Treating and Cleaning Your Wood Countertops: Tips and Tricks

Jenny Cazares | Discovery Team | Dean Cabinetry

By: Jenny Cazares

Do my wood countertops come treated or untreated?

You can order your wood kitchen countertops either treated or untreated. 

You could have them stained or treated with a polyurethane or lacquer. Also, you can choose satin, semi-gloss, or a glossy finish. Satin is the most common finish; a glossy finish, however, offers the most protection.

If your tops come untreated, with no stain or finish, you will need to care for them. If you choose this option, they will require routine maintenance.

Should I stain or treat my butcher block or wood countertops?

If you are using your butcher block to prepare food, you should not add any chemical stain or finish, even if it is water based. It would not be considered safe, due to the dried coating that could penetrate your food when using knives. It’s better to leave your butcher block untreated, and use a food safe treatment.

It would be ok to stain or polyurethane your countertops, if you’re not using any knives in that area. If you are using knives, it is recommended to use a water base stain or water based polyurethane. Once this is dried and cured, it is food safe. 

How do I care for my wood countertops if they are naked wood?

When you first install your wood countertops, you can treat them a few different ways to ensure the longevity of your wood. I would recommend having a discussion with your countertop provider, and ask their recommendations for treating your new wood countertops, prior to using. 

Here are a few ways to care for your untreated wood countertops:

  • Beeswax or Paraffin wax
    • Apply liberally to the wood and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Remove with a clean dry cotton cloth. You can buff this to a nice sheen. Reapply monthly.
  • Mineral Oil
    • Rub mineral oil into your wood countertops and allow it to be fully absorbed. Mineral oil is best for butcher blocks because it is 100% food safe. It is also heat and stain resistant. You will need to reapply approximately 3-4 times a year.
  • Tung Oil
    • Apply to your wood countertops and allow it to dry. Tung oil will saturate the color of your wood and will harden with a protective film that will not peel. It dries with a very low sheen. It will slightly darken your wood to it’s natural rich color. You will need to reapply yearly.
wood countertop

Tung Oil treated Butcher Block-Pinterest

How to clean butcher block and wood countertops?

Cleaning countertops made of wood is fairly easy; here are a few simple methods to use:

  • Soap and water
    • Prepare a mixture of warm water with a drop of mild dishwashing soap. Use a clean cloth to wipe down your countertops.
  • Vinegar and water
    • Mix 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts warm water in a spray bottle. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Spray countertops and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft cloth.
  • Bleach and water
    • Mix 1 part  bleach to 3 parts of warm water in a spray bottle. Use only in an extreme case.

How do I clean my stained or treated wood countertops?

Clean them with a mild soap and water solution, or a diluted vinegar and water spray. Always ask your countertop professional what they recommend prior to using them; you would never want to spray anything on them that could void the warranty.

How can I remove stains from my naked clean wood countertops?

  • Salt and lemon juice
    • Mix together and rub into the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then wipe clean. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Make a thin paste using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda; rub on the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes., Wipe clean. Hydrogen peroxide will lighten the stain with each application.
  • Sanding
    • This should be your last option if you are unable to remove a bad stain. Sand the spot with coarse sandpaper and finish with a fine grit to smooth it out. Make sure you seal the area with a paraffin wax or oil.

Can I touch up my wood countertops?

If you get a bad scratch or gouge in your countertops you can use a colored wax pencil and fill it in. Then buff it to blend with the rest of your countertops. You can also sand them down, then treat or refinish them.

I hope this blog has given you the tools to help you maintain your beautiful wood countertops. If you properly maintain them, they will last the lifetime of your home. 

If you ever need to move your countertops, they might even be able to be reused in another location. This is one of the great features about wood; it is beautiful, sustainable, and renewable!