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Dec 18, 2006 05:46 PM

Bamboo cutting board maintenance?

What is the best way to clean and maintain bamboo cutting boards? Right now I just wash them by hand and let them dry on the rack. Are bamboo boards dishwasher safe? Do I need to treat them with mineral oil like regular wooden boards? Can you sand them down if the knife marks get too prominent?

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  1. I think that dishwashing would be just as bad for bamboo as for maple. You do need to treat them with mineral oil, and given the fact that they are harder than maple boards, I generally--particularly during the initial oiling--use extra oil and time to ensure that it thoroughly penetrates.

    1. I'm going out today to buy oil for my bamboo board. What do you use to apply it?

      1 Reply
      1. re: annimal

        I use my hands. A clean (non terry cloth) cotton towel or paper towel would probably work fine.

      2. I have found it best to wash them with soap and water, dry quickly with a good tea towel & apply mineral oil generously with a paper towel once a month or so. I leave it out for a few hours and do one side at a time to make sure that it absorbs in very well.

        1. I'm either lazy or forgetful, but I oil my boards and standalone chopping block every 10 years, or whenever I read something like this which reminds me to do it now...

          Seriously, though - I cook all the time, and they have all held up well with gentle handwashing. A few years ago, though, I added some flexible synthetic cutting boards for chicken, seafood, and other meats so that I can throw them in the dishwasher. This combo system works well.

          1. I picked up my Bamboo cuting board at Salvatin Army ($1.50) gave it a light sanding (100 grit) ,coating of Baby oil ( mineral oil at 1/5 the price) and never stop chopping

            7 Replies
            1. re: GOPS

              I would use mineral oil at pharmacy stores instead of baby oil. It is slightly cheaper than even baby oil and it is more fragrance chemicals. I don't think baby oil is technically food-safe.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yes, don't use baby oil unless you're sure it's food safe. Most baby oil has fragrances at the very least in addition to mineral oil.

                You can get food safe mineral oil cheap at a drug store. Like this ($2.49 for 16 oz):

                as opposed to this which is the same but with a fancy band and more expensive ($8.49 for 8 oz):

                or this, which is baby oil and has fragrance added and clearly says for external use only:

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I just re-read this and realize it makes very little sense. I meant to say: Mineral oil is slightly cheaper than baby oil and it does not have fragrance and other chemicals.

                  *Edit* I am clarifying my previous statement.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Sorry if my post was confusing. Mineral oil is good for bamboo cutting boards. You can buy special mineral oil sold by food specialty retailers. Or, you can save your money and buy the same stuff sold at drug stores. Just make sure it says that it is food grade or safe for consumption. If it is labeled as intended as a laxative it is safe to consume.

                    Do not buy mineral oil that is labeled as baby oil, even if it is fragrance-free because it is not manufactured under conditions that make it safe to consume.

                    I hope this makes sense.

                    1. re: taos


                      No, you make perfect sense. I were clarifying my previous statement on "Apr 29, 2010 01:18PM ". Thanks.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Just to clarify something, but when they say to apply mineral oil every day for a week for your cutting board, does that mean you do that for a week and after that you can start chopping on it?

                        Or, does it mean you can start chopping like normal that first week while you're oiling the board?

                        And, after that first week, you only have to put mineral oil on the cutting board once a month, right?

                        1. re: hobbess

                          In practice, I'm sure you can do either with good results - plenty of people don't oil their cutting boards at all and don't experience any problems (though some who don't experience cracking and warping). That said, ideally you don't use the cutting board for the first few days, cuz that would necessitate washing/rinsing, and the point is to keep water out of your board until it's loaded with oil.

                          The 'oil every day for a week' advice is a little misleading IMO. It depends on how you apply oil and also the thickness, porous-ness, and dryness of your board. If you wipe oil on with a rag, then a week is about right (but it still depends). If you drizzle the board with oil like you might a saute pan and then spread it evenly with your fingers and let the board soak it up (that's what I do), 7 applications is too much. The point is to apply enough oil that the board doesn't readily soak it up. You don't want to apply so much that the board is completely saturated and won't take any more - the board will ooze oil/feel oily in use. I load up a new cutting board over the course of a couple days with multiple drizzlings and stop when the drizzlings start taking a while to soak in.

                          After that, once-a-month applications should be fine.