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Chopping Boards

Last Updated Dec 2, 2010 · Written by Craig Gibson

Chopping boards are an essential part of any kitchen, but it is important to keep them clean and well-maintained in order to ensure that they remain safe and healthy to use.  Here are our tips on how to best clean and maintain chopping boards.

General Chopping Board Tips

There are some general tips that are useful for cleaning and maintaining chopping boards, no matter what type you opt to use:

  • Never put ready to eat food such as salads, breads, or fruits, on a chopping board that has had raw meat on it previously, unless it has first been washed thoroughly.
  • Always prepare meat on a separate chopping board where practical.  Ideally, chicken, seafood, and red meats will be prepared on different boards.
  • A small chopping board for garlic and onion is a good idea, as these are strong flavours which may seep through other foods.  Plastic is best as it is less likely to absorb odours.
  • Colour code your chopping boards – this can be done using coloured string around the grip or by using different colours of plastic.
  • Glass and marble chopping boards look fantastic and are very hygienic but they will quickly dull your knives.  They are best used as presentation boards.
  • Store chopping boards in a rack.  This will allow the air to freely circulate around them.

Maintaining Wooden Chopping Boards

Wooden chopping boards do require special cleaning and maintenance to keep them in top condition.  Never put your wooden chopping board in the dishwasher as the water and the heat will cause the glues to deteriorate.  Hot water will also cause cracks to form in the board and these become the idea place for bacteria and odour to enter the wood.

Wooden chopping boards should be scrubbed after use with hot, soapy water, before rinsing them, wiping them off and allowing them to dry completely.  A paste of baking soda and water can clean and deodorise a wooden board, while bicarb soda and lemon juice is a fantastic way to remove stains and disinfect boards.  It is enough to physically scrub the board as wood has been proven to be naturally antibacterial.  Just make sure that nothing remains on them and that they are cleaned straight away.

The board should be oiled monthly using a neutral vegetable oil such as grape seed oil or olive oil.  This will keep the board in good condition.  Always replace boards that have visible cracks as the cracks retain both food and bacteria.

Plastic vs. Wood Chopping Boards

There has been debate over whether plastic or wooden chopping boards are better.  Both types of boards are safe if they are cleaned properly.  In fact, the major concern when it comes to chopping boards is cross-contamination – when raw food containing bacteria comes into contact with cooked or ready to eat food.  This is why separate chopping boards for raw foods are recommended.

Wooden chopping boards have been proven to be more hygienic than plastic chopping boards due to the fact that wooden boards have a natural tannin in them that acts as an anti-bacterial agent.  They are also less likely to dull your knives.  When using plastic chopping boards, the blade of the knife can create a feathering on the surface, and the bacteria can get caught in these crevasses.  Once they are there, there is no way of removing them. 

However, the advantage of plastic chopping boards is that they can be placed in the dishwasher, where the hot rinse cycle will kill bacteria.  If you don’t have a dishwasher, scrub the board thoroughly with hot, soapy water, before rinsing and allowing to dry.  To clean and deodorise a plastic board, use one teaspoon of bleach to one litre of water.  Saturate the surfaces of the board and allow to stand for five minutes before rinsing and drying.


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