The Truth About Wooden Cutting Boards

Sep 11, 2019 | Cooking Tips, Kitchen Gadgets

For years we have been told that plastic cutting boards are more sanitary and safer than wooden ones. In professional kitchens, pretty much all wooden boards have been replaced by plastic and have been for years. But why? Is there any truth behind this or is it all just perception? Are plastic cutting boards really safer than wooden ones?

Let’s get into it.

Wooden cutting boards vs. Plastic Cutting Boards

Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I only use wooden cutting boards. Specifically, AshWurks Cutting Boards. I use them for cutting vegetables, preparing fish, even for meat and poultry. People often question me on this. The assumption being that it is unsafe to use wooden boards, especially for meat, poultry, and fish. But is it true?

Plastic Cutting Boards

As I said in the introduction to this post, plastic cutting boards have pretty much completely replaced wooden ones in restaurants. But why?

Well, a few decades ago health departments all over the place decided that because plastic isn’t porus it must be a safer material for cutting boards than wood. Now, in all honesty, this may be true if we are talking about brand new cutting boards. But the problem is that a plastic cutting board doesn’t stay brand new for long.


Plastic is softer than wood and easier to cut into. This means that pretty much every time you use your knife you are leaving little divets in the plastic. These divets are next to impossible to clean and are havens for bacteria. Not to mention where are those little pieces of plastic going?

One of the touted benefits of plastic cutting boards is that they can be put in the dishwasher. Yes, it is true that wooden cutting boards should not be put in the dishwasher, or even submerged in water. But, is that really a problem? Dishwashers tend to leave people with a false sense of security. The assumption is that when something comes out of the dishwasher it is clean. I think we all know that isn’t always the case. And I can say that I have seen countless plastic cutting boards come out of commercial dishwashers with bits of chicken and fish still stuck on them. If a commercial dishwasher can’t do the job properly do you really think the one in your kitchen can?


One of the main selling points of plastic cutting boards is that they are not porous. Bacteria can’t penetrate the surface of the board. And yes, like I said, it is true as long as the surface is completely smooth. But this non-porous surface creates another issue, mold.

When it comes to plastic cutting boards it is vitally important that they be very dry when being put away. Surface moisture has nowhere to go and will cause mold growth. Drying the surface of a plastic cutting board doesn’t seem like that big of an issue until we go back and think of those little divets in plastic again. They collect moisture as well as bacteria and that leads to mold growth.


Now, you may be saying, but Ben, I can just bleach a plastic cutting board to prevent mold growth. Yes, you can bleach plastic cutting boards but how often do you really want to do that? And, will that bleach be able to penetrate those tiny divets and kill off the bacteria that live there?

Pros and Cons of Plastic Cutting Boards.

Let’s start with the pros.


  • Non-porous
  • safe when brand new
  • can be bleached
  • can go in the dishwasher
  • light
  • easy to store
  • cheap


  • non-porous so moisture can collect causing mold growth
  • soft material easily cut into creating ideal conditions for bacterial growth
  • little bits of plastic end up in the food
  • don’t really come that clean in the dishwasher

Wooden Cutting Boards

The biggest arguments against wooden cutting boards are the biggest arguments for plastic ones. Wood is porous, it can’t go in the dishwasher, etc. But, do these arguments hold water?

The Thing About Wooden Cutting Boards

Wood is porous.

The biggest argument against wood is that it is porous meaning it will absorb moisture. Well this is true, is it actually a problem? The answer unsurprisingly is no. Here’s why, wooden cutting boards, mostly end grain boards are often oiled with mineral oil which is absorbed into the pores of the wood effectively preventing them from absorbing too much moisture. Even if the board isn’t oiled its porous nature isn’t a problem because even though this allows the wood to absorb moisture it also allows it to dry properly.

What about bacteria?

What about bacteria on wood? Multiple studies, including this one, have shown that wood actually displays antimicrobial properties. What that means is that wood actually kills microbes and bacteria or at the very least prevents them from multiplying. Plastic doesn’t do this.

You can’t put wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher.

It is true that wooden cutting boards shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher. The heat will melt the glue that holds the board together and can even warp the wood. But does it really matter if a wooden cutting board can go in the dishwasher or not? No. It doesn’t. If you were to take two cutting boards, one plastic, one wooden, and rub them with e coli then wash the plastic in the dishwasher and the wooden one by hand with soap and hot water, the plastic one would have more e coli on it after cleaning than the wooden one. So, does it really matter that the wooden board can’t go in the dishwasher? I don’t think so.

What about mold?

Mold isn’t really an issue with wooden cutting boards because they are porous. Moisture will be absorbed into the wood where mold can’t grow. And wood drys much more efficiently than plastic. Think of it this way, a wooden cutting board is essentially a living thing. It breathes, it changes with the weather, it’s alive. A plastic cutting board is dead. There is no life in it. It doesn’t breath or change. So, ask yourself this, is mold more likely to grow on a living thing or a dead thing?

The downside to wooden boards.

There are a few other arguments I have heard against wooden cutting boards that I think it is important to mention here.

Wooden cutting boards are big, heavy, and difficult to store.

This is all true. But here’s the thing, a good quality wooden cutting board can be left on the counter all the time and will become a showpiece of your kitchen. There is no need to move it around or store it.

Wooden cutting boards are difficult to clean.

Fales. All you need is some hot soapy water and a dishcloth. Just don’t submerge the board in the water.

Wooden cutting boards are difficult to maintain.

There is a bit of effort involved, sure. But oiling the board with mineral oil once every few weeks will prolong its life and make it even more beautiful than it already is and it takes like two minutes.

Wooden cutting boards are expensive.

Define expensive. Yes, a couple of hundred dollars may seem like a lot to spend on a cutting board but think of it as an investment. If you treat that board well you will have it for the rest of your life. Imagining that you’re 30 and you’re going to live for another 30-40 years, that couple of hundred dollars works out to be a few dollars a year. You should be replacing plastic cutting boards every year which is $15 – $20 a year. Plus with wood, you have something that can turn into a family heirloom.


I think my stance is pretty obvious, I much prefer wooden cutting boards to plastic ones for every use. But, don’t take my word for it, do a bit more research and see for yourself.

If you are ready to invest in a beautiful wooden cutting board check out my friends over at They sponsor my facebook cooking show but more than that they make beautiful handmade wooden boards right here in Nova Scotia. They are the only boards I use and one look at them will tell you why.

I hope that you enjoyed this post if you did please share it and remember to subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, I almost forgot, I wasn’t able to post on Monday because we didn’t have the internet due to Hurrican Dorian. Other than losing some food out of the fridge and power and internet being down for a few days we made out pretty well. There are still lots of people in the province that don’t have power so we got off pretty lucky. But, things are back to normal for me and hopefully, they will soon be for everyone else.

Today on the blog we are separating fact from fiction and getting to the truth of whether plastic or wooden cutting boards are better.


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