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3 Tips For Cleaning Your Countertops

Not only do countertops serve a practical purpose, they’re also a major part of the design in your kitchen or bathroom. Premium natural stone countertops can be an investment—which is why many homeowners are concerned with protecting their investment and keeping their countertops in the best possible shape. Fortunately, keeping your countertops clean and damage-free is easier than you might think. Here are three tips to make sure your countertops shine like new for years to come.

1. Know your material

Every countertop materials has different dos and don’ts when it comes to cleaning, and there really isn’t any “one size fits all” solution. Cleaning products that work perfectly for one stone may cause costly damage to another. Here’s an overview of the cleaning requirements for some of the most popular types of countertops.

Granite countertops

Granite countertops remain a staple in the world of interior design, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. When sealed, granite is extremely resistant to stains and bacteria, and exceptionally easy to clean. Granite is also very durable, yet vulnerable to damage from some common cleaning products. Protecting the beauty of granite countertops starts with cleaning them correctly. Avoid using vinegar, bleach, and products containing ammonia (such as Windex). Frequent exposure to these acidic substances can dull the surface of the granite, removing its trademark sheen. Along with compromising the look of your countertops, acids can also ruin the sealant, making your countertops more vulnerable to moisture, bacteria, and stains. Damage can also come from lemon, lime, wine, and other acidic foods and beverages. To clean your granite countertops safely, you can use a 50:50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water, or the tried-and-true method of dish soap and warm water. While specialty granite cleaners are available, they’re not always necessary and other methods are just as effective.

Quartz countertops

Durable, trendy, and growing in popularity, quartz countertops can be found in homes across the country. One of the main selling points of quartz is the stone’s low maintenance and upkeep requirements. Since quartz is an engineered stone, it’s made from stain-resistant polymers that make cleaning a breeze. A damp cloth or paper towel is all you need to conquer most everyday spills. Because quartz is nonporous, you won’t have to worry about stains or bacteria settling into the surface. For persistent messes, you can use a non-abrasive cleaning pad and a glass or multi-surface cleaner like Windex. Since quartz is so durable, it’s unlikely you’ll cause any damage through cleaning, but it’s still best to look for non-abrasive products whenever possible.

Marble countertops

With a luxury stone like marble, it’s best to play it safe when it comes to cleaning and focus on being as gentle as possible. Marble is a porous and very delicate stone, making it especially susceptible to damage from stains, moisture, acidity, or abrasive materials. Similar to granite, marble is sensitive to acidic solutions. Even a splash of lemon juice or a spill of wine can eat away at the surface, creating etches, or dull spots. Etches can be removed by grinding down the top layer and re-polishing the surface, however, that process is expensive. It’s best to avoid exposing your marble countertops to any of these substances in the first place. If exposure does occur, wipe away the spill immediately using a damp cloth. For a deeper clean, use a small amount of dish soap. Avoid oil polishes or soft waxes, as these can discolor marble.

Pre-fabricated countertops

Pre-fabricated countertops may not have the flashy reputation of other materials, but they have the same great design appeal. Their low cost and low maintenance requirements make them a popular choice for homeowners on a budget. Pre-fabricated countertops are easy to clean with a simple solution of dish soap and water applied with a microfiber cloth. Scrub brushes and scouring pads should be avoided, as these countertops may lack the durability of other countertops.

2. Tackle stains with homemade cleaners

There’s no need to reach for an abrasive cleaner when you’re faced with a stained countertop. Many homemade options are just as effective, and much less likely to damage the surface. While these stain removal methods are generally safe, make sure and do a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using them to make sure that the method won’t affect the color or finish of the stone.

Oil-based stains

To conquer buildup from cooking oils, grease, milk, and more, use a mixture of white vinegar and water. Note that acidic substances like vinegar can damage granite, so this method shouldn’t be used on granite countertops. As a granite-safe alternative, you can apply a paste of baking soda and water over the surface, and then rinse. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, so be careful not to rub or scrub vigorously. For stubborn stains that have set in, cover them in the baking soda paste and then cover the area with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit until the paste dries—which can take up to a couple of days. Once the paste is dry, use a damp cloth to wipe it away and rinse the area with warm water.

Water-based stains

Most spills and drips from fruit juices, wine, and other colored drinks can be handled by simply blotting the area with a paper towel. You should never wipe the liquid as you run the risk of spreading it around and making a bigger stain. If blotting doesn’t work, you can try using little bit of hydrogen peroxide applied directly to the stain. Hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid that’s unlikely to damage most stones if used sparingly.

3. Keep up with sealing

Some stones are high maintenance, while others require virtually no maintenance at all. Porous stones such as granite and marble require sealing to prevent bacteria and everyday messes from sinking in to the surface. Granite should be sealed about once a year, while marble should be sealed every few months. You can use the water droplet test to determine whether its time to reseal your countertops or not. Leave a few drops of water on the counter, and then wait 15 minutes. If the droplets are still on the surface after 15 minutes, your countertops are still safely sealed. If the drops spread or leave a dark mark on the surface, it’s time to reseal.

Questions? Ask the countertop experts

From awe-inspiring marble to sleek and understated quartz, we’ve learned a thing or two about countertops during our 40+ years in the business. Whether you’re looking for the perfect granite slab or pondering a complete kitchen remodel, you’re sure to find the answer at Imperial Wholesale. Visit our warehouse to see just how many fabulous slabs we have available today.