The elegance of a butcher block countertop is unmatched. Made out of wood with a natural finish, it adds a style statement and enhances the look of a kitchen. Many prefer it over any other kind as it prevents cross-contamination. However, since its surface is wooden, porous, and hygroscopic, liquids and juices from the cut foods get absorbed into the wood and cause damage to it. The surface also absorbs water from the atmosphere and swells up when the relative humidity of the atmosphere is high. When the absorbed water dries up, the wood starts shrinking and leads to splits at the sides.
To avoid such instances, make sure that you wash it with warm water and dish washing soap after every use. Then take a soft piece of cloth, like a sponge or dish towel, and wipe it dry. Wipe it so thoroughly so that no moisture gets absorbed into the wood.
Since you are using it for cutting food, you should disinfect it regularly to destroy the bacteria left behind by raw foods. For this, mix one part of household bleach into 10 parts of water. Dip a scrub brush into this solution and scrub the countertop well to get rid of the microbes. Then, rinse it off with clean water and dry it well with a clean piece of cloth. Instead of bleach, you can also use white vinegar for the same purpose. It is harmless, and at the same time it helps to get rid of odors as well. Apply vinegar on the countertop, and then clean it off with a damp cloth after some time. Finally, use a dry piece of cloth to dry it off.
The main aim is to prevent the countertop from getting damaged due to moisture and bacteria. For this reason, before you start using it, it needs to be seasoned well with mineral oil. Pour some mineral oil onto a piece of cloth and thoroughly wipe the surface with it so that a thin layer of oil is formed on its surface. After an hour or so, apply another coat of mineral oil in the same way. Once the oil gets absorbed into the wood, apply a coat of beeswax over it. Then buff the surface with a soft cotton cloth to get a shiny surface. This kind of treatment increases the counter's resistivity towards moisture. Follow this procedure at least once a month to ensure its longevity. It will also keep other problems like splits due to excessive drying or warping caused by uneven absorption of moisture in the upper and lower surface, in check.
A combination of table salt and lemon can be used to get rid of tough stains off the countertop. It can also act as a disinfecting agent. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt and spread it all over the countertop and leave it untouched for a few minutes. Then clean it off with a towel soaked in cold water and then wipe off the excess water with a dry cloth.
To remove any kind of sticky residue from the countertop, first scrape it out with the help of a putty knife. Then, use a 60-grit sandpaper to clean off the remaining part of the sticky residue. Sand the surface in small circles, but don't keep doing it for a long time. If you do so, it is likely that the surface may become uneven.
A butcher block countertop is more delicate than the other types. That's why, you should use it carefully. It should not be exposed to extreme heat or cold. Do not let any harsh chemicals or detergents spill over it, as it may lead to cupping or cracking that cannot be repaired.