As homeowners, we have so many responsibilities. How often do you clean curtains? When should you get your carpets washed? Do the blinds need replacing? We all know that things wear out over time, especially items in the kitchen. Plates and cups break, pans get burned, and knives get dull.
But one thing we don’t think about very often is our chopping boards. Unless they somehow break right in half, replacing them might not even be on our radar. But how often do you replace your plastic cutting board and does it even need to be replaced?
When Should I Replace My Plastic Cutting Board?
Replace a plastic cutting board once a year or when you notice visible damage such as scratches and grooves from repeated use. A damaged cutting board is hard to keep clean and will harbor bacteria.
Most people, unfortunately, keep their cutting boards too long. Replacing it ensures you are working with a safe, clean board, especially if you do not have separate boards for meat and everything else.
If you’re noticing black stains on your wooden cutting board, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to get rid of it. But you do need to learn how to clean the black stains.
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We’ll take a look at what you need to know about the plastic cutting board in your kitchen. When you’re ready to grill your next Boston butt, hamburgers, etc., you can rest assured your cutting board will be ready for the job.
Are Plastic Cutting Boards Safe?
Plastic cutting boards are safe as long as you have more than one cutting board to prevent cross-contamination. According to Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State, wood cutting boards are used for vegetables, fruit, or ready-to-eat foods (like breed). Plastic cutting boards work great for meat because of the way you wash them.
I know this can be expensive, especially if you do a lot of cooking and grilling. Don’t feel like you need to run out and buy several cutting boards today.
You can start replacing them one at a time or invest in this Faberware plastic cutting board 3-pack to make it easier for you to throw out the cutting board when you start seeing grooves.
Those are the same ones because they are low cost and BPA-free, making them great to use whenever I am grilling or cooking indoors.
How Clean Is Your Cutting Board?
It stands to reason that since you wash it every single time you use it, your chopping board seems like it would be one of the cleaner items in your kitchen.
However, that is not the case. Even though it is plastic, and even though it gets washed every time, your plastic chopping board contains about 200% more bacteria than the seat of your toilet. That is ever so slightly terrifying! Keep in mind how long you have had your chopping boards when thinking about when to replace them.
How to Clean A Plastic Cutting Board?
Most people throw their cutting board in the dishwasher. This method is fine, as long as you didn’t use it to cut raw meat and it is dishwasher safe. After all, it is easier to remove bacteria from a plastic cutting board because of the non-porous material.
It’s vital to ensure you sanitize it properly to prevent cross-contamination.
If you haven’t sanitized your cutting board in a while, you’ll want to use a dilute chlorine bleach solution. (1 tablespoon per gallon). Use a soft clean sponge that hasn’t been used for anything else to clean your board using the mixture.
Rinse the board with hot water, ensuring the chlorine solution is completely removed. Stand the board up to air dry. If you need to use it again, pat dry with clean paper towels. Here’s how the Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends you different clean types of cutting boards.
If it doesn’t come clean with a good cleaning, consider sanding it.
How Can I Keep My Chopping Board Clean?
One of the best ways to limit the spread of bacteria among your chopping boards is to keep separate chopping boards for different types of food. For instance, you want to have a separat cutting board for raw meats, poultry, vegetables, fruit, and prepared foods.
The different color chopping boards are a great way to do this. Anything that can be eaten in its raw form should have one chopping board that is completely separate from food that needs to be cooked to be consumable, like meat, fish, and poultry. I’ve created a table below to help you set up a color coding system like the professional chefs do.
The primary reason for this is because raw meat carries bacteria that humans can not safely ingest without getting sick. If you chop up chicken for dinner, don’t clean the mat, and then chop up your salad on the same mat, you are consuming the raw chicken bacteria along with what was a healthy salad.
Here’s how to clean a knife after cutting raw chicken, to help you with your kitchen hygiene.
To keep your boards extra clean, you can use a disinfectant on meat chopping boards. You can also use lemon juice to remove anything juices or stains from fruits and veggies. Also, using hot water when washing the chopping boards will help kill any remaining bacteria as well.
How to Make A Plastic Cutting Board Last Longer?
Opt for a high-density polypropylene (i.e. plastic) as it has similar properties to wood. This makes it easier to keep them clean and can be purchased in several colors.
Making it easier to use a color coded system for different tasks. Set up a color coding system in your kitchen, here’s how mine is set up.
|Green||Fruits and vegetables|
Also, make sure you’re using the right knife for the job!
Which Chopping Board Is Best to Use?
While it seems that plastic ones are the safest to use and will last the longest, one isn’t particularly better than the other. The plastic ones can be cleaned very thoroughly, with some even being able to be thrown into the dishwasher.
They are even easier to keep clean and safe if you keep separate mats for meat and fruits and veggies. The wooden chopping boards, on the other hand, can also be disinfected thoroughly. Still, bacteria can also fall into the cracks in the wood where it will eventually die and not fester.
Because plastic is not knife proof, it will become scarred as you use it. This means the knives will leave scars and dents on the chopping board. While you can throw the board in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize it, bacteria can still get trapped in these scars.
Unlike a wooden chopping board where the bacteria will fall into a fissure and die, the bacteria on a plastic chopping board can fester and grow. Cleaning regularly helps, but only so much.
When in doubt or you start noticing grooves in your plastic cutting boards, it’s time to throw it out. It’s cheaper to replace them than to risk contaminating your food and making your family sick.
Overall, use separate chopping boards for raw foods and foods that need to be cooked and keep the boards as clean as possible. This will prolong your plastic chopping boards’ life and limit the frequency of your need to replace them!