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Are wooden cutting boards less prone to staining than plastic ones?

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The only cutting boards I've ever used have been the plain white plastic ones. I'd like to try a wooden one, but I'm wondering how they compare to white plastic ones with respect to staining.

My white plastic cutting board has a coating of yellow/orange stain on it from cutting meats, fish, and sweet potatoes. I can get most of it out by putting paper towels soaked in a bleach solution on top of the cutting board and leaving them there overnight, but within a day or two the cutting board is back to the same level of staining as before. Are wooden cutting boards any more resistant to this type of staining?

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  1. I'm 52 and my wooden cutting board is older than I am. No stains.

    1. i love my wooden cutting boards they clean up well are kind to my knives...

      1. Hi, C_Z:

        IME, every wooden board I've had stains less than every white poly board I've used. And I've had a lot of each (Dad was a butcher).

        Part of the issue is the whiteness and part of it is the semi-self-healing aspect of the poly. Wood (even stabilized wood) is much more open, and so IMO can be cleaned more deeply.

        I have a small, old board (really a cheese/bread serving board) in vertical grain dark walnut that is particularly resistant to stains. The darkness helps hide them, too. If I were shopping for a $$ board that won't show stains much, I'd go with an end-grain dark walnut one.

        Aloha,
        Kaleo

        1. In my experience, they can both stain, but the staining on plastic boards is more severe. On top of that, many plastic boards are white, so stains readily show up, whereas staining on a wood board does won't look out-of-place.

          1. Both will stain. The only to avoid staining that I know of is to avoid putting things on them which will cause staining.

            1. Although you can stain both, a good end grain cutting board that you keep well sealed with mineral oil and beeswax will resist staining fairly well. An untreated wooden cutting board will stain quite easily. The key is to keep your wooden board oiled, then it can't soak up the liquid that stains it. It's also better for the board to be oiled than left dry.

              1. I love beets and cook with them often and they do stain everything they come into contact with. I prefer wooden cutting boards over plastic any day - better for the knives and actually have been shown to be more hygienic as far as limiting bacterial growth.
                Fortunately, beets stain brown and I could care less what the cutting board looks like as long as it is clean. I did get a flexible cutting sheet - I don't know what they are called, but you can find them everywhere - to use as almost a liner on top of my larger wooden cutting board to contain the beet juices and easily scoop up the chopped beets into a pot. That keeps the staining down and the flexibility is handy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: laraffinee

                  laraffinee,

                  I've got flexible mats, too, and want to know if you're experiencing what I am. When I use my mats on my maple island top, they give my knives a very weird feel. Almost as though there's no give to them. It's an entirely different sensation than the feel I get cutting on the maple top or my old nylon boards.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    No, I haven't experienced anything like that. My flexible mats are very thin but have been incredibly resilient. I have had them for over ten years, use them every day - run them through the dishwasher - I wish I knew where I could get them again. I got these from a fundraiser at my daughter's school over ten years ago, and although they look more yellowed and have cut marks, they are incredible. I wish I had saved the wrapper with the company name because these were a real bargain.

                    1. re: laraffinee

                      I got mine from SLT. One feature I really like is the nonskid on the back side. My nylon boards slide around like crazy if I don't put a towel under them.

                      It could be the new mats just aren't quite as soft as the nylon or my wood counter, so it's really noticeable to me. They're very thin and really flexible and except for the weird knife feel I like them a lot.

                2. All cutting boards will stain and wooden boards can be cleaned easier than plastic. Keeping a wooden board oiled on all surfaces will help to avoid stains.

                  Wood boards aren't anti-bacterial. The natural wicking action of end grain boards draws the surface moisture and bacteria to the interior of the wood where the bacterial die from a lack of moisture.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: BoardSMITH

                    "The natural wicking action of end grain boards draws the surface moisture and bacteria to the interior of the wood where the bacterial die from a lack of moisture."

                    I never knew this. More info learned on Chowhound. However, America's Test Kitchen says that end grain boards are the worst at warping although they are the best on knives.

                    1. re: Muddirtt

                      <...America's Test Kitchen says that end grain boards are the worst at warping although they are the best on knives.>

                      That hasn't been my experience at all. My first 2 boards were edge grain, in maple and oak. One split wide open from warpage, the other eventually became so concave it was no longer stable and safe to use. By contrast, my acacia end grain board is over 10 years old and still sits flat and true. It's also the texture of velvet. Mom's old teak end grain board is now being used by my son. It also sits flat, after 15+ years.

                      I don't discount ATK's conclusion, but I did see that they only revealed the wood species of their winning board, not on the losers. I think this would be helpful to know, especially as ATK notes that their winner's teak didn't absorb as much water as the other wood boards they tested.

                      Perhaps durability is equally dependent on the wood species used. Then again, perhaps my experiences are outliers and should be discounted.

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        You're very right. An excellent point that I never noticed. I'd have noticed that point if I was on my way to buying a wooden cutting board, and researching every single aspect as I do. Hopefully soon -- I'm tired of my plastic board.

                        1. re: Muddirtt

                          I'm completely over the thin plastic sheets I bought last year, as I hate the way the knife hits them...it just feels wrong. But I still have my 2 really old nylon boards, even though they're completely stained and scarred. They're great for prepping a load of beef/chicken for the grill, then we flip them over to bring the cooked meat back into the house. And the big 20x24 one can't be beat for watermelon; it's got a nice trough to catch the liquid.

                          After you get your wooden board, do a trial separation from your plastic board, but don't be too hasty to divorce it. :)

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            Oh I won't divorce it but I'll keep it stored away in a dark place while I fall in love with the new wooden board. I might take it out every once in a while to use and abuse though. lol.