A butcher block countertop can be functional, affordable, beautiful—not to mention a dream for home cooks. And, guess what—contrary to what you might think, butcher block countertops are easy to clean and maintain with simple, natural products that won’t harm the wood.
Natural cleaners use ingredients that are healthier and safer all around the home. Let’s dig into what the best natural cleaners are for butcher block countertops and how you should actually clean these unique counters correctly.
Do butcher block countertops hold bacteria?
Maintaining butcher block countertops is essential in order to limit any bacteria that might be inclined to make their home in the wood. Scratches to the surface and damage to the seal are two main factors that allow bacteria to breed and live—right on your countertop, yuck.
But that doesn't mean butcher block countertops aren’t sanitary … they are just as clean as any other countertop, as long as you’re using the right cleaners and cleaning them correctly.
Quick tip: Do not prepare raw meat directly on your butcher block. This will help you avoid extra bacteria that is potentially dangerous. It’s best to deal with raw meat on a plastic cutting board as they can easily go right in the dishwasher when you’re done.
How often should you clean butcher block countertops?
The best bet is to clean butcher block after each use. Load up your natural cleaning solution in an easily accessible spray bottle next to the counter so you can grab it and do a daily cleaning each evening after a full day of meal prep.
For a deep clean, consider piling and resealing your countertop once a season (at least once a year).
What are the best cleaners to use on butcher block?
To clean butcher block, you can use a number of products, including a natural multi-surface cleaner or a DIY solution with natural products you have at home.
All-natural cleaners that are safe and effective to clean butcher block include:
How to clean a wooden butcher block: Step-by-step instructions
To get your butcher block countertop clean, free of bacteria, and to help it last longer, follow these 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Wipe away debris
Before bringing in any cleaning solution, wipe off any extra debris or crumbs with a cloth or using your scraper.
Step 2: Prepare your natural cleaning solution
After getting off that debris, grab your all-purpose cleaning solution (or create it by mixing together hot water and a few drops of liquid dish soap).
Step 3: Wipe, rinse, repeat
Use your sponge to wipe the cleaning solution around the entire surface of your butcher block.
Once you’ve gotten every last inch of it covered with cleaner, rinse with your sponge and wipe off the cleaning spray with water. Rinse and repeat until the solution is gone.
Quick tip: When applying the cleaning solution, spread along the wood end grain (not against it).
And if you’re more visual, take a peek at this video to see it in action.
How do you sanitize butcher block?
You most likely only need to sanitize your butcher block counters once a week.
To start, grab an empty spray bottle and add distilled white vinegar or pick up a premade bottle of natural cleaning vinegar that has even more sanitizing properties.
Spray the vinegar on the entire surface and leave it for at least 10 minutes. Then, wipe up with a dry microfiber cloth.
To go for an even deeper clean and to remove stains or spots, create a mixture of 1 cup lemon juice and ½ cup salt.
Apply the lemon juice and salt mixture to the stained areas, rub in, and wipe away when dry.
How do you remove water stains from butcher block?
Water stains can happen with a butcher block. The #1 tip is to make sure no excess water lingers on your butcher block, to begin with. Butcher block is sealed and can withstand water most of the time, but as it wears down, the water can easily infiltrate and settle into the block.
To remove water stains from butcher block, you can use a food-grade mineral oil or beeswax. Use this oil regularly to maintain and keep the block sealed and also use it to attack stains from water or food.
For even tougher stains, try sanding them down with sandpaper and then conditioning that spot with your mineral oil.
Conditioning your wood regularly (usually once per week when the counter is new, and then once per month once it’s worn in a bit) will keep your countertop in its best condition and able to withstand whatever cooking mishap or miracle you throw its way.