Post-meal cleanup can be an arduous task, but taking care of your cutting board is rarely seen as the most challenging part of the process. Often, people simply rinse the surface with hot water and give it a quick scrub with some dish soap before drying and putting it away. But this isn’t the best way to handle the job.
Traditional dish soap is somewhat lacking when it comes to removing bacteria left behind by raw meats, especially on the cold surface of a cutting board. Using hot water isn’t enough to bring the cutting board up to the right temperature to ensure these disease-causing microbes are properly managed. In these cases, you need something stronger to get the job done.
Now, dish soap is perfectly fine for pots, pans, and dishes, where you are generally dealing with cooked foods on the surfaces. As long as the meal was brought up to the minimum temperature required to kill bacteria, and it is eaten before the temperature falls back into the danger zone, you should be fine.
For example, FoodSafety.gov lists the safe internal temperature for ground beef as 160° F while chicken breasts need to reach 165° F. At those temperatures, all disease-causing bacteria should be destroyed.
Cutting boards are generally exposed to raw ingredients, such as uncooked steak or pork. When the meats contact the board, including the juices, it can transfer bacteria onto the surface. Since cutting boards are often scratched when knives are used to cut the food, it can also allow dangerous microbes to get below the surface.
To help ensure that all of the harmful bacteria is killed during cleaning, your best bet, according to a report by Insider, is to first scrub the surface and then soak the cutting board in a water and bleach mixture after each use. After the soak, it is also important to dry the cutting board completely before putting it away.
The sanitation process should be followed after every use of your cutting board, regardless of whether it is used solely for fruits and vegetables or for meat as all foods can potential harbor bacteria. Also, avoid using the same cutting board that was used to cut meat when you cut fruits and vegetables, as you risk cross contamination.