If you take more care of your cutting board and wash it properly, it will be safer for use and last you a longer time. But for cheap cutting boards and plastic ones, there will be a time when you have to throw them away – when they develop deep cut grooves that can’t be cleaned no matter how long you scrub it!
You can wash your plastic or composite cutting board in a dishwasher if it is a thick one. Thin and flexible plastic cutting mats may warp if you machine-wash them. Wood and bamboo cutting boards are not dishwasher safe. The dishwasher will damage them.
If you’re washing by hand, scrub both surfaces thoroughly with hot water and soap. If there are any stains left after rinsing, apply kosher salt or sea salt on the stain while the board is still wet. Leave it to sit for 3 to 4 hours, then rinse off. If that doesn’t do it, apply more salt to the wet board and scrub the stain off. Then wash the board with soapy water again and rinse clean.
After washing your cutting board, you need to sanitize it. Some experts recommend using a diluted bleach solution but I’d prefer vinegar. Dilute vinegar with water at a 1:5 ratio and coat the board thoroughly with it. Allow it to soak into the board by letting it sit for a few minutes, then rinse off.
Getting rid of odors
You might find a strong odor on your cutting board after cutting garlic, onions or raw meat. It doesn’t go away after washing. Use lemon juice or baking soda to scrub the surfaces of the cutting board, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse off.
Treating wood and bamboo cutting boards
Wood and bamboo cutting boards need to be treated regularly with mineral oil to prevent them from over drying and cracking. New boards need to be treated before first use.
Buy a bottle of food safe or food grade mineral oil from the drugstore, or if you’re feeling munificent, buy the specially labeled treatment oil for butcher blocks like Mystery Oil.
Warming the oil first will make it easier to soak into the cutting board. Pour a little bit of oil on the surface of the cutting board and spread it around to coat the entire board, even the sides and the bottom. The board should feel wet with oil after you do this.
Let the board sit overnight or at least a few hours, then wipe off the excess oil with a clean cloth. Rinse the board and pat dry before use.
Treat your wood or bamboo cutting board at least once a month or more during the drier seasons. If you use and wash the cutting board a lot, you might have to treat it more often too.