5 Cleaning Tips to Care and Preserve Wooden Items in Your Kitchen

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Wood provides such a special feel to any kitchen — from traditional to modern homes, wooden accents, furniture, and accessories are easy to integrate.  The only downside is that you may face problems that don’t apply to other materials, like rotting, cracking, splintering, and staining from spills or absorbing liquids. Any professional real estate company can tell you how closely property value is tied to aesthetic and preservation. Fortunately, you can prevent these issues by following these 5 tips to keep all the wood in your kitchen vibrant and strong. 

Do Not Use Furniture Polish on Kitchen Cabinets or Counters

Furniture polish seems like the obvious choice, especially if you have wooden tables or shelves in your living room or bedrooms.  The difference is furniture polishes are oil stain and thinned varnish mixtures. Their purpose is to penetrate the wood rather than form a substantial layer on the surface.  This is great for furniture, which stays away from water. In your kitchen, you are constantly washing and wiping surfaces.  

Plus, the strong scents in furniture polish are not chemicals you want to come in contact with things you use to prepare and eat food. Make sure to use suitable oils to ensure that all your wood surfaces are resisting water damage for as long as possible, while also avoiding any unnecessary health concerns or chemical odors permeating your kitchen.

Avoid Prefinished Wood for Hardwood Kitchen Flooring

There are pros and cons for prefinished wood if you want to install a new floor: on the bright side, factory prefinishing is extremely long-lasting, and will last up to five-times longer than doing it yourself. The downside is that they have beveled edges, which will lead to small gaps between individual wood pieces.  Over time, water and other liquids will penetrate the gaps, which will lead to damage. Considering that, you are better off applying your own finishing after selecting wood that fits as close together as possible.  

Sand Your Cutting Board or Butcher Block Before Finishing

Rougher surfaces will require sanding to maximize the efficiency of your finishing process, and cutting boards or butcher blocks also have a lot of cut marks and scratches that you can remove for the most part with the right amount of sanding by hand.  150-320 grits are the best for preparing your surface. If you have wooden spoons or other utensils that need some restoration done, 400 grit or higher is the best for that. 

Use Food-Grade Oils for Wooden Countertops and Utensils 

For finishing wood, it is common to hear mineral oil as a suggestion. It works well because it doesn’t impart a greasy feel and offers great protection and liquid resistance.  However, there are different qualities, so you will want to make sure you are using food grade if you choose mineral oil. Other alternatives that are ideal for holistic households are linseed oil, walnut oil, and beeswax.  Linseed and walnut oils are polymerizing, which will lead to the surfaces hardening over time, sort of like a natural varnish.  

They also impart the color of the oil into the wood and cause subtle changes over time.  Keep this in mind. Also, be careful about nut allergies when considering these oils (linseed oil is derived from flax).  For beeswax or other wax-based salves, they are best for less-used woods such as decorative bowls or structural accents. Waxes are notoriously tough to completely remove after applied.  

You Can Completely Refinish or Upcycle Wooden Surfaces and Utensils Instead of Replacing Them

This is a fun DIY project that also has serious value.  If you are very fond of your cabinet doors, drawers, or counter tops in your kitchen, but they have obvious signs of wear and aging, you can completely revitalize them as long as there has not been any serious damage. It may also be possible to reimagine the colors with staining to something more suitable to your taste while keeping the same design you love. This works just as well for antiques and other wooden items that you may be able to increase the value through “upcycling.” 

Start with sanding if needed, then wash each object with soap and hot water.  Wait until it is completely dry, and then stain. If you do not want to stain, then skip this step and apply the oil of your choice and give it time to soak.  Wait for 24 hours and re-apply if needed, or wipe away the excess. Follow this same process the next time you notice signs of drying. For cracks, consider pouring a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax directly into the crack and then letting it dry before applying oil to the entire surface.

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