As you may know, quartz, granite, and marble are the three most popular materials for today’s countertops and add an expensive touch to kitchens and bathrooms. Regardless of which stone you choose, knowing how to clean your countertops is critical to keeping them looking like new.
The design specialists at Chris and Dick’s have been helping customers choose the perfect materials to achieve their home-design goals for more than 60 years. As seasoned professionals, they are well versed in the right way to clean your countertops so that no matter which material you choose, you can easily keep your counters spotless and maintain their beauty and functionality far into the future.
Our design team offers the following advice for cleaning quartz, granite, and marble countertops.
Cleaning a quartz countertop
Quartz is the most popular material for countertops today due to its durability and resilience.
Although it looks like natural stone, quartz used in countertops is actually a manmade material formed by combining randomly sized quartz crystals with resins and colored pigment to form a slab. Quartz countertops are 93% quartz and 7% resin and should not be confused with natural quartzite, which requires sealing as often as twice a year. In fact, one of the perks of owning a quartz countertop is that it doesn’t require any sealing to be stain resistant. Because quartz contains resin binders, these countertops are not porous; therefore, they resist mold, mildew, and bacteria quite effectively.
In order to keep quartz countertops clean, use a glass cleaner or non-abrasive household cleaner, and wipe up spills with dish soap and a soft cloth (microfiber is recommended). Remove stains using a glass or surface cleaner and a non-abrasive sponge. For spills that have dried or heavier stains that don’t clean easily with this method, use a plastic putty knife to carefully scrape away the mess.
If your quartz countertop gets greasy from cooking, products such as Krud Kutter and Easy-Off are helpful, and even permanent marker can be erased using a product like Goo Gone on a damp soft cloth.
Avoid anything harsh on quartz, from cleansers that can scratch to extreme heat, to prepping food without a cutting board. Also avoid installing quartz in an outdoor kitchen as its colors can fade from sunlight, which can eventually cause the material to split or warp.
Cleaning a granite countertop
Granite slabs come in such a wide variety of colors and formations that granite is one of the most desirable materials for stone countertops. Each slab is truly one of a kind.
While granite countertops benefit from being constructed of the hardest stone found in nature next to the diamond, cleaning them still requires a tender touch. The good news is that granite is naturally anti-bacterial, and with the proper sealant, is an easy-to-care-for finish.
Although it may be tempting to choose an abrasive scrub that will easily lift stains and spilled food off your granite countertops, a gentle cleanser is a must. Harsh, abrasive scrubs can damage and alter the stone.
Instead, mix a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with four cups of water in a spray bottle and apply after food preparation with a soft, non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth. From there, allow it to air dry. Water stains can be cleaned by mixing baking soda with a bit of hydrogen peroxide, while oil-based stains can be cleaned with a mixture of baking soda and water.
For tougher stains on granite, combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a bowl to create a thick paste, then spread the paste liberally over the stain and cover with plastic wrap, taping the edges down. Let the cleanser set overnight or even for as long as two days, then rinse and wipe with a soft cloth.
While granite is usually protected by sealant when installed, it may need to be resealed after a while, especially if stains have become difficult to remove. For this job, it’s best to call in a professional, who will thoroughly clean the countertop and reseal it properly.
Avoid cleaning granite countertops with household acids such as vinegar, lemon, lime and citrus; ammonia or cleaners that contain ammonia like Windex; bleach; steel wool; and scrubber sponges. Any of these materials will dull granite’s shine and may even eat away at sealant, leaving it vulnerable to stains, mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Cleaning a marble countertop
The third most popular countertop material, marble is purely natural and offers unique beauty, durability, and a smooth, shiny surface. However, one of the main factors to consider with marble countertops is its delicacy.
If you own a marble countertop, be sure to avoid having it come in contact with acid in any form: food or cleanser. Non-abrasive cleansers are a must for this surface, which can be scratched and dulled easily from harsh substances. A non-scratch marble or stone cleaner works well, as does a mild, non-abrasive and non-acidic soap (gentle dish soap is fine) combined with water.
To clean your marble countertop, mix a little dish soap with warm water in a spray bottle and spray liberally, then scrub gently and wipe with a clean, soft, wet cloth. This process should be repeated until there is no more residual soap on your countertop. Then, dry by buffing with a soft-clean cloth.
Stains on marble are best dealt with immediately to avoid them setting in the stone. To remove food stains or rust marks left by metals, create a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, apply liberally and allow to dry before wiping away.
Additionally, mildew can be removed from marble with a solution of three parts household bleach, one part water and a squirt of dish soap combined in a spray bottle. Saturate the stain with the mixture and repeat until the stain is gone; then wipe with water and dry thoroughly.
Scratches and etchings on marble typically need a polishing powder, whereas ink, paint, water spots and rings, and metal stains on marble require poultices to clean.
A few tips for all three types of countertop materials:
- Remember to clean up spills and stains immediately, especially acidic foods like wine, citrus juices, vinegar, and salad dressings, and foods with artificial and natural dyes like Kool-Aid and beets.
- Avoid chopping or slicing directly on the surface and use trivets under hot items to prevent thermal shock, which may crack stone countertops.
- Harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach or ammonia can etch these counters – even sealed ones.
- Sealants don’t last forever as normal wear and tear removes the finish. Light-colored stone usually needs to be resealed every one to three years, while darker colors can go three to five years; refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for the right sealing schedule.
Whether you choose quartz, granite, or marble for your countertop, knowing exactly how to clean and maintain it and keeping the proper cleaning tools on hand are a must. With a few simple items, a little know-how, and possibly a bit of elbow grease, you can keep your countertops clean, shiny, and in beautiful condition for years to come.