How to Clean a Butcher Block: Best Tips and Products!

Latest posts by Erin Jamieson (see all)

Butcher blocks are practical, a great way to upgrade your kitchen, and very much in style. But a great kitchen renovation can turn into a kitchen nightmare if you don’t know how to clean a butcher block.

The importance of keeping your butcher block clean can’t be overstated. While cleaning your butcher block will create a more inviting atmosphere, the issue isn’t about aesthetics. Failing to clean a butcher block properly can lead to unsightly stains and, more importantly, pose safety hazards with the accumulation of mold.

An astounding 70 percent of households have mold. And while obviously, that mold can come from a myriad of sources, one thing you might not think about is your kitchen.

Mold can exacerbate allergy, hurt the value of your home, and is especially concerning for children under the age of 5. While it’s true some molds are more dangerous than others, preventing it from occurring– and taking care of the problem quickly– is your best bet.

Luckily, your butcher blocks never need to be a part of the problem. By cleaning your butcher block regularly and properly, you can retain its original value and keep your kitchen safe and clean.

I’ll tell you how to clean a butcher block, from what products to use to what to avoid. From stains to everyday cleaning and even mold, here’s how to take care of your butcher block.

Are Our Butcher Block Countertops Sanitary?

Are Our Butcher Block Countertops Sanitary

The good news is that butcher block countertops can be sanitary and excellent investments– but it all depends on how you use them and treat them. It also depends on how they’re bought– unfinished or finished and sealed.

Can You Leave the Butcher Block Unfinished?

Many people buy unfinished butcher blocks, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Buying a butcher block unfinished gives you the freedom to seal and stain it yourself.

If you know what you’re doing, it’s possible you can also save some money. But what you don’t want to do is leave it unfinished. I recommend finishing it as soon as possible, and before you use it.

What Happens if You Don’t Seal the Butcher Block?

The risk of not sealing your butcher block is that it’s not going to last long– and may even cause substantial damage and health problems.

Without sealing with mineral oil, polyurethane, or plant-based oils, moisture will absorb in the pores of the wood unevenly. In addition, unsealed butcher blocks can warp and crack and are more likely to acquire other issues related to everyday use.

What is the Best Way to Clean Butcher Block Countertops?

What is the Best Way to Clean Butcher Block Countertops

Of course, the most important thing to do as you use your butcher block is to clean it. But there are better– and worse– ways to go about cleaning.

The best rule of thumb is to clean immediately after use. When you do so, you’re reducing your risk for foodborne illnesses and even stains. Here’s how you should go about it, depending on your main objective.

How Do You Sterilize a Butcher Block?

The good news is that wood is resistant to bacteria– but that doesn’t mean you should leave it as is. You still need to disinfect it, especially if you’ve handled raw animal products.

You can either use a cleaner or mix white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the entire surface, allow the substance to soak for five minutes, and then gently wipe away with a cloth.

How Do You Deep Clean a Butcher Block?

Deep cleaning a butcher block may be necessary from time to time– and is especially needed if you haven’t kept up with daily cleaning. Start by gently scraping away dirt, crumbs, or anything else solid. Use a specialized cleaner and apply with a damp sponge. Use the sponge to scrub down the counter.

Make sure that the sponge is clean when you begin. If you’re working on a large space, you may need to rinse out your sponge or use a second sponge. The sponge should be soft but firm.

How Do You Get Mold Off of Butcher Block Countertops?

Mold, of course, is a different issue. While normally you should not use bleach on your butcher block countertops, unfortunately, this is an exception. If you opt to not have it professionally cleaned, you’ll need something stronger than your everyday cleaner to vanquish mold.

Make a solution of water and bleach in a bucket. You must use a 1:1 ratio so that you don’t damage your counter. Wearing gloves, use a soft sponge with the solution to remove mildew or mold stains.

However, to make sure the mold is gone, you do need to leave a water and bleach solution on the surface for 12 hours (overnight).

How Do You Get Water Stains Out of a Butcher Block?

One of the most common types of stains on a butcher block is water stains. These usually occur when the butcher block was either not initially sealed, or was not sealed properly.

You also need to seal your butcher block around once a month as a follow-up. But assuming you have water stains, the good news is that you can remove most of them.

Make a solution of 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to one cup of warm water. Apply the solution with a soft sponge or cloth. After covering the stain and allowing it to soak, dab it gently with white vinegar. Not all stains may be removed, but this should take care of some of the worst stains.

What Cleaner Can I Use on the Butcher Block?

What Cleaner Can I Use on the Butcher Block?

Now that you know how to properly clean your butcher block, you may want to invest in some products. From everyday cleaning products to conditioners and kits, here are some of my top recommendations. These products are all meant to keep your butcher block clean and protected.

For each category, I’ve selected products made by experts, with quality ingredients. Every product is intended for use on butcher blocks, no matter what type of wood you have. For each category, I’ll also explain the purpose of the product and how it should be used.

Butcher Block Conditioners

One area many butcher block owners neglect is conditioning. Butcher block conditioners are important for maintaining the appearance and health of your wood. These are applied to finished butcher blocks and should contain a combination of mineral oil, beeswax, and/or carnauba wax.

This is handy for wood cutting boards as well. Over time, butch blocks become dull. Conditioners can be applied around once a month, or as needed, to improve the appearance and add moisture.

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner Clear Food-Grade Mineral Butcher Block Oil

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner Clear Food-Grade Mineral Butcher Block Oil

One of the most highly recommended conditioners, you’ll find Howard’s product recommended at almost any home improvement store.

The conditioner combined USP grade mineral oil with authentic beeswax and carnauba wax. Revitalize your wood with food-grade quality materials, complete with a beautiful natural-looking satin finish.  It’s an economical choice for most. Priced at $9.99 for 12 ounces; Buy Here.

Handmade Butcher Block Conditioner

Handmade Butcher Block Conditioner

This handmade conditioner is about as natural as you get. Get the conditioner you need without filler ingredients. Just two ingredients, beeswax, and mineral oil make up this product. Food safe, this conditioner supports a small creator on Etsy. Priced at $8 for 4 ounces; Buy Here.

Butcher Block Conditioner with Organic Beeswax

Butcher Block Conditioner with Organic Beeswax

Armani Fine Woodworking is one of the most respected Butcher Block specialists, and their signature conditioner doesn’t disappoint. This premium quality conditioner exceeds FRDA regulations for food-safe materials, with food-grade mineral oil and all organic wax.

Made in Colorado to optimize care and shine, it’s the same conditioner that they use on the butcher blocks they sell. Priced at $13.95 for 8 ounces, with a money-back guarantee; Buy Here.

John Boos Butcher Block All Natural Beeswax Moisture Cream

John Boos Butcher Block All Natural Beeswax Moisture Cream

Want a moisturizing cream that you can use on just about anything–including cutting boards? This easy squeeze bottle is a general moisturizer that can be used on any wooden material.

The thick cream is made with unbleached beeswax and food-grade mineral oil, designed to add a protective barrier, with an easy spread application. The set includes 3 5-ounce tubes for practical use, priced on sale for $34.95. Buy Here.

Butcher Block Household Cleaners

These cleaners aren’t just any cleaners. Used for everyday cleaning, these cleaners help keep your butcher block sanitized and looking its best. They’re usually oil-based.

Mineral and walnut oil are best for most wood.  You want to look for scent (if desired) and food-safe ingredients. While pure conditioners are typically more solid or wax-like, these are liquid and can be used daily.

12 oz. CalFlor Food Grade, Single, Butcher Block Cleaner

12 oz. CalFlor Food Grade, Single, Butcher Block Cleaner

This butcher block cleaner protects and cleans for everyday use. Effective for cutting down on grease and stains, this cleanser moisturizes and cleans.

The mineral oil is enriched with Vitamin E to fight off bacterial growth and is certified Kosher. Organic soaps help clean and keep you safe, with no harmful chemicals. This is even safe to use on toys. Priced at $23 for a 12-ounce bottle; Buy Here.

CLARK’S Butcher Block Oil – Orange and Lemon Scent

CLARK'S Butcher Block Oil - Orange and Lemon Scent

If you’re looking for an economical choice that you can have on hand for a long time, this option might be right for you. Featuring a fresh lemon and orange scent, the conditional mineral oil is food safe and prevents drying and cracking. You also won’t have to worry about it going rancid.

Powerfully antibacterial, this conventional choice can be used as an everyday cleaner. One gallon is priced at $48.95; Buy Here.

Culina All Natural Butcher Block Countertop Cleaner

Culina All Natural Butcher Block Countertop Cleaner

This cleanser removes stubborn sticky spots and reduces odors. Just a teaspoon can help clean and restore the natural look of your butcher block. Made with natural lemon oil and Culina wood wax, with all ingredients based in the United States and priced at $13.99 for 8 ounces; Buy Here.

Butcher Box Care Packages

Not sure where to start? Sometimes a bundle of products is the way to go. Most care packages include all you need, from conditioners to daily cleaners and even instructions.

It may be a good idea to start here if you’re new to owning a butcher block. You won’t necessarily save money, but it can help you navigate the first few months. These also are excellent for housewarming gifts.

Boos Oil & Cream Butcher Block Total Care Package

Boos Oil & Cream Butcher Block Total Care Package

From the esteemed Butcher Block company, this total care package will get you started with a new butcher block. The total care package includes a 16-ounce bottle of oil, a 5-ounce bottle of moisturizing cream, and an applicator that you can use in place of a sponge or cloth.

All materials are certified food safe and include mineral oil, linseed oil, and orange oil for cleaning and a fresh scent. Natural unbleached beeswax acts as the main moisturizer. This kit is highly rated by consumers and priced at $55; Buy Here.

CLARK’S Complete Care Kit – Orange & Lemon Scent

CLARK'S Complete Care Kit - Orange & Lemon Scent

This set is a complete start to taking care of your butcher block. You’ll receive board soap, oil, and finishing wax, along with an applicator, all for $55.95.

The soap is a Castile-base designed to kill bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. The oil prevents drying, cracking, and warping, and the finishing wax protects and restores.

Meanwhile, the applicator is shaped to comfortably fit inside of your hand for everyday use. The set also includes a buffing pad and scrub brush. Even better, the soap is organic and the citrus scents fight odors. Buy Here.

Howard Butcher Block Care Set

Howard Butcher Block Care Set

The popular brand sells a set of care products, perfect for maintaining any butcher block. The set includes 12-ounce bottles of cleaner, conditioner, and mineral oil.

Today, the materials clean, polish, moisturize and restore. You don’t have to worry about safety, as all products exceed the requirements set by the FDA.

The UPS , food-grade mineral oil never goes rancid and is odorless. The beeswax and carnauba wax provides water resistance and moisturize without any harsh or artificial cleaning agents. The set is also equipped with an applicator. Priced at $30.85, with free shipping; Buy Here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How Do You Make a Butcher Block Waterproof?

Answer: While not entirely waterproof, the best way to avoid water damage and water stains is to seal your butcher block. This should be done before use, and you should apply oil again about once a month.
Apply food-safe oil to a cloth and allow it to settle for 15 minutes. Buff the oil, wait a whole day, and then repeat the process two more times.

Question: How Do I Protect My Butcher Block?

Answer: The best way to protect your butcher block is to seal it initially and then seal it about once a month. Regular cleaning can also prevent issues. If you’re working with raw meat or seafood, place a plastic cutting board instead of cutting directly on the butcher block.
Moisturizing your butcher block prevents warping, cracking, and splintering. Even if you don’t heavily use your butcher block, warping and cracking can naturally happen, so all forms of care are important for getting the most out of your counter.

Question: Can You Clean the Butcher Block with Vinegar?

Answer: While professional cleaners are best for everyday use, sometimes you run out. Vinegar can be used for regular cleaning if done so carefully. Mix equal parts water and vinegar and spray over your counter. This won’t work for deep cleaning, but it can disinfect your butcher block.
Just make sure not to apply only vinegar directly on the counter, and it’s best to invest in a professional cleaning agent that’s designed to disinfect. Most butcher block cleaners contain some form of food-safe oil, which also moisturizes as you clean.

Question: How Do You Clean an Untreated Butcher Block?

Answer: In an ideal scenario, you shouldn’t use a butcher block before it’s been treated. However, if you are working on an untreated butcher block, you should proceed with caution. Start by gently scraping away any dirt, crumbs, or other food particles. Use gentle dish soap or a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.
A wet sponge can be used to scrub. Scrubbing along the grain of the wood is the best way to ensure you’ve cleaned completely. Always remember to rinse your sponge as needed. After you’re done, consider treating your butcher block so that it lasts longer.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to properly clean and care for your butcher block is essential. Not only will you improve the durability of your butcher block, but you can also sidestep unsightly stains, damages, or even mold issues.

Start right by sealing your butcher block, then take care of it daily and you’ll get the most out of your purchase.

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