How to keep your cutting boards germ-free

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A soapy dishcloth alone just doesn’t cut it when it comes to effectively deep cleaning your favorite chopping block.

Coarse salt and a good scrubbing, or a long soak in bleach and water are effective ways to clean cutting boards, according to Kara Winterrowd, sous chef at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Plastic boards are a hands-down winner for Winterrowd, ending or at least easing the simmering family debate between those who cannot give up their wood carving boards for plastic.

How to clean your cutting boards

“I highly recommend using a plastic cutting board for all raw meats and fish.   Wood is porous and may harbor bacteria in its cracks and crevices.

“It’s best to have two cutting boards; one for fresh produce and herbs and one for raw meats and fish,” said Winterrowd.

“To effectively clean a cutting board, I like to sprinkle coarse salt on the board, and then scrub with a brush.   This will help remove stains and odors and will penetrate any nicks or cracks in the board.   Then rinse with hot, soapy water.”

Winterrowd also recommends cleaning with white vinegar or “to get a deep clean on your plastic boards, use one cap of bleach in one gallon of water and let the board soak for about an hour.   Rinse and air dry.”

So, wood or plastic?

The government is staying out of that debate, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture echoes Winterrowd’s recommendation for separate boards for produce and raw meat or seafood to avoid cross-contamination.

Cleaning can be accomplished with hot, soapy water and a good rinse and air dry. Or use the dishwasher, even for solid wood boards. To sanitize, the Agriculture Department also favors soaking the surface with a solution of water and bleach, followed by a good rinse. When a board, wood or plastic, becomes worn or develops deep grooves which can harbor bacteria, it should be replaced.