Are wooden chopping boards hygienic?

Ever since I was a youngster learning to cook at home, I was led to believe that plastic chopping boards are the most hygienic. I mean it’s obvious, right? You can give them a really good scrub with super hot water and washing up liquid and even chuck them in the dishwasher to have all the germs and bacteria steamed out of them.

You can’t put a wooden chopping board in the dishwasher can you? The steam will warp the wood and cracks will appear.

But wooden chopping boards are so beautiful, and I don’t want to fill my house up with things that aren’t gorgeous.

Plastic chopping boards get bashed up and covered in unsightly knife marks the more you use them and eventually need to be chucked in the bin as the deeper the knife marks, the harder they are to clean so they are far from ideal.

care for chopping board

I had a look at the Food Standards Agency website as I was unsure about how hygienic a wooden board was. This is what I found in a food safety quiz:

1.     Plastic chopping boards are more hygienic than wooden ones

False – it’s a myth

There isn’t any strong evidence that one type of chopping board is more or less hygienic than another, whether plastic, wooden, glass or even marble. What is important is that the board gets cleaned properly after every use and is replaced if it gets damaged, for example from deep cuts or scoring. You could also use separate chopping boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods.

So it seems that as long as the boards are properly cleaned, it doesn’t matter what the board is made of. This is great news for wood lovers like me!

personalised oak chopping boards

Let’s look a little more at the pros and cons of wood and plastic boards.

Plastic Boards

·      Easy to clean – run under hot water and scrub with a scourer and washing up liquid.

·      Can be put in the dishwasher. This is ideal for cleaning bacteria from raw meat.

·      Lightweight

·      Can be prone to slipping around which can result in knife injuries.

·      Not long lasting due to warping, going furry from knife marks, deep scores on surface from knives. 

how to clean my wooden chopping board

Wood Boards

·      Can be cleaned by running hot water over the board and scrubbing with scourer and dish soap.

·      Must not be put in the dishwasher. The steam will ruin it.

·      Good for knives, doesn’t blunt them as quickly as plastic (glass is the worst for knives – AVOID!)

·      Safety – a chunky wooden board will not slip around the work surface whilst you are chopping.

·      Wood – can last a lifetime if cared for correctly.

keep chopping board clean

So, the one thing that really stands out for me when comparing and contrasting the two types of chopping board is the fact that the plastic board can be put in the dishwasher.

In my kitchen, I really want to make sure that there is no cross contamination of raw meat bacteria and the rest of my family’s food. For my own peace of mind, I really want to wash any board that has been used to cut raw animal products in the dishwasher.

So I have a separate plastic board just for that purpose. I know that it will need regular replacing. I am wary of the possibility of it slipping when I am using it so am extra careful and I keep it in a cupboard because it is ugly!

For everything else, including slicing freshly baked bread, chopping vegetables, serving cheese and even preparing the lemons for that all important Gin & Tonic drink, I love the way it looks, I love the feel of the warm wood under my hand. I clean it with hot soapy water and leave to air dry.

Once a year, I treat the wood by oiling it with a food grade mineral oil. This can be bought from hardware stores, or online retailers. 

You can find out more about how to look after your wooden chopping board by clicking on my FAQ page.

Cheese serving boards
Gin and Tonic chopping board

Personally, I think that unlike plastic, wooden boards increase in character the more they are used. If cared for correctly they can last a lifetime and even be passed down as family heirlooms.

Imagine how lovely it would be to use something every day that your ancestors used, and even to be able to see the marks made by your grandmother or mother.

When you buy a good quality wooden chopping board, you are buying a family treasure of the future, something for your children to cherish when they are grown. (Or is that just me? I have been known to get rather passionate about all things made from wood!) 

Posted by Rebecca De Jager on March 20th 2018

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