Ask a chef what their most important tool is, and they’ll probably say a knife. A good knife makes cooking far easier and more pleasant, but only when it’s paired with a trusty partner – the cutting board. Having a proper cutting board is important because it keeps a knife from going dull too soon.
There is really only one kind of cutting board you should buy, and that is a wooden one. The idea that plastic can be cleaned and disinfected more thoroughly than wood is wrong. Wood absorbs residual food-borne bacteria after manual cleaning with soapy hot water, but it holds the bacteria inside, where it cannot multiply and eventually dies. Studies have found that, even when a ‘contaminated’ wooden cutting board is sliced open with a sharp knife, the bacteria do not come out.
Plastic cutting boards, by contrast, can only be truly disinfected when they’re brand new. As soon as they have cut marks on the surface, which is the case for most household cutting boards, they’re difficult to clean because they trap the bacteria in hard-to-reach crevices but do not possess any natural antimicrobial qualities that can kill it.