How to Clean and Maintain Your Bamboo Cutting Board – From a Real Life Mom of 5 Kids

Photo Credit: Jennuine Captures Photography via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jennuine Captures Photography via Compfightcc

A bamboo cutting board is an excellent kitchen companion in more ways than one.
Not only is bamboo an eco-friendly material, it is a sustainable alternative to wood or plastic cutting boards.
Bamboo is becoming more popular because it fights bacteria naturally — and if that isn’t a plus, I don’t know what is!
At Lazer Designs, we get a lot of people asking about the best way to clean and maintain their bamboo boards.  Is it okay to use bleach?  Can you put it in the dishwasher?  We have the answers!
Once you have your bamboo board — or if you’re already reaping the benefits of bamboo — here are some tips on how to maintain the magic.

What Happens in Real Life:

As a stay-at-home mom of 5 kids 6-years-old and under, I’ll tell you what you SHOULD do for best care, and what I sometimes do when the girls hanging on my legs. What Happens in Real Life.

Preparing and Maintaining Your Bamboo Cutting Board

  • Before using your bamboo cutting board for the first time (I know, it’s so hard to wait!), coat it lightly with mineral oil.  This will help seal the board and keep anything from seeping in.
  • Reapply the mineral oil once a month if you only use the board occasionally, or once a week if you use it more often.
  • Apply enough to coat the entire board with a thin coat
  • Apply the mineral oil to the cutting board with a soft cotton cloth–no sandpaper allowed!
  • Once the oil is applied, let the cutting board rest for about 20 minutes.  Then remove excess oil.  Perfecto!

(Mineral oil is recommended because continued use of vegetable or grain based oils can cause the board to become rancid.)

What Happens in Real Life?

Often I just wash a new cutting board, but I do try and give it a light coat of oil before or after first use. On the boards I didn’t do this on, they seem to be fine.
The thicker the board, the less likely to warp and crack over time of not being oiled. I often use olive oil or cooking oil since it is already on the counter.

But where do I find mineral oil?

Head over to your local pharmacy or big box store’s pharmacy department and look in the laxatives area. Or buy it on Amazon.
Other oils you can use include beeswax and carnauba. See Bamboo Goo on Amazon for a mix of oils.

How often should I oil my board?

Try once a month, though you may find that if you use your board every day and the finish is looking dry, you’ll need to increase those oil sessions.
We have heard some people say they only do it seasonally (4 times a year), but that means the board really needs it by the time we oil it.

What Happens in Real Life?

Sometimes I have time to oil my cutting board. About as often as I have time to clean my laundry that’s piling up in various rooms.
I would love to oil my boards every month – in reality, I get to it around every season – 4 times a year. Results? On higher end and thicker boards, like Totally Bamboo boards, I don’t see any impact and have had the same board for 8 years. On thinner or non-brand name boards, sometimes they will warp a tad, which usually works itself out (see below) or isn’t enough to bother me.

Cleaning Your Bamboo Cutting Board

  • After you use the board, wash it with a mild detergent and warm water.  Give that bad boy a nice little bubble bath.
  • Wipe the cutting board dry immediately after washing.
  • Do not let liquids pool on the cutting board for more than a few minutes, or they could start to seep in and stain.
  • Do not put your bamboo cutting board in the dishwasher. (unless you have a dishwasher safe cutting board)
  • Do not soak your bamboo cutting board in water or any other liquid.
  • Do not put the cutting board in the microwave, convenient though it may seem.

What Happens in Real Life?

Don’t let liquids pool on the cutting board? Hah! You should see the liquids I deal with every day.
I know I know, I shouldn’t let it sit… sometimes it happens, and if I was cutting strawberries it leaves a nice red mark if I don’t wash it right away.
I wash with soap once everyone is down for nap. Unless I am down for a nap. Or when I get to the dishes. The strawberry stains don’t always come out with that wash, but do on the next 2 or 3 washes next time I use the board.
(see below for some tips on getting stains out)

My cutting board has warped! What do I do?

No worries! It is possible to flatten that once-flat cutting board – just get it wet, place it on a flat surface, and put a heavy pan, pot or large baking dish on top.
It should flatten out within a few hours (or up to 8 hours). Some people say to put a wet towel on top of the board (under the baking dish). You may want to oil it again once done, since we just got it wet.

What Happens in Real Life?

I’ve never had a board warp so bad I couldn’t use it – but I have … encountered…. or caused …. boards to warp by not washing/drying right away. To me, keeping the kiddos happy is more important than an-always-flat-board, and they usually work the warp out over the next week (the cutting boards, not the kids).
Solution? Gift or buy a thicker board! 3/4″ boards don’t warp, just the 1/4″ ones. Thicker boards are quite a bit heavier. I still prefer the thinner ones.

Oops! What if I already got a stain on the board?

Not to fear. Not only are veggie stains not a hazard to our health, but they can be removed to get your bamboo back to its original glow. The solution? Salt!
Use a sponge to rub coarse salt over the board, focusing on the stain, then rinse and dry the board.
If there is also an odor that goes along with the stain, you can get rid of it with a paste of baking soda and water. Just rub the paste over the board, rinse, and dry!

Disinfecting/Sanitizing Your Bamboo Cutting Board

It is recommended that you do not use your bamboo cutting board with meat, poultry or fish.  The bamboo is porous and the bacteria from the meat can be absorbed by the board.
Can you imagine fish and chicken juices soaking into your cutting board?  Yikes!  So, it’s probably better to keep your cutting board on a vegetarian diet.
If you do decide to use it for meat anyway, it’s best to keep one board specifically for meat, and one for vegetables. You don’t want your veggies getting contaminated by meat juice, especially if you’re eating the vegetables raw.
In any case, you must sanitize the cutting board properly:

  • Sanitize your cutting board if it comes in contact with raw meat–every time, without fail or excuse.
  • To sanitize, use a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide, bleach, or vinegar, according to your state food inspector’s recommendations.
  • If you go with the vinegar solution, the recipe is 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water.  After each use for meat, use a sponge to rub the solution into the board.
  • Rinse the board completely after sanitizing, and it will look good as new.

What Happens in Real Life?

I find it easier to use a glass cutting board for cutting my meats so I don’t have to worry about the fuss of sanitizing. I focus on sanitizing 4 sets of fingers instead (6 if you count mine and my hubby’s).
If you take good care of your cutting board, it will give you a lifetime of rewards in return.
If this seems like a lot of work, don’t worry about it!  Once you and the bamboo get into a routine, it’ll be like second nature.  Plus, taking care of your cutting boards this way will help them last for years and years.

What Happens in Real Life – Summary

I don’t see caring for bamboo as that much extra work – as you can see from my notes above. But I do prefer it (lighter, easier to handle, quieter cutting) to the alternatives.

Bottom line that I do with decent results:

  1. Wash it with the other dishes
  2. Let it air dry with other dishes
  3. Oil it once a season.

Happy cooking!

Now, with all of bamboo’s splendid pros in mind, and now that you know how to take care of your purchase, go out and buy yourself and your friends (hint: Awesome wedding gift) a good-lookin’ engraved bamboo cutting board and enjoy all the benefits.

If you haven’t picked one out yet and you’re not sure where to start, look no further!  And if you have any more questions about how to maintain your board, we’re always happy to help.


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