How to Maintain Your Wood Countertop or Cutting Board

Like any part of your home, your wood countertop or cutting board needs attention and maintenance. It’s no secret, the absolute best way to protect your wood countertop or cutting board is prevention.

Keep anything that will potentially destroy the wood away from the surface. The wood in your kitchen needs proper attention, or it will lose its vitality and waste away.

Each month, consider giving your wood countertop and cutting board oil massages so it will continue looking its best for years to come. This is especially important if you consider yourself an avid cook.

According to the Hardwood Lumber Company’s official cutting board care and maintenance guide, this should be done every 2 to 4 weeks. Make it a habit! Here are a few techniques to assist in regular maintenance to preserve your wood countertop or cutting board.

Mineral Oil Massage

As mentioned before, a decent oil massage is an effective maintenance technique. There are specific instructions to reseal pores and to re-season wood that looks dry or lighter in color. Say goodbye to cuts, dings, scratches and scrapes!

Before applying the oil, stains should be removed. A little lemon may be powerful enough to take out a stain. Cut a lemon in half and vigorously rub out the stain with the juices. Sprinkle on some salt on for extra abrasion.

If this trick fails, stir together one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water, take a hand towel and try to blot out the stain. After all stains disappear, find a cleaner that is non-toxic and wipe down the entire surface and let it completely air dry.

Next, sand the wood very lightly, with a 220- or 320-grit sandpaper and wipe away shavings with a damp cloth. Once the sanding is finished, the oiling process can begin.

Take some food-grade mineral oil (or our Butcher Block & Cutting Board Oil) and pour generously over the smooth wood. With a cotton cloth, gently spread the oil to every corner then aggressively rub in the oil without missing a spot. Let the oil soak in to the wood for a total 2 to 4 hours. Once that time passes, take a clean, dry cloth and wipe away the remaining oil to reveal bright and healthy wood.

Other Effective Maintenance Techniques

While we recommend the oil massage technique for regular upkeep, there are other ways to maintain your wood countertop or cutting board. Here are a few other tips and tricks:

  • Keep your hot pots on the stove, a trivet, or a plate. To avoid burns, something has to serve as a liaison between the wood and the heat.
  • Clean up spills immediately! Do not let a spill sit and soak.
  • The recipe for an extra protection oil mix, is: 1 part melted beeswax or paraffin wax plus 4 parts mineral oil. Remember, food friendly oil.
  • White vinegar is a fantastic antibacterial cleaning agent. The acid in vinegar is a great disinfectant, effective against harmful bugs such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus. Another good bacteria slayer is hydrogen peroxide.
  • After cooking clean-up, if you have been working with onions, garlic or other strong scented foods, lemon or lime juice with salt will help remove odors. Sprinkle your cutting surface with salt. Cut a lemon or lime into quarters and use these to rub the salt into the cutting surface. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes and then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Another answer to fresh scented tops: baking soda. Remember, this will not only alleviate odors, it will also kill stains!
  • Important notice: wood cutting boards should be cleaned promptly after each use. Never submerge a wood cutting board in water. It does not belong in the dishwasher.
  • Remember that sanding and regular oiling is done only for oil finished wood - not for wood finished with acrylic urethane, spar urethane, polyurethane or Waterlox. Give this type of finish the same treatment as you would with furniture in your home. Cleaning is simple and can be done with soap and water or with white vinegar and water (one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water). If desired, furniture polish can also be used.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself: A new unfinished wood countertop should have at least two coats of butcher block oil before being used.

Maintain Your Products

At the Hardwood Lumber Company, we pride ourselves on providing quality countertops and cutting boards which come sealed with one coat of mineral oil. We recommend that you apply a second coat of Butcher Block Oil or Butcher Block Conditioner before use. Remember to regularly maintain your wood countertop or cutting board so that you can enjoy them for years to come.