Those who possess butcher block counter tops in their kitchens are often concerned with how these tops should be properly maintained. While wooden counter tops are designed to handle fairly robust activity, stains and dirt can and do show up—but only if the top is not cared for properly. There are simple methods you can implement into your daily cleaning routine which will provide proper butcher block counter tops care.
What happens to your counter top over time?
Your butcher block counter top is most often used for slicing and chopping food in preparation for a meal. Most of these ingredients are raw when you process them and raw meat—especially raw chicken—can pose a health risk if care is neglected. This is especially true because of cut marks in the wood. Bacteria tend to fall into these tiny little slits and this will eventually result in a bad smell if the wood surface is not properly cleaned. So what are some efficient ways to clean your butcher block counter top?
Don’t make the mistake
It’s important to remember that certain wood care chemicals are off limits to your butcher block counter. That’s because you are dealing with consumables and because most of these chemicals can cause severe health problems if they come into contact with your food or drink. Many chemicals which are not compatible with the wood may even cause further damage—so avoid your home maintenance store for the solution.
Prevention is better than cure
It is essential that you keep your butcher block counter clean at all times. This means wiping it down after every use—and not waiting too long to do so. By continuously cleaning your counter top you will prevent most of the stains and smells that can occur. You will also ensure that, for the most part, it remains relatively hygienic. Continual cleaning is as easy as taking a warm wet cloth and a drop of dish detergent. Give the counter a good wipe and then rinse excess soap off with a dripping-wet cloth.
Minor scratches and stains
However, you cannot protect your counter top from every form of damage or blemish. Wood is simply more susceptible to these elements which is why proper care is extra important. After prolonged use, your counter top will start to show signs of small cuts and faint stains. There may also be an unpleasant smell because of bacteria that has not been cleaned out properly.
Germs can be effectively removed by washing your butcher block counter top with white wine vinegar. Vinegar is a natural sanitizer and will destroy any unhealthy bacteria that might be lurking on your board. For stains, a simple scrub with some lemon juice should remove minor blemishes; and will also leave a pleasant smell behind. By washing your counter top in this sequence, you will effectively sanitize it with the vinegar and fragrance it with the lemon juice. Both of these natural ingredients are of course also perfectly safe to consume.
After years of use, accidents are bound to happen. Wooden counter tops are prone to suffer burns, deep scratches and serious stains. In cases such as these, a major counter top service may be required every two to three years. This maintenance involves sanding the counter top lightly where the damage or stain is visible. Make sure to sand with the grain so as to maintain the integrity of the wood. Once this is done and the damage is no longer visible, treat the wood with warmed up food-grade mineral oil. The wood needs to absorb the oil so leave it for at least half an hour before wiping the residue off with a dry cloth.
Remember to educate all the members of your household on how to prevent serious damage to your wooden counter top. You can now also teach them how to provide proper butcher block counter tops care by following the above prescription. These methods will also work well for portable butcher blocks, but are especially useful for built-in tops which are not washable under running water.
Be sure to enjoy your wooden counter top and continue using it for what it was meant for—preparing fresh, homemade food for you and your family.