. Use a scrub brush to work the water and soap into the crevices and dislodge any food particles and bacteria. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

3. Use an alternative disinfecting solution.

To manually disinfect without using bleach, after you’ve washed your cutting board, try soaking the board in a white vinegar solution or spraying it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Either way, let the board sit for at least five minutes before washing it again with soap and water.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

4. Scrub out stains.

When necessary, make a paste that’s one part baking soda, one part salt, and one part water to scrub out surface stains.