Cutting boards come in many varieties, but the two basic are wood and plastic. Care and maintenance for each type of board is different depending on the material used to make the board.
Wood Cutting Boards
Coat the board in mineral oil. It is best to do this upon purchase. Warm (NOT hot) oil works best. Let it soak in and apply additional coats if necessary. This acts as a sealant for the wood to prevent bacteria from getting in. It also prevents the wood from splitting. Avoid using vegetable or olive oil, as they have a tendency to turn rancid over time. Mineral oil should be reapplied after prolonged use. Depending on how often you use your cutting board, this time could vary. When the wood starts to look lighter, re-coat in mineral oil.
Avoid submerging in water when cleaning. Soaking or submerging often leads to water damage. The board should be cleaned with warm/hot soapy water and then dried immediately. Make sure the board is completely dry before storing.
Store in a dry place in an upright position. Moisture makes your cutting board a breeding ground for bacteria. Humidity can also warp your cutting boards over time. Storing upright prevents moisture from staying on the board. Cutting board racks are perfect for storing boards in the proper position.
Brush it clean when not in use. By keeping it clean, you can retain the life of your peel. Crumbs, melted cheese and sauce can collect on the peel and will make the surface uneven.
Avoid bleach. While you want your board to be clean, hot soapy water should do the trick. Wood has an adverse reaction to bleach, so avoid using it. A vinegar solution (3 Tbsp per cup of water) can be used to knock out odors caused by foods like onions and garlic. » See all Wood Cutting Boards
Plastic Cutting Boards
Clean with warm soapy water. Most plastic cutting boards are nonporous, which means that bacteria will not seep inside the board. Despite this fact, it is still very important to clean the board after each use. Plastic cutting boards are more stain resistant than wood cutting boards.
Avoid the dishwasher. Though plastic boards are generally dishwasher safe, the water in most dishwashers is hot enough to warp a plastic board.
Store in a dry place in an upright position. After cleaning and patting dry, hang the board or stand it up to dry. This prevents the retention of moisture and thus prevents the build up of bacteria. » See all Plastic Cutting Boards
When to Replace
If your cutting board does not lay flat when used as a cutting surface, you run the risk of injuring yourself while cutting. Once a cutting board warps and can no longer lay flat, it is time to replace it.
Keep an eye on the condition of your cutting board. If it starts to develop deep cuts in the wood or plastic, it is time to replace the board. The deep cuts and nicks are a breading ground for bacteria. While the steps above will increase the life of your board, it is still important to replace boards when needed.