How to Clean and Take Care of Different Countertops

The kitchen countertop is more than merely ‘eye appeal’ — it is the essential ingredient for the prep work of the family meal! Kitchen countertops are used for the veggie chopping, cutting, slicing, and dicing.  Countertops endure the splishes and the splashes of acidic citrus and fruit juices, carbonated sodas, and caffeinated coffee and tea spills.  Countertops take the heat of buffet-style pots and pans.

After the installation of your countertop, and before dicing that first potato, or slicing that first tomato, make sure the countertop installer provides the maintenance instruction manual.  Such manual will not tell you how to win a million dollars in the lottery, but they will explain how to preserve this significant dollar investment to your kitchen. Learn what types of professional cleaners work best for the countertop material chosen, whether it be the popular granite, quartz, marble, laminate, solid surface, tile, Butcher Block, or the latest trend of using eco-friendly, lava, resin, reclaimed wood, stainless steel, and porcelain countertops. 

Granite, Quartz, Marble

How to Clean and Take Care of Different Countertops
Kitchen Countertop Maintenance

When deciding to renovate the kitchen, consumers naturally gravitate to granite, marvel at the luxury of marble, and salivate at the color options of quartz.  To make for an informed buying decision, we provide some details of the attributes to these three most popular kitchen countertops.

Granite Countertops add re-sale value of your overall home. It is a porous natural stone, well known for being stable and durable, and resistant to heat, water stains, and stains from acidic foods. With normal ‘wear and tear,’ granite countertops are very difficult to break, crack, or scratch. Since granite is a natural stone, the color options are a natural tan, grey, yellow-gold, brown, off-white, taupe, peach, and blue-gray with a design pattern showing the ‘veins’ and ‘flecks’ of the stone’s composition. Granite countertops have a protective sealant that helps the granite to be resistant to stains, but is not ‘stain-proof.’  This sealant should be re-applied annually to keep its luster.

Cleaning granite requires a few spritzes with a spray bottle filled with mild dish detergent and water, wiping with soft microfiber cloth. (Your manufacturer’s instruction manual will provide the details of percent of detergent-to-water) Thorough drying of your granite countertop is essential to avoid water spots. Avoid harsh, acidic cleaning solutions containing vinegar or lemon. When in doubt of what to use, consult the firm where you purchased, or the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

Quartz countertops have a story of their own. Quartz stone differs from granite in that Quartz is non-porous and not entirely natural stone, but is engineered by the manufacturer with stone ‘fragments’ from the quarry consisting of quartz, granite, and marble, recycled ceramic, silica, glass, along with a mix of varied quarry stones and a polymeric resin binder.  When the stone components come together, the costly quartz countertop does have a look and feel of natural stone.  Quartz is becoming a popular choice in kitchen countertops, with its broad range of colors, and strength, though less heat resistant than granite.

Common glass cleaners can be used on quartz countertops and wiped with a soft cloth or sponge.  Quartz will resist permanent staining of such items as wine, tea, soda, fruits, veggies, and lemon juice. It is advisable, however, to wipe up ‘fresh’ spills quickly with mild dish detergent and a soft sponge. As with granite, avoid harsh chemical and acidic cleansers.

Marble Countertops: The marvelous and luxurious marble stone countertops are the most porous of the three popular countertops. That said, common sense dictates staying away from harsh chemical cleaning solutions or those that are acidic, such as vinegar, bleach, ammonia, or lemon juice. Tomatoes, citrus fruits, sodas, coffee, wine, fruit juice, and vinegar will damage marble stone, and any spills should be immediately wiped away because ‘stains will set fast!’  The manufacturer will usually apply a high-grade sealant to protect against the porous nature of this stone, though not all marble requires a sealant. Check maintenance instruction manual or with firm where countertop was purchased, before doing sealing. While marble is tolerant of the hot pots and pans, it is wise and prudent to use trivets or potholders! Dust your marble countertop with a microfiber cloth and clean with a soft damp cloth after lightly spraying the surface with a mix of mild dish soap and water. Wipe all suds from the surface and dry thoroughly with a soft towel.  

No two marble countertops will be the same; the ‘modeling’ of the marble veining can be unique, as well as ‘unpredictable’ and marble stone does darken over time. 

Additional ‘Best Tips’ For Kitchen Countertop Maintenance

NATURAL STONE COUNTERTOPS

  • Do not sit or stand on any natural stone counters, no matter how tempting, to reach a high cabinet or change a light bulb. Excessive weight can bring any natural or engineered stone to crack due to the fissures, the natural grooves in the material, part of the stone. 
  • Do not use any cleaning substances except those deemed acceptable for the stone countertop you have.

NATURAL WOOD COUNTERTOPS

  • Pour a liberal dose of mineral or Tung oil to the solid wood or Butcher Block surface and let the oil soak in for half-hour.  Rub excess oil away with a soft cloth, for a stain-resistant surface. Repeat the above once a year.
  • Wood is a porous material, to prevent permanent staining from citrus or fruit juices, jellies, jams, or
    wine — wipe immediately! 
  • Keep the wood ‘Au Natural!’ Do not attempt to bring a luster to your natural wood countertop with a polyurethane finish. Polyurethane ‘finishing’ makes it more difficult to sand down any stains, should they occur. 

LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS

  • Remove stains easily using a paste comprised of three parts baking soda and one part water, place the paste on stain with soft sponge or cloth, wait five minutes — gently wipe. 
  • Watch Seams! The seams can be damaged by water if, after washing your countertop, you do not dry thoroughly. If negligent in cleaning counter edges, dirt and bacteria can get trapped in the seams.