Why Do Plastic Cutting Boards Smell?

Plastic cutting boards are usually preferred over other cutting boards due to their non-porous surface, making it easy to cut raw meat. Additionally, these boards are easy to sanitize and replace due to their cost-effectiveness. But after some time, these cutting boards start stinking badly.

Why do plastic cutting boards smell?

The regular cutting of vegetables and raw meat on your plastic cutting board leaves deep grooves that start stinking. These grooves are a place for many bacterias to hide and then start giving a foul odor. Another reason can be the odor of the stuff you cut on your cutting board, like garlic or meat. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about your plastic cutting board and its sanitization.

Why Do Plastic Cutting Boards Smell

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Does Plastic Cutting Boards Smell Matter?

Why does my cutting board smell? The smell depends on the type of plastic and how it has been used and cared for.

Some plastics can absorb odors, particularly when used for cutting strong-smelling foods such as garlic or fish. Regular washing and sanitizing will help reduce odors on plastic cutting boards.

Can Onion and Garlic Cause a Bad Smell on a Plastic Cutting Board?

Yes, when you chop onions or garlic on your plastic cutting board, it causes it to smell terrible. When you cut garlic or onion on the plastic board, it releases an enzyme known as alliinase on the board.

This enzyme changes alliin and allicin, a sulfur-containing molecule that leads to a pungent and heady odor. Plastic usually absorbs the smell, so it starts stinking when you cut garlic on the plastic board.

The same goes for onions; when we cut them, the sulfur-containing molecule thioalcohol causes the odor.

How to Get Onion Smell Out of Cutting Board?

Here are the steps on how to get onion smell out of plastic cutting board:

  • Scrub with baking soda: Spread baking soda on the cutting board and scrub it in with a damp cloth. Use clean water to rinse and a towel to dry.
  • Rub with lemon: Rub a lemon on the cutting board with each half. The acid in the lemon can help get rid of the smell of onions.
  • Use white vinegar: Use a cloth soaked in white vinegar to massage the cutting board. This will aid in neutralizing the onion odor.
  • Place in the freezer: Another way is to put the cutting board in a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer overnight. This will kill any bacteria that might be making the smell.

Do Plastic Cutting Boards Retain the Smell of Dishwashing Detergent?

Plastic is a material with a great tendency to absorb the odors from its surroundings due to its composition. So, when you wash your plastic cutting board in the dishwasher, there is a chance that your board might start stinking like the dishwashing detergent after the washing.

The dishwasher detergent has harsh chemicals, leaving a strong smell on the board. The article includes a solution to eliminate any odor from your plastic cutting board, so scroll down and try the mentioned methods.

Try this set of plastic cutting boards.

Can You Resurface the Plastic Cutting Board? 

If your plastic cutting board has scratches, then another way to remove them is to resurface your cutting board with sandpaper. Most chefs do this, and the cutting board looks as good as new.

Plastic cutting boards resurfacing give them a new surface free of scratches, and you do not need to throw them away. The scratches on the cutting board are home for bacteria to hide, so resurfacing the board prevents these bacteria from building up on your cutting board. 

Resurfacing a plastic board is a great way to sanitize it properly, so you should resurface your plastic cutting board after a while when cleaning does not seem to help it. The plastic cutting board should be replaced if it is very old and resurfacing does not solve the problem.

Are Plastic Cutting Boards Unsanitary? 

The plastic cutting boards are not unsanitary; they are considered more sanitary than wooden ones because they are ultimately easier to clean and sanitize.

But cutting on plastic cutting boards cuts grooves that get deeper with time, and bacteria hide in these grooves leading to the unsanitary of the plastic cutting board.

So, it would be best to sanitize these boards properly to avoid contamination and unsanitary due to bacteria. If you do not clean your cutting board regularly, it will contaminate your food, thus, leading to foodborne illness and other stomach issues.

Try this set of Kikcoin plastic cutting boards.

How Do I Stop My Plastic Cutting Board from Smelling?

Several reasons can cause your plastic cutting board to start stinking, and it develops a nasty odor of the food you cut on it or a pungent smell.

How to stop plastic chopping boards smelling? It would be best to clean the plastic cutting board adequately, or your food will also start absorbing this smell. Here are a few methods to stop your plastic cutting board from smelling:

  • Try squeezing a lemon on your cutting board surface and spread a good amount of salt on the lemon juice for an intermediate odor. 
  • Then scrub the solution with the halve of lemon thoroughly and leave the solution for 5 minutes.
  • The acidity of salt and lemon would absorb the odor from your cutting board.
  • Another method is to apply a paste of baking soda, salt, and vinegar and scrub with a sponge. Leave for 10 minutes, and then rinse.

Plastic Cutting Board Cleaning Tips

The plastic cutting board is the central part of our kitchen that regularly has the most food contact, so it has to be the most cleaned and sanitized thing in your kitchen to avoid contamination or foodborne illness. 

Cleaning Tips:

  1. For regular cleaning of your cutting board, try using warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge.
  2. If you have not washed your cutting board for a while and it has scratches and spots, then try using baking soda along with vinegar. Make a paste, apply it to the cutting board, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes; scrub with a soft sponge and then rinse with warm water.
  3. Try vinegar and essential oil mixture for cleaning; take a few drops of essential oil and mix them in half-cup vinegar and 1 cup water mixture. Spray the solution on your cutting board, scrub with a plastic bristle brush, and then rinse with warm water.
  4. For proper cleaning and sanitizing, try these things overnight, and the results will amaze you. After leaving lemon juice on the cutting board for a whole day, combine one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in warm water for overnight treatment. Then rinse and clean with regular dishwashing liquid.

Make sure to check our guide about are plastic cutting boards bad for knives.

Care Tips When Using a Plastic Cutting Board

There are a few care tips that you should always follow if you want to extend your cutting board life shelf and for its proper usage:

  • Never use the same cutting board for your fruits, vegetables, and raw meat, as it will cause cross-contamination in your food. Use separate cutting boards differentiated by colors for meat and veggies.
  • Let the cutting board dry appropriately before storing it; otherwise, it will soak the water and can cause the board to stink.
  • Replace it immediately when you feel deep grooves, discoloration, and scratches on your cutting board.


Your plastic cutting board starts smelling due to the bacteria that hide in the deep grooves of the board. There are many methods for properly cleaning and sanitizing the plastic cutting boards mentioned above.

The smell is a sign that your cutting board is unhygienic. When your plastic cutting board smells terrible, you need to wash it and allow it to dry completely because the water soaks into the board and makes it smell. 


How to Get Garlic Smell Off Wooden Cutting Board?

You can rub the board with a cut lemon or a vinegar and salt mixture, then place the cutting board in the sun for a few hours to help erase the smell.

How to Resurface a Plastic Cutting Board?

How to resurface plastic cutting boards? To resurface a plastic cutting board, you will need a few supplies. First, you will need a plastic scraper or fine-grit sandpaper. Next, you will need a plastic-safe cleaner, such as a mild dish soap and water solution. Finally, you will need a plastic-safe oil, such as mineral oil or coconut oil.

Why Does My Cutting Board Smell?

How to remove onion smell from cutting board? If cutting boards are not properly cleaned and dried after each use, odors may develop. On the board, bacteria can accumulate and generate an unpleasant stench.

When Should I Replace a Plastic Cutting Board?

When plastic cutting boards get significantly scratched or exhibit symptoms of wear and tear, they should be replaced. Additionally, it is essential to replace plastic cutting boards that have gotten soiled or discolored.

How to Remove Onion Smell from Plastic?

To eliminate the onion smell from plastic, first, rinse it with cold water. Fill a basin halfway with white vinegar and soak the plastic in it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse the plastic with cold water and air dry it. If the odor remains, repeat the procedure.

How to Get Onion Smell Off Plastic Cutting Board?

To remove the onion smell from a plastic cutting board, first wash it in hot, soapy water. After rinsing the board with hot water, sprinkle it with baking soda. After scrubbing the board with a sponge or brush, rinse it with hot water. Finally, spritz the board with white vinegar and rinse it with hot water.

How to Get Smell Out of Cutting Board?

You can use baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice together to get rid of the smell on a cutting board.

How to Get Onion Smell Out of Bamboo Cutting Board?

How to get rid of onion smell on chopping board? By using a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar, you can eliminate the onion smell from a bamboo cutting board.

How to Get Garlic Smell Off Cutting Board?

How to remove garlic smell from cutting board? You can scrub a cutting board with a mixture of baking soda and water or a paste of baking soda and vinegar to get rid of the smell of garlic.

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