How to Clean Butcher Block In 3 Steps

Cleaning butcher block counters and cutting boards couldn’t be easier. All you need are a few household staples to remove dirt, disinfect, and keep your butcher block in tip-top shape.

Butcher block is a durable surface, but since it’s wood, it can dry, crack, and scratch if you use harsh cleaners or don’t oil the surface. The cracks in the wood can harbor germs and bacteria, which makes daily cleaning an important chore.

How to Clean Butcher Block

Here’s the best (and easiest) way to clean your butcher block countertops without damaging them.

What is Butcher Block?

Butcher block is a thick wood cutting surface made of several strips of wood glued together. It gets its name from the wooden cutting areas in butcher shops. It’s a popular material for residential countertops and cutting boards.

The most common wood species for butcher blocks include Walnut, Teak, and Sugar Maple. 

If you use butcher block as a food prep surface, you need to apply a food-safe oil every couple of months to protect it from stains and scratches.

How to Clean Butcher Block: Step by Step

Avoid using harsh cleaners on your butcher block countertops. You only need dish soap, water, and a soft cloth to keep them in good shape. Here’s the best way to clean butcher block.

Step 1: Knock Crumbs Off the Surface

Use a paper towel to knock off crumbs. If there’s food stuck on the surface, use a silicone spatula to scrape it off.

Step 2: Wipe the Butcher Block with Dishsoap and Water

Fill your sink or a bowl with warm water and add a couple of drops of dish soap. Dip a sponge or soft cloth in the solution and wring out the excess moisture. Wipe the countertops.

Step 3: Wipe Again to Rinse

Dip a sponge or soft cloth in water and wring out the excess moisture. Next, wipe your butcher block countertop to rinse off the remaining soap.

Dry with a fresh towel.

How to Remove Stains from Butcher Block

Wood is a porous surface. So, when the oil top coat wears down, the exposed wood can soak up liquid resulting in stains.

The best way to remove butcher block stains is to bleach them with lemon juice and salt. Here’s how.

  • Mix table salt and lemon juice (fresh or bottled) until you have a thick paste
  • Apply the paste to the stain
  • Allow it to sit overnight
  • Wipe away the following morning

How to Oil Butcher Block

There are many products you can choose from to oil your butcher block countertops. One of the most common is food-safe mineral oil. It’s affordable, easy to apply, and leaves a matte sheen.

If you want a shinier look, opt for a butcher block conditioner that contains wax. The wax will fill in minor scratches and leave the surface glossy.

To apply mineral oil to your countertops:

  • Clean your butcher block
  • Apply a coat of mineral oil by spreading it on the counters with a soft, lint-free cloth
  • Wait 30 minutes
  • Apply a second coat
  • After 30 minutes, use a fresh cloth to wipe off excess oil

To apply a butcher block conditioner to your countertops:

It’s essential to follow the directions on the bottle of your butcher block conditioner. Some brands require you to sand your countertops before use, while others don’t.

These are the general steps you’ll take.

  • Clean your butcher block
  • Sand the surface (if required)
  • Wipe the conditioner onto the butcher block with a soft, lint-free cloth
  • Wait 30 minutes and wipe away excess

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How do you disinfect butcher block?

You can disinfect your butcher block by adding one teaspoon of bleach to one quart of warm water. Dip a cloth in the solution, wring out the excess, and wipe the surface. Wipe again with water to remove the bleach.

Can you clean butcher block with vinegar?

It’s okay to clean or disinfect your butcher block with vinegar on occasion, but it’s not something you should do often. Vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid, which can eat through the top coat and cause the wood to warp.

How much does butcher block cost?

The average butcher block costs $30-$40 per square foot, not including installation. But higher-end varieties like maple and cherry can cost as much as $200 per square foot.

What’s the best butcher block cleaning spray?

Try Dawn Powerwash as a daily butcher block cleaning spray. It works the same as dish soap and water, only in a more convenient spray bottle.

Final Thoughts

Butcher block countertops go with many styles ranging from country to modern. Despite being a porous surface, butcher block is easy to clean. All you need is mild soap and water. 

The most important step to prolong your butcher block is to oil it as needed. Adding oil or conditioner helps the wood repel liquid rather than absorb it.