Cleaning and Oiling Butcher Block
How do you clean a butcher block?
Cleaning a butcher block with a natural-oil finish is fairly easy. First, use a soft bristled brush or a spatula to scrape away any food adhering to the surface of the block. Next, wash the board’s surface using a dish cloth dipped in soapy water. Once done cleaning the board, wash and rinse the dish cloth, wring it out, then wipe the block surface clean. Finish up by using a dry cloth to thoroughly dry the surface of the block. Be sure not to leave any water sitting on the wood surface, as this may cause water spotting. If any spotting does occur, you can renew the surface of your butcher block by sanding it and reapplying a generous coat of block oil or cream.
A butcher block with a Varnique finish cleans up just as easily. Use a dish cloth dipped in mild soap and warm water to clean the block's surface. Wash, rinse and wring the cloth, then use it to wipe the wood one more time. Use a dry cloth to dry the wood. Although Varnique is impervious to most household cleaners, it would not be wise to test its limits. And here's a final precaution: promptly clean up any liquid spills.
How (often) should I re-oil my natural-oil butcher block?
You can extend the beauty and life of any butcher block with a natural-oil finish by reapplying butcher block oil or board cream every 4 weeks or so. This will help prevent it from drying out and cracking. Exposure to extremes in humidity can swell and shrink a butcher block enough to cause checks in its surface, notwithstanding regular care and maintenance. Apply a generous amount of oil to the butcher block surface then spread evenly using a plastic grocery bag. (This is preferred to using a cloth, which will absorb too much oil). Smooth it over the entire top and sides of the block. Allow it to stand overnight. In the morning, remove any excess oil or cream with a paper towel.
An especially effective maintenance regimen involves the use of both board cream and block oil. First, apply a coat of butcher block oil following the instructions above. The oil will penetrate deep into the wood maximizing moisturization. Then apply a board cream such as Boos Block Board Cream with beeswax to lock in the moisture and leave a silky, wax barrier on the surface of the wood.
NOTE: In rare instances, mineral oil will raise the grain of the wood very slightly on new blocks, leaving a patch that’s rough to the touch. This is a natural reaction, NOT a product defect. Roughness can be alleviated easily by lightly sanding the affected area and reapplying oil. Repeat the process as necessary until the block remains smooth.
Other precautions: keep butcher blocks out of direct sunlight and do not allow water or other liquids to stand.
How do you repair butcher block?
If you notice minor cracks in your butcher block, you might try filling them with a cellulose filler in a tint that closely matches that of the wood. Allow the filler to dry, then lightly sand and re-oil the board.