You probably have both wood and plastic cutting boards in your kitchen.
I feel both are good to have on hand!
Is one less safe to use? So is one easier to clean than the other? Which ones should I buy?
First, let's address the safety issue. Bacteria is present in our kitchen and you would naturally think that the plastic option would be easier to sanitize, just throw it in the dishwasher, right? But in reality the answer is not really. Deep grooves develop over time in plastic when cutting it with a knife and bacteria can hide there! Vegetables and fruits also carry bacteria, not just meat, fish and pork.
Wood is naturally anti-microbial. It has natural crevices, but they are deep and the bacteria is much less likely to come into contact with food. UC Davis food researcher Dr. Dean O. Cliver, explains: "Although the bacteria that have disappeared from the wood surfaces are found alive inside the wood for some time ... they ... can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other."
Plastic: To extend the life of your cutting board, hand washing with soap and water is best.
Occasionally you need to do a deeper clean. Mix 1 TSP bleach with four cups of water and use a clean sponge to scrub your board. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
To remove stains? Make a paste of 1 TSP salt, 1 TSP baking soda, 1 TSP water and scrub then rinse. Standing your board up to dry is best. If you want to remove those rough spots that develop, use a steel wool pad to scrub it or you can purchase this from a restaurant supply. The handy tool will enable you to scrap off the surface evenly.
Wood: Hand wash with dish soap and water. Immediately dry with a clean towel and stand it up to finish drying so there is even air circulation around it. If it stains, clean it as quickly as possible. If the stain is persistent, I use the scrubby side of my sponge and that removes even strawberry juice.
I suggest occasionally using some inert oil (not a cooking oil) rubbed in to prevent cracking. I rub in oil and leave it overnight, then wipe off the excess in the morning, about 1 time per month. I use this one from Ikea.
What to buy: In my kitchen I use flexible plastic cutting boards for proteins and the wood cutting board for vegetables and bread.
These are a set of 2 for only $1.99. When I see the grooves develop, I throw them away! I usually put them on top of the wood cutting board when I use it for ease of cutting.
I use a Boos block in my kitchen. It is made out of hardwood (which repels that pesky bacteria) I have linked it above, but I purchased mine at TJ Maxx a few years ago.
**Don't forget to clean that sponge too! It would be bad to cross contaminate. Throw it in the dishwasher every time you run it and you will always have a clean smelling sponge.
Overall, wood cutting boards are slightly better in my opinion, but both plastic and wood cutting boards have a place in our kitchens!