I love my wooden cutting boards. Because they were once growing things rather than a slab of plastic made of petrochemicals, I tend to believe the studies that say wood is superior. This is a personal bias, of course. There are pros to using either.
Seriously, though – how cool is this: Wood is porous, so there’s a wicking process which draws bacteria inside the wood, leaving the surface germ free. Then on top of that, wood has natural antimicrobial properties which then self-clean both the interior and exterior of the board. In other words, the wood that was once alive is, in a way, still alive and kicking bacterial ass.
I like that.
However, it needs to be a wood other than white ash or maple. For some reason those particular woods don’t have that anti-microbial thing going on.
Plastic, on the other hand, is dishwasher safe and therefore very easy to thoroughly sanitize. Putting a wooden cutting board into the dishwasher will flat-out ruin it. Restaurant kitchen have to use plastic cutting boards for this reason.
Scrubbing a wooden cutting board with hot, soapy water cleans it very well, but if you’re still worried, slice a lemon in half and swipe it over the surface. The acid in the lemon will kill more germs than bleach. Or if you don’t have a lemon, or don’t want to use it, you can also wipe the board down with cider vinegar.
Do not leave wooden boards soaking in water, though. The porosity that allows the wood to wick away bacteria will also make it soak up water. Soaking it in water will make it dirtier, not cleaner.
And allow your cutting board – wooden or plastic – to dry completely. In the absence of heat and moisture any remaining bacteria will die within a few hours.
Finally, wooden cutting boards need a little love on occasion. I wipe mine down with olive oil, but any edible oil will work. The dry surface soaks it up, knife marks are reduced, and the grain of the wood really pops.
Functional AND gorgeous!