How to clean plastic cutting boards

Today’s post, how to clean plastic cutting boards is a direct result of yesterday’s post, How to cut a pomegranate.  After cutting that pomegranate I got distracted, and I left the cutting board with the super staining pomegranate juice for a few hours. You can see that all of that bright red juice crept into the knife grooves in the board, and they just wouldn’t come out with plain old scrubbing.

Below are the photos of what I started with.  The ultra red stain is before any washing at all.  You can see the glob of Dawn soap in the middle before I scrubbed it.

IMG_6696 IMG_6700 So that began my mission of figuring out how to clean plastic cutting boards.  I found lots of resources for cleaning a wooden cutting board, but there just weren’t very many for the plastic ones.

How to clean plastic cutting boards

My first attempt was a failure.  I tried:

  • 1 Tbsp of Dawn dish soap
  • 2 Tbsp of vinegar

I scrubbed the mixture into the plastic cutting board but I was disappointed with the results.  Maybe I was supposed to let it sit for longer?  But with this attempt, there was zero change.

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For attempt #2, I tried using hydrogen peroxide. I poured the peroxide directly onto the cutting board, scrubbed it in as best as I could and let it sit for 20 minutes.  I was expecting some kind of improvement, but there was no change.  I don’t know if it was my eyes playing tricks on me, but the stains almost looked worse!

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I was really hoping to clean my plastic cutting boards with a nice natural and gentle method, but nothing was working.  So it was time to pull out the big guns:

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This was actually the first time I had ever even purchased bleach, so I am not experienced with using it at all.  I was extremely nervous about how it would work.

How to clean plastic cutting boards tutorial

For attempt #3 I used:

  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup bleach
  • 4 litres (1 gallon) of hot water

I filled the sink with the hot water first, and then I added the bleach.  I didn’t measure exactly because I didn’t want to pour bleach into my good measuring cups.  Then I swished the water around using the cutting board and let it sit in the mixture for about 20 minutes.  Even just sitting in the sink I could see a HUGE improvement.

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It motivated me to pull out my other cutting boards, which, embarrassingly, were 10 times worse than this one was!  I have no idea what stained my big cutting board so badly, but yuck!!!

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Check out how gleaming white my freshly cleaned cutting board looks next to the stained one above!

I made the executive decision that all of my cutting boards needed this cleaning.  (It wasn’t a difficult decision).  So into the bleach mixture they went.

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There was a great improvement after all of my plastic cutting boards sat in the bleach for about 20 minutes, but they weren’t as gleaming white as the first cutting board that I cleaned.

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You can see in the photo above, that the stain faded a lot, but it’s still clearly visible.

I don’t know a lot about bleach, but I thought maybe if I freshened up the sink of bleach that it would have better results.  So I emptied out the first bleach mixture and started again with about 1/2 cup of bleach and 4 litres (1 gallon) of hot water.  I let them sit for about half an hour this time, and I got great results!

After letting them sit I scrubbed them with soap and water until they didn’t smell like bleach anymore.  And then I ran them through the dishwasher, just to be sure all the bleach was gone.

Here are a few of the before and after shots:

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You can see the huge improvements for yourself in the before and after photos above!  The really badly stained one still has some traces of the stain left, but it’s so much better than the terrible before photo!

Most of my cutting boards are gleaming white again.  I thought I was going to have to throw out all my cutting boards and invest in new ones, but it turns out a little cleaning made them as good as new!

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  • Stephanie

    THANK YOU for posting this! We’ve been eating more tomatoes recently and now I have lovely red stains on all 3 of my cutting boards and knew that there was a way to clean it, but I wanted to get it right the first time. ;-) So thank you for going through all of the different tests, very informative!