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Butcher block tops are one of the handiest things to keep in a kitchen, when you get down to it.

Whether as a separate kitchen counter accessory or a liner for wire shelving or kitchen carts, butcher blocks help expand the amount of available work surface in your kitchen while helping provide storage and give everything a home.

Of course, as with anything in the kitchen, they can get a little…messy after not too long. No matter what you cook (or how often you cook it), taking care of your butcher block can become a pretty frequent occurrence. It doesn’t need to be a huge pain though, if you follow our quick and easy tips!


Prevent moisture from getting in there: The biggest enemy of wood isn’t fire, surprisingly enough. Quite the contrary—moisture is actually the biggest threat any wood faces, particularly in an environment like the kitchen! Most butcher block tops will be treated by the time you buy them, but if you put yours through a lot (especially around the holidays) you may want to consider a second coating of oil. This oil is easily found at any hardware store, and can prevent excess moisture from getting in as well as vital moisture already in the wood from sneaking out and causing it to over-dry. You’ll thank yourself for doing it the next time you have to wash all the cheese off from when you used it for a charcuterie board.


Take it easy with cleaning supplies: A lot of people tend to keep the really heavy-duty cleaning stuff in the kitchen, like abrasive materials and hard scrubs, since they think it’ll help clean away food crud better. And in many cases it will, but anything made primarily from wood, such as butcher blocks, needs a little gentler touch. The easiest way to prevent stains on the wood is to use a mild soap and a soft sponge to remove any particles while preventing excess moisture (which, as we mentioned above, is bad news for wood). For the really tricky stuff, avoid the tougher soaps and chemicals and stick with a spray bottle of undiluted vinegar to loosen gunk, and then gently scrape it off with a metal scraper or the edge of a metal spatula.


Sand it off: For the really resilient stains and spots, or if there’s any parts of the block that are in rough shape after years of kitchen work, you may need to turn to sandpaper. Start with a coarse grain (80-100) sandpaper to grind the spot out, and then move to finer grit (180-220) to finish it off. Make sure to sand in the immediate area around the stain to avoid accidentally creating a dip or depression in the wood, rendering it unleveled.


Avoid heat: Hopefully this is a no-brainer for most of you, but it really should be stressed that butcher blocks and open heat sources don’t really play well together. Even in the most cramped kitchens, try to keep your butcher blocks away from open sources of heat—put them opposite your stove, for example, and if the heat is running make sure your butcher block is far away (or put away) until the meal is done and the heat is off.


Get covered: Finally, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of scrubbing away at a stubborn stain. Whatever you use your butcher block for, be it serving drinks, carrying hors d’oeuvres to the dining room, or helping prepare dinner, you’re going to want to keep it covered while you work. Keep coasters and rubber heat mats (for storing hot pots without burning the wood) on your butcher block as often as possible to help mitigate the risk of stains or marks while you’re putting that block to work.


Do you have a butcher block that you’ve had to clean? Drop a line below and let us know what you did to keep it mess-free!

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