Rommie asked: How do I clean a timber benchtop in the kitchen? The benchtop is blue gum and had been treated with wood oil. After two years, layers of built up oil have made the surface cloudy and dirty looking. How can I remove the old build up, and what is the best way of treating it in the future?
Cleaning and maintaining a wood countertop is a daily task. Though well worth the effort to keep the rustic, wooden feel in your kitchen. Blue gum is a hard wearing timber that will hold up for years. It can tolerate the cleaning necessary to keep the countertop free of bacteria and stains. There are two steps to this guide. The first addresses the removal of the protective coating and the second provides cleaning steps for maintaining your wooden countertops.
Removing the Oil Build Up
You Will Need:
- Soft cloths
Steps to Remove the Oil Build Up:
- There are sealant removers to go with all sealant products. Check the paint department at your local hardware or home improvement stores. Check for a remover or sealant stripper that is made by the same manufacturer as the oil that was applied to the surface. If none are available, a general remover will work as well.
- Apply the stripper using soft cloths and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once the oil is removed and the wood is bare, it is ready to be cleaned and resealed.
Cleaning and Maintaining Wooden Countertops
You Will Need:
- Sand paper (120 and 180 grit)
- Lemon juice
- Mineral oil or wood sealant
- Dish soap
Steps to Clean and Maintain the Countertops:
- Most stains, burn marks and scratches can be removed with a light sanding.
- Begin by sanding the area with 120 grit paper.
- Continue with a light sanding using 180 grit paper until the surface is smooth.
- Stains can also be removed by rubbing the area with lemon juice.
- Salt can be added to the juice for additional cleaning power.
- Once the area is cleaned and all stains are removed, apply a quality oil or sealant to protect the surface.
- Re-oiling the surface monthly will keep your countertops looking great. If the surface becomes cloudy, remove the oil and start with a fresh coat.
- Clean countertops daily with warm water and dish soap to keep them clean and minimize staining.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Clean up spills and liquids immediately to avoid damage to the surface of the wood and staining.
- Timber benchtops should be resealed annually to prevent bacteria build up.
- Avoid using vinegar on wooden countertops. The acid in the vinegar can dissolve the glue that holds the pieces together.
- Keep a weak bleach/water solution in a spray bottle to sanitize wood countertops after they are exposed to raw meats. Simply spray the surface and wipe away with a sponge.