How To Care For Butcher-Block Countertops

Five easy ways to give this hardworking surface some TLC.

Idea House Kitchen
Southern Living. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

As rustic farmhouse and cozy cottage style have swept Instagram, the popularity of butcher block countertops has been on the rise. It's an affordable, durable, and sustainable countertop option with a wide range of colors and styles to choose from—what's not to love about it? Butcher block is made by gluing several pieces of wood together. Though classic, stone countertops can sometimes make a space feel cold and standoffish. Thick slabs of walnut and mahogany will instantly warm up a kitchen, making it the most inviting room in a home. Read on for five easy ways to take care of your hardworking butcher-block countertops.

1. How To Clean And Sanitize

Cutting directly on the surface is convenient, but it will leave stains. Lightly scrape off any stuck-on residue with a spatula, and then use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean with mild dish soap and water. Next, it's time to sanitize. Combine equal parts water and equal parts white vinegar in a spray bottle; spray it over the surface and wipe it down with another damp cloth. Cleaning and sanitizing the surface should be done daily.

2. How To Condition

Over time, butcher-block countertops can lose their luster and look dull and dry. Give them a refresh with food-safe mineral oil or butcher-block conditioner (available at home improvement stores). Don't use a food oil, like olive or vegetable oil, which will oxidize on the surface and start to smell. Start with a clean countertop, and then pour on the mineral oil, spreading it over the surface with a cloth. Let it sink in and dry for an hour. Then apply another coat. Condition butcher-block countertops every few months to restore their natural sheen.

3. How To Minimize Nicks And Scratches

Butcher-block countertops are basically built-in cutting boards. You can chop fruits and vegetables directly on the surface. (For sanitary reasons, slicing meat, poultry, or fish should probably be done on a cutting board.) Inevitably, knives will cut nicks and scratches into the surface. Remedy the wear and tear by lightly sanding over the blemish. Then clean the area and apply mineral oil to buff the restored area.

4. How To Repair A Crack

If there's a large crack in your butcher-block countertops, call a professional. If it's a small hairline fracture, you can repair it yourself. Apply a food-safe wood glue over the crack, and let it dry. Sand down the excess dried glue, and then clean and condition.

5. How To Avoid Mold And Rot

Butcher block is a porous surface. Protect against mold and rot by wiping up puddles of water as soon as you notice them. Wood also expands and contracts when it gets wet, so if avoidable, pass on surrounding your kitchen sink with butcher block. If you do, make sure the edges are thoroughly sealed.

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