How to Clean a Butcher Block

Cleaning and caring for a butcher block countertop is important to keep it looking beautiful and prevent damage. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to clean a butcher block properly.

Materials Needed

  • Mild dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloths or sponges
  • Mineral oil, beeswax, or butcher block oil
  • Soft brass brush or Scotch-Brite pad

Cleaning a Lightly Soiled Surface

For day-to-day cleaning of minor spills and dried on debris, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bucket or basin with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap. Stir to combine.
  2. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the soapy water and wring it out so it is damp but not dripping.
  3. Wipe down the entire surface of the butcher block. Scrub gently using a circular motion to lift any stuck on bits.
  4. Rinse the sponge, wipe the surface with clean water, and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
  5. Apply a fresh coat of mineral oil, beeswax, or butcher block conditioner. Allow it to absorb fully.

Deep Cleaning a Heavily Soiled Surface

For a periodic deep clean or to remove stains, follow these steps:

  1. Sweep or gently scrape off any large debris using a plastic spatula or dough cutter. Avoid metal utensils.
  2. Make a cleaning paste by sprinkling some baking soda onto the surface and spraying it lightly with water. Spread into a thin layer.
  3. Allow the paste to sit for 10-15 minutes to lift stains.
  4. Scrub using a soft brass brush or Scotch-Brite pad, going with the direction of the wood grain. Avoid scrubbing too hard.
  5. Rinse well and wipe dry with a clean cloth. Repeat if needed for stubborn stains.
  6. Apply a fresh coat of oil or conditioner. Allow it to fully absorb.

Maintaining and Caring Long Term

  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains.
  • Reapply oil or wax monthly to maintain the protective finish.
  • Consider sanding and resealing annually if the block is heavily used.
  • Avoid harsh cleaners like bleach that can damage the wood.
  • Do not cut directly on the block’s surface without a cutting board.
  • Use trivets or hot pads when setting down hot pans to prevent scorching.

How to Clean a Butcher Block FAQs

How do you clean and sanitize a butcher block?

Sanitize by wiping the surface with a dilute bleach solution (1 tbsp bleach per 1 gallon of water) after regular cleaning. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before re-oiling.

Can you use vinegar to clean a butcher block?

Yes, you can substitute vinegar for the mild dish soap. Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 gallon warm water and use as directed. Vinegar helps cut grease.

What happens if you don’t oil a butcher block?

Without frequent oiling, the wood can dry out, crack, or warp over time. Lack of oil also reduces its stain and bacteria resistance.

How often should you oil a butcher block countertop?

Ideally every 1-2 weeks for a frequently used kitchen countertop. Once a month oil application is sufficient for lightly used boards.

Can you use coconut oil on a butcher block?

Yes, food-grade coconut oil can be used to condition and protect a butcher block. Apply a thin layer and buff off excess. Repeat monthly.

What is the best oil or wax to use on a butcher block?

Food-grade mineral oil is affordable and penetrates well. Beeswax and carnauba wax also provide a protective finish. Choose butcher block wax and oil mixes made specifically for the purpose.


Caring for a butcher block countertop does require some regular maintenance but it will keep it looking great for years. Frequent cleaning along with monthly oiling is the key to maintaining its beauty and functionality. With the proper care, a butcher block can last a lifetime in a kitchen.