Cutting boards are one of the most common sources of cross-contamination in the kitchen. Recent research has shown that cutting boards can be up to 200 times dirtier than a toilet seat. This means running the risk of infecting yourself or your family with salmonella, E. coli, or campylobacter. So, what can you do to keep your cutting boards disinfected? Bleach would kill any lurking bacteria. But, can you use bleach on cutting boards?
Bleach is quite effective as a method of cleaning cutting boards. Bleach will eliminate bacteria that soap and water frequently miss. You’ll want to create a diluted solution to reduce the chances of ill effects from the powerful chemical.
Bleach is a preferred method of cleaning and disinfecting cutting boards; however, it’s important that you use it in the right way for your cutting board. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating more problems for yourself. It would be no good to save yourself from an E. coli infection, just to die from chemical poisoning instead. Let’s make sure that you know what you’re doing.
Cleaning Cutting Boards with Bleach
What many people don’t realize is that dangerous bacteria can hide in the crevices of your cutting board. Soap and water may not be enough to kill or remove all the germs from the cutting board. In order to ensure that your cutting boards are clean and safe, you need to ensure that they are fully sanitized. Depending on what material your cutting board is made out of, bleach might be a great option.
When hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach, comes into contact with bacteria, it causes the proteins in the bacteria to unfold and denature. This eventually kills the bacteria, rendering it harmless. However, bacteria have a defense mechanism known as protein chaperone, which protects the bacteria’s more essential proteins.
The reason that bacteria have a defense mechanism against bleach is that hypochlorous acid is the same chemical that your body uses to fight off bacteria. Because of this defense mechanism, bleach takes a few minutes to work effectively. If you pour it on and then immediately wipe it off, you’re unlikely to have killed everything. Take your time. Let the bleach do its job.
Remember that bleach isn’t just harmful for bacteria. Bleach can be dangerous if it gets on your skin, in your eyes, or if you breath in a strong concentration of the fumes. Always practice caution when using bleach and use only a diluted mixture for cleaning cutting boards or anything else. We’ll go over how to safely use bleach next.
How to Clean a Cutting Board with Bleach
Using proper technique to clean your cutting boards will ensure your safety and that the board is fully sanitized. Follow these steps to safely get a sanitized cutting board.
- Prewash with liquid detergent – You’ll need to wash your board with soap and water to clean away any grime or debris. This will ensure that the entire board is exposed to the disinfectant.
- Dilute the bleach – Mix 2 teaspoons of liquid bleach with 1 gallon of water.
- Soak – Let the cutting board soak in the solution for at least 2 minutes.
- Rinse – Use hot water to rinse all bleach off the board.
- Air dry – Leave the cutting board out to dry.
What Is Your Cutting Board Made of?
When it comes to cleaning with bleach, not all cutting boards are created equal. Some cutting boards are more or less ideal for cleaning with bleach. What type of cutting board do you own? Is it appropriate to use bleach to clean it? Let’s find out.
Because wooden cutting board should not be placed in the dishwasher, bleach is the preferred method of cleaning wooden cutting boards. Additionally, fully disinfecting a wooden cutting board is particularly important because wooden cutting boards build up scratches and grooves over time that can house bacteria.
However, you want to use a slightly different method than what we outlined above. Soaking a wooden cutting board can cause it to warp. Instead of soaking in the bleach mixture, apply the solution to the board with a bristle brush, being sure to scrub into all the grooves on the board. Let it sit for about two minutes and then rinse and dry. This will allow you to disinfect without ruining your cutting board.
Plastic cutting boards work great with bleach. Bleach will not react with the plastic in any way, making it a good option. Bleach will safely sanitize the board and can even remove surface stains, making your boards look better as well. White cutting boards are particularly susceptible to stains, and bleach is great at freshening them up.
Bamboo cutting boards are popular because of their resistance to cracking, warping, or staining. From a maintenance, perspective bamboo needs to be treated similarly to wood. Avoid soaking or placing a bamboo cutting board in the dishwasher. Bleach is safe to use with bamboo, but be sure that it’s fully rinsed off.
Rubber is great because it’s non-porous and non-absorbent. This means that there’s less room for bacteria to grow and multiply. Still, you want to disinfect it regularly on the off chance that anything nasty might be growing on the surface. Bleach is a good option for rubber cutting boards as they often aren’t dishwasher safe.
Alternatives to Bleach
As we’ve discussed, bleach is a great way to disinfect cutting boards to keep them free of dangerous bacteria. However, bleach is not the only option. There are downsides to bleach. It’s a potentially dangerous chemical that some people may feel uncomfortable bringing into their kitchen. What else can you use to effectively sanitize your cutting boards?
Dishwashers are great at cleaning and sanitizing. The key component is heat. Most dishwashers hit temperatures of about 145°F. This type of heat breaks down proteins in bacteria, the same way that bleach does. High temperatures for a long enough time kills dangerous bacteria, effectively sanitizing. The dishwasher is not an option for wooden cutting boards and certain plastic cutting boards, so in those cases, bleach is a great way to go about it.
Multiple Cutting Boards
Many experts recommend using separate cutting boards for raw and ready to eat foods. This way, you have one cutting board that you know for sure is safe to use. And another one where everything that touches it is going to be fully cooked. It’s a good idea to get different colors so that you can keep them straight.
Additionally, it’s important that you regularly replace cutting boards. Because bacteria can build up in the scratches and grooves that build up in the cutting board over time, one of the best ways to keep your cutting boards bacteria free is to replace them every few years.
If you don’t have any bleach around the house, hydrogen peroxide makes a good substitute. Wipe your cutting board down with this chemical disinfectant and then rinse and dry the cutting board. Like bleach, hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and disinfects surfaces.
Keeping your cutting boards clean and disinfected is important to keep you and your family safe from foodborne illness. While there are other methods, bleach is a great way to fully disinfect your cutting boards and kill any lingering bacteria. It’s just important that you use the right process to protect yourself and your cutting board.