By Daniel Urmann

Researchers have found that bacteria have a tougher time surviving on wood cutting boards.

However, plastic cutting boards are less porous than wood, making it less likely to harbor bacteria over a long period of time, but only if it is immediately cleaned. Here are a few tips to caring for your cutting board.

1. First, inspect your chopping board for signs of mould or pests. A chopping board that’s old or has been left in dark, damp conditions might be harbouring all sorts of nasties. If your board has small holes dotted randomly across it, it could be a sign of woodworm or termites. If this is the case, you should get rid of the chopping board by burning it and keeping it away from other wooden items in your house, otherwise, the pests could spread. If the board is badly damaged, it’s a good idea to get a termite treatment service to treat your whole house. A badly damaged chopping board is a sign of a large infestation that may have spread to other rooms.

2. If your board is in otherwise good condition and free from pests, start by applying conditioning oil. It is best to apply the oil slightly warm and with a soft cloth in the direction on the grain. Warming the oil allows it to penetrate deeper into the wood. “Season” your board by applying mineral or butcher block oil and letting it soak into the wood for 15-30 minutes. Apply 4-6 coats before using the board.

3. Oil your cutting board when it looks dry, sometimes as frequently as once a week. If you allow your board to become dry it may begin to crack.

4. Scrub and wash your cutting board with soap and water but don’t immerse it completely in water. In addition, don’t put your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher because it will warp the wood.

5. Spraying vinegar on your cutting board with a spray bottle is a good way to sanitize it. Using bleach on a wood cutting board isn’t a good idea because it is not as effective because the organic composition of wood neutralizes the disinfectant quality of bleach.

Daniel Urmann is a contributor and author for the website Vermont Cutting Boards. []