Granite countertops are a timeless feature in many homes. Trending since the early 2000s, many homeowners opt for granite because the natural stone is more than pleasing to the eye. It’s stain and bacteria-resistant, too. That said, to keep your granite countertops in good condition for years to come, you’ll need to follow a specific cleaning and care routine.
Step by step, let’s look at how to clean granite countertops properly.
Make Sure the Countertop is Sealed
If your granite countertop isn’t sealed, or the sealant is wearing off, that should be your priority. Granite is a naturally porous stone. The sealant stops food particles and liquids from seeping into the stone itself. For ultimate longevity, have your countertops sealed every two to four years. You can do it yourself if you’re confident, but many people opt to call in professionals.
There are two types of sealant you can use:
Topical Sealers: These produce a protective layer to seal your granite countertops.
Impregnating Sealers: This type of sealant penetrates the porous granite surfaces to prevent stains and liquids from soaking through. An impregnating sealant lasts longer than a topical, but both will need to be reapplied every few years.
If your granite countertop has a color enhancer, this is not a replacement for using a sealant. The color enhancer aims to make the granite appear “wet” and glossy, and to help bring out the natural color of the stone.
How can you tell when it’s time to seal your granite countertop again? If you notice water no longer beads up or that it is harder to wipe up spills, don’t wait longer than you have to.
Tips for How to Clean Granite Counters
After your granite countertops are properly sealed, you’re good to clean them. Clean them every day for the best results.
- Avoid harsh cleansers. Chemicals, acidic cleaners, and abrasive cleaning tools spell disaster for your granite. Opt for warm water with mild dishwashing liquid and a clean microfiber cloth. Though vinegar is a great cleaning product, it’s not something to use on your granite countertops. It can weaken the sealant and ultimately dull your granite. Abrasive sponges, steel wool, etc. can scratch your countertops.
- Clean spills as soon as possible. Even though granite isn’t as porous as marble, it can still soak up oils and stains. Wipe any stains immediately with a soft cloth to prevent them from seeping into the stone.
- Use gentle dish soap with warm water to clean. Wet a cloth with warm water and apply a few drops of your favorite mild dish soap. Wipe the entire surface once. Run the cloth through fresh water and wring it out periodically to help prevent the spreading of grease, food, and other contaminants. Once you’re done with the soap, rinse the cloth. Wipe down with fresh water to remove soap residue.
- Dry your countertop. When you’ve finished cleaning stained granite countertops now it’s time to rinse and wipe. Use a clean and soft microfiber cloth to dry them. If you don’t, you may end up with water spots.
- Consider special granite cleaners. When you’re in the cleaning products aisle of your favorite big-box retailer, you’ll find products specifically labeled for cleaning granite countertops. While these are useful, they’re not required. Mild soap and water work just as well.
- Make your own granite countertop homemade stain remover. If you want something quicker than soap and water, make your own DIY stain remover! Use a mixture of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol, aka rubbing alcohol. Scent it with about 20 drops of your favorite (non-citrus) essential oil. Good options include tea tree, lavender, rosemary, or eucalyptus. Keep it in a spray bottle so you can spray it on the counter whenever you want to disinfect granite kitchen countertops.
What Will Stain Your Kitchen Countertops?
Granite is fairly stain-resistant. The extent to which your granite resists stains depends on the color and porosity. It also depends on whether you used an impregnating or topical sealer. To avoid stains on your kitchen counter, take some precautions. This will keep your granite looking sharp for years to come.
If allowed to soak in, you could see water stains. Wipe up spills as soon as you can. Use coasters whenever you have a drink. Pay close attention to the area around your sink and where you prepare food.
Don’t leave damp towels, cloths, or sponges on the counter. Don’t put your wet gloves or umbrella on the counter when you get home from work.
That said, you can still use water to clean granite. It only causes a problem when it’s allowed to soak in. Take time to completely dry your granite surface after it gets wet – whether from cleaning or a spill.
Oil can lead to discoloration. The stains are harder to remove than water spots. The best way to avoid oil stains is to constantly wipe down your counters. Pay special attention to the area around your cooktop. Do not place food directly on the surface of your countertop. Some foods contain natural oils that could stain a bit.
Hot pans can damage your granite countertops. Never place a hot pot directly on the countertop. Even though granite is naturally heat resistant, the sealants aren’t. The result? Unsightly black marks on your granite counters. In the worst-case scenario, the granite may even crack. To avoid heat damage, use trivets or protective pads under the hot pans.
Coffee is acidic enough to damage the countertop. It can dull the stone and cause etching. Place a silicone mat underneath your coffee maker to protect against accidental spills. Avoid leaving coffee grounds on the counter.
Fruit Juice, Red Wine, Soda
These are highly acidic liquids and have dark colors. That’s a poor combination for granite countertops. The acid will eat into the surface. The color will soak into the stone. This leaves behind stains and etchings. If one of these things spills on your granite countertop, wipe it up as soon as possible. Use coasters to protect from rings.
Much like fruit juice, fresh fruit is usually deeply colored and acidic. Citrus fruit, tomatoes, grapes, and tomatoes are most likely to cause damage. Never place them directly on the countertop.
This one isn’t for your kitchen counter, as much as it is for your bathroom. Your makeup products contain dyes and oils that could lead to discoloration. Place your makeup on a mat to protect the stone.
Bleach and Ammonia
Any material that’s not pH neutral can harm granite – including most common household cleaners. Unless you’ve tested the cleansers on a sample piece of granite (not your actual installed countertop), avoid these harsh chemicals.
Removing Stains from Granite
Cleaning your granite countertops every day is enough to keep things looking great. But sometimes, you may find that a spill created a stain.
Baking soda paste is the best granite stain remover. It’s a safe and natural way to remove stains while protecting the stone.
- If the stain is oil-based: Mix the baking soda with water.
- If the stain is water-based: Mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide.
- If the stain is organic (food): Mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide.
Generously apply the paste over the stain. Scrub the counter gently with a soft cloth. Rinse. Repeat if needed.
If you’re dealing with a tough stain and repeated scrubbing doesn’t remove it:
Apply the baking soda paste. Cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap and tape down the edges. Leave the paste in place at least overnight, though a few days is okay, too. Then rinse and wipe down with a soft cloth. Hopefully, the stain disappears.
What’s Safe to Use on Granite Countertops?
- Mild dish soap like Dawn and Ivory (make sure you use a scent that doesn’t contain citrus extracts)
- Castile soap: a natural alternative to dish soap.
- Warm water
- Hydrogen peroxide: This is slightly acidic, so you want to use it sparingly for spot cleaning. Organic stains usually respond to peroxide when other methods fail.
- Baking soda
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Soft cloths like microfiber
What Should I Avoid on My Granite Countertop?
Unfortunately, many DIY cleaners and common household cleaners aren’t suitable for your
Let Professional House Cleaners Do It For You
Too busy to clean your granite counters?
We get it. The luxury of time is something that many people don’t have, more so time to deep clean. At Upstairs Downstairs cleaning services, we’re here to ease the load and do all the dirty work that you don’t have time to do. From cleaning and polishing your granite countertops, to mopping all the floors in your house, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re a fan of things like deep cleaning and recurring house cleaning, then our cleaning services are right up your alley!
When you hire the team at Upstairs Downstairs, you can rest easy knowing we know how to safely clean granite. We’ll treat it just like it was our own. Contact us today for your quote.