Butcher blocks were all the rave a few years ago, and for a perfectly good reason. Nothing adds warmth and beauty to a kitchen like a butcher block countertop. It provides a high-quality work surface on which to prepare your meals and makes you the envy of your friends and neighbors.
While so many homeowners were investing in this beautiful addition, many were unaware of how to maintain their butcher block. When maintaining your counter top, it’s important to use the right tools and materials to minimize the risk of damaging it. Keep in mind that proper maintenance depends on the finish that your butcher block has.
One of the most common finishes for butcher block countertops is oil. Here are a few maintenance tips to follow if your countertop has this kind of finish.
Clean Off Your Countertop Right Away
After a busy day of cooking, it’s tempting to leave the cleaning for later, or even the next day. Waiting may be acceptable for pots, pans, and dishes, but not for your butcher block countertop. Over time, odors and stains will penetrate the wood and make cleaning more difficult. If spills or messes occur, clean off your countertop right away. This is especially true for stain-causing liquids like wine, berry juice, etc.
Always Have Food Grade Mineral Oil on Hand
It’s recommended that you occasionally refresh your countertop with a good cleaning and a fresh coat of oil. Cooking oils like olive, corn, and canola are unsuitable for this process because they get rancid. Instead, use food grade mineral oil for your butcher block countertop. When purchasing mineral oil, ensure that “food grade” is displayed on the label. If it doesn’t, don’t use it on your countertop.
Lemons, Salt, and a Dough Scraper Are Essential Tools for Countertop Maintenance
When cleaning your butcher block countertop, one of the first steps should be to lightly scrape the surface with a dough scraper to remove any material sticking to the countertop. Using a long straight edge and light pressure minimizes the risk of gouging the wood.
The acid and scent of a half-lemon and the abrasive quality of the salt form a powerful cleaning tool. This combination can remove stains, odors, and bacteria from your countertop and leave your kitchen smelling fresh and clean.
Sandpaper Is the Tool of Last Resort
Over time, your butcher block countertop will show wear and tear from everyday use and may have a few stubborn stains or marks that just won’t go away. For these tough marks, sanding may be the best option to remove them. Before doing so, be sure to try other less-abrasive methods first.
When sanding your countertop, start with 80 by 100 grit sandpaper and gently wipe the surface. Don’t apply too much pressure, as you risk defacing the countertop further. If necessary, work your way up to 220 grit sandpaper if the mark won’t disappear with lighter sandpaper. Wipe the wood with a damp cloth in between sandings. After sanding, be sure to apply plenty of mineral oil to prevent further stains.
Care for Your Butcher Block Countertop
Just like any other part of your home, your countertop requires regular attention and care. With proper maintenance, your butcher block countertop can last a lifetime. Use these four tips to help keep this part of your kitchen looking great for years to come.