Good Question: Keeping a Butcher Block Clean without Drying Out

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Dear The Kitchen,

How do you clean butcher block tops without drying them out?

I have an Ikea 1" butcher block top on my island. I usually use orange spray, but I'm sick of my main work area drying out a week after I oil it. Is orange spray too harsh? Does just wiping it off with water do the job?

Thanks,
Scazz

Dear Scazz,

Good butcher blocks, if cared for properly, can last lifetimes.

The best way to clean a butcher block is with a moist scrubby sponge. The best way to keep it from drying out is to make sure you never leave the wood wet after using, or scrubbing, and that you oil it regularly.

To clean: scrub with a warm sudsy sponge, then rinse out the sponge and wipe down the wood. Then wipe dry with a dry towel.

To oil: use mineral oil, preferably slightly warm. Apply it with a soft cloth in the direction of the grain. Allow the oil to soak in for a few hours between applications (if you have never done this, or it has been more than a few months, try doing 3-4 applications). Regularly oiling should occur once a month.

If major cracks occur (usually due to an extremely dry environment, or a board that has been left wet repeatedly), fill them in with wood filler, allow to dry, then sand smooth. Go through the multi-application oiling process.

Good luck!

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

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