How To Clean Butcher Block Countertops

updated Sep 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

A quick search online for pros and cons of butcher block countertops will give a long list of pros on beauty and function, and one definite con: maintenance. It’s a forgiving surface, to say the least, since it can be sanded and oiled to be made like new, but what a project!

The overall chorus, however, suggests that everyday cleaning is far easier and simpler, and doesn’t require harsh chemicals or cleaners. Here’s the best way to clean your butcher block countertops after using them.

Recent debate at my own dinner table and in a few independent studies have pitted wood cutting and prep surfaces against plastic. So far, wood wins. Naturally-occurring antimicrobial substances in wood grain make it more sanitary overall. So, using bleach or harsh chemicals simply isn’t necessary, and may cause additional damage to the coloring or finish.

A friend was kind enough to let me test these quick daily maintenance steps on her butcher block countertops. I was cautious only in the vinegar application to avoid a lingering odor, but surprisingly, no odor remained and all of the moisture was easily removed with the final use of a towel.

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Undiluted white vinegar and a little bit of elbow grease can freshen and sanitize butcher block countertops. (Image credit: Erika Tracy)

How To Clean Butcher Block Countertops

What You Need

Mild dish soap

Scrub brush or sponge

Metal scraper or spatula

Spray bottle of vinegar

Paper towels or dish towel


  1. Scrape off gunk or food residue: If necessary, use a metal pastry scraper or spatula to gently scrape any areas of the countertop where you find dried-on food or residue. Be careful to keep the blade at an angle where you just skim the surface to avoid gouging the wood.
  2. Scrub the countertop: Take a scrub brush or sponge and scrub the countertop with hot water and mild dish soap.
  3. Rinse with hot water: Run a clean dish cloth through hot water and rinse the countertop well.
  4. Sanitize with vinegar: Spray undiluted white vinegar onto the countertop, and let sit for a few minutes. Wipe off with a clean, damp dish cloth.
  5. Dry thoroughly: Using a clean dish towel or paper towel, thoroughly dry the countertop.You may also run the scraper down the countertop again to remove even more moisture.

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