Onion, pepper, and root vegetables on a bamboo cutting board

How Do I Care For My Bamboo Cutting Board?

Bamboo is one of the best materials on the market today, as it is extremely durable and eco-friendly. In recent years, bamboo has begun to find its place in the kitchen, commonly being used for cutting boards. This is a great addition to your kitchen due to the material’s many benefits but does require a certain amount of dedication to keep the board at top-working capacity. 

If you have recently purchased a bamboo cutting board or have one in your kitchen, you may be wondering exactly how you care for your cutting board. Bamboo boards need similar care to traditional wooden cutting boards but tend to last longer. They need a cleaning routine, disinfecting, oiling, and various other care to stay as useful as possible in your kitchen. 

This article will give you the complete ins and outs of caring for your bamboo chopping board. If your board is looking less than fabulous or you are simply curious on the steps you need to take with your board, just keep reading. 

How to wash a bamboo cutting board

As with everything in the kitchen, routine washing is key to stop the spread of bacteria and germs. This is especially true if you use any type of meat on your cutting board, as improper care can lead to foodborne illnesses. Learning how to wash your bamboo cutting board is critical to keeping your family safe and to extend the lifetime of the board.

Though the material is super durable, it should never be put in the dishwasher. The heat from the dishwasher can damage the protective oil coating on the board and can lead it to become warped. You should also never oversoak it in water while washing as it can lead to warping as well. 

The best way to wash your board is after every use and should be hand-washed in warm, soapy water. Once you have the board washed, you should dry it immediately.

It is important to wash the board quickly after the use in order to avoid any unwanted staining. Use mild dish soap and a spatula to remove any food waste. 

How to clean stubborn stains

As with any wooden cutting board, bamboo boards can accumulate stains over time, but you should never use chemical cleaning agents to remove these food stains. The best way to remove any food stains on your bamboo boards is with coarse salt or baking soda. These natural agents are safe for any cutting board use.

  • Cover stains with coarse salt – You can rub the salt into the stains on your board using a wet cloth or sponge. For tougher stains, you simply add more salt and repeat until it is removed.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the stain – You can create a paste with baking soda and a wet cloth. You let the mixture sit for a few minutes then rinse the paste away. Towel dry your board immediately after. 

Deodorizing your bamboo chopping board

If you have noticed that your cutting board is still less than clean after a good washing, it may be time to deodorize. If your bamboo cutting board is a little smelly, there are some simple steps you can take to deodorize it fully and restore it to freshness. Start by sprinkling some salt on the board and squeezing half of a lemon onto the board, rubbing it across the surface.

You can leave this lemon and salt mixture on the board for at least two hours to let the mixture penetrate the bamboo. The mixture will counteract any underlying smells and will help kill them off. After allowing the mixture to sit, you want to rinse your board and towel dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

Lemon and knife to clean a bamboo chopping board

Disinfecting a bamboo cutting board 

It is also critical that you disinfect your bamboo cutting board regularly to kill off any bacteria that may have built up on its surface. Bamboo does contain mild antiseptic properties, but this does not counteract the negative bacteria that comes with raw meats, poultry, seafood, and more. To avoid cross-contamination, you should never use the same cutting board for meats and other foods. 

An easy-to-use cleaner that is known for its disinfectant properties is white vinegar. This is a natural cleaner that has antimicrobial properties. You can clean your cutting board by soaking a cloth in a solution of one-to-one vinegar and water and rubbing the cloth on the board. Once you have this mixture on the board, you can add a sprinkle of baking soda to increase the disinfectant. 

Another option is to use a hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the board, which is environmentally friendly and non-irritant. Last but not least, you can use an organic Castile-based soap which has no additives and can clean and sanitize bamboo within one step.

Overall, there are a lot of ways that you can easily disinfect the board to help reduce any bacteria growth. 

On the left, veggies on a bamboo board and on the right, meat on a bamboo cutting board
Use different bamboo cutting boards for different foods

How to season your bamboo cutting board

One reason why some chefs or homeowners avoid bamboo cutting boards is that they need to be oiled regularly to keep them in proper condition.

Up until this point, it may not seem like much to care for your board, but oiling is an additional step that needs to be taken. The problem with bamboo is that it can dry out and develop cracks if you do not use the proper oil regularly. 

Oiling your bamboo chopping board

There are a few key steps you will need to take to keep your bamboo cutting board in proper condition and safe for your kitchen. These are:

  1. Find a quality food-grade mineral oil that you can use on your board.
  2. Once or twice a month, you should apply this mineral oil to the bamboo to revitalize it and keep its shine. 
  3. Pour mineral oil directly onto the surface of the board and use a soft cloth to spread the oil over the board.
  4. Try to apply oil in the direction of the cutting board grain. If the grain goes in multiple directions, apply the oil in a circular motion. 
  5. Let the oil soak into the board for at least an hour. 
  6. Wipe off excess oil with a clean cloth and store it properly. 
  7. Repeat this process once or twice a month when your board looks dry or discolored. After several treatments, your board will be more saturated with oil and can go longer between treatments. 

Choosing the best oil

It is not recommended that you use traditional cooking oils to condition your bamboo cutting boards. These are often less shelf-stable than mineral oils and pose a risk of turning rancid with time. You should always opt for food-grade mineral oil. 

Some conditioning products sold for bamboo boards combine this mineral oil with natural waxes. This is a good option if you want to make your board more water or stain resistant. There are also more natural options out there that do not have synthetic additives. 

Restoring the cutting board surface

If your cutting board is starting to look rough and the previously mentioned steps have not restored it to what it once was, you may want to take some additional steps.

You can use a sheet of fine sandpaper in order to restore the finish of a dry cutting board. You simply rub the sandpaper over the surface by going with the direction of the grain. 

Once you have sanded as much as you need, you will want to clean off any dust and wash the board with hot, soapy water. You should allow the board to dry completely before applying a coat of mineral oil. It is important to store it properly after restoring the surface. 

Another common issue with bamboo cutting boards is that they can become warped over time. To fix a warped board, you can submerge it in warm water for a couple of hours. After removing it from the water, lay it on a flat surface and place a flat, heavy object ton top. This can help restore the shape of the board.

A person cutting onion on a bamboo cutting board on top and mix of a salad on a bamboo board at the bottom with the text in the middle: How to properly take care of a bamboo cutting board?

When to replace your cutting board?

Following all the previously mentioned steps will guarantee the quality of your bamboo cutting board for an extended period of time. However, as with all things, your chopping board may reach a point where it cannot be properly restored, and no amount of mineral oil will bring it back. This is when it is time to replace your old board with a new one.

The only true danger of using an old board is that bamboo can splinter if not cared for properly or if it is too old. This can lead to pieces entering food which is clearly something you want to avoid. Another issue is if there are several deep scratches or cuts, these can collect bacteria and pose a problem as well.

Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: James Zimmerman

One Comment

  • Absolutely love Bamboo cutting boards. I am a chef and me and the kids cook almost every meal together at some level at home. I just had to replace my board after 20 years of HEAVY usage. For me there is no better cutting board.


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