A common question that often comes up with home chefs is, “Should I put my cutting board in the dishwasher?” .
The short answer is: no.
The long answer is that there are proper ways of cleaning your cutting board, which depend on the type material the cutting board is made out of. Here’s the list of common cutting board types and how to clean each of them:
Wood Cutting Boards (maple, oak, cherry, walnut, etc)
By far the most popular material for cutting boards, most wooden boards are either made up of glued flat grail or end blocks of wood. The main reason you should never place a wooden board into your dishwasher is that the prolonged exposure to heat and water will cause your cutting board to warp and crack. Not only will it be difficult to chop on a warped board, but cracks are a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and other microbes that feed on trapped food particles and water.
The safe and proper way to clean a cutting board is to wash it like any regular dish, using plenty of hot water (the hotter, the better), soap and mechanical scrubbing (aka “put your elbow into it!”). If the board has been exposed to raw meat, then after you’re done washing, use a sanitizing solution of 1 part vinegar, 4 parts water and wipe the board down, then pat dry. If you want to be extra sure, then the USDA Recommendation is to soak your board in a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water for a few minutes, then dry it with paper towels.
The key is to make sure to keep your board dry when not in use, as bacteria cannot grow without water. If you have a prized walnut and maple cutting board or even just a battered plank of pine wood, keeping it dry will also prevent it from cracking, so don’t let it soak in the sink along with your other dishes even before you are going to wash!
Plastic Cutting Boards
The major benefit of plastic boards are that you can put plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher, as they will not warp or crack (minus the thin plastic sheets). This is actually the recommended method for plastic cutting boards, as there is generally more knife scarring with plastic boards, which lead to more nooks and crannies for bacteria to hide in.
The other option if a dish washer isn’t available or preferred, is to clean with hot water and soap as usual, then dunk your board in bleach or vinegar sanitizing solution for a few minutes. Unlike a wood board, you can leave your plastic board in for as long as you want, though 5 minutes is probably all you need to make sure that it’s properly sanitized.
Glass Cutting Boards
Similar to plastic, glass boards can also be put into the dish washer, given that glass is a tough material that will not warp. That said, we at CuttingBoard.com always feel impelled to mention the fact that glass cutting boards should be for decoration or light use only, as your knife blades will eventually become dull if used against glass boards.
Bamboo Cutting Boards
While most people lump bamboo boards along side wood (hint: bamboo isn’t technically considered a wood), bamboo cutting boards do behave mostly the same way as wood. Bamboo boards are made using a special method that requires a fair amount of glue and pressure treatment to flatten the bamboo, which in turn makes them especially vulnerable to the heat and water inside a dish washer. If you put a bamboo board in the dish washer, don’t be surprised if you eventually need a new one.
That said, bamboo cutting boards are extremely tough and dense otherwise compared to most hardwoods, so a little bit of TLC with a bamboo board will go a long way!