Installing granite in your kitchen is a great investment in the value of your home, but it’s an expensive one. If you just paid a few thousand dollars or more, don’t let them get ruined by not taking care of them properly. Here’s the lowdown on how to care for granite countertops so you can keep them looking wonderful for years to come.
How To Clean Granite Countertops
Its’ popularity is due in no small part to the fact that it is fairly low-maintenance. It’s hard, resistant to scratches and dents, and heat-resistant. This doesn’t mean that that the stone requires no regular maintenance. Daily maintenance will help keep your counters looking great for longer. Clean them daily with a damp cloth and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Dry it with a soft cloth and you’re all set.
Here is a link to our full granite cleaning guide where we explain how to use isopropyl alcohol to kick your cleaning into high gear.
Get in the habit of blotting up spills as soon as they occur. This will help prevent stains on your countertops. Avoid rubbing spills as this could spread them and make larger stains.
One problem with soap is that over time it can form a visible haze on the surface. This is especially a problem with dark stone. It can easily be fixed but you’ll need a good cleaner, which we cover next.
The Best Granite Cleaner
For day to day cleaning you can use good old soap and water, but sometimes you’ll need something a little more powerful. Depending on what type of mess you have on your counters, you’ll need different types of cleaners. There are several different cleaners marketed as granite cleaners. As long as the cleaners are not too acidic or too basic (pH neutral), they should be safe.
If you’re trying to clean up greasy spill or stain, look for a cleaner with degreasing capabilities. Make sure that whatever cleaner you use is gentle enough to protect the finish of the countertop. Here’s one we can confidently recommend.
Got a stubborn stain that you can’t get out? There are a few different products for sale that can more than likely draw that stain out for you. You might even be able to make you own concoction to pull out that stain. Here are a few tips for deep stain removal.
Why Sealing Them Is A Must
Like all other natural stones, granite is naturally porous. This means it is susceptible to stains until it is sealed. You can leave them unsealed, but sealing them can help protect their finish and keep them looking better for longer. Fortunately, sealing is a fairly simple process and inexpensive process.
How To Seal Them
Start by wiping down the worktop with your favorite cleaner, then apply the sealing product. Some sealants are designed to last for several years, while others may need to be reapplied every six months to a year.
Some topical sealers are designed to be easily removed and reapplied regularly while others are ‘permanent’ in that they are difficult to remove once applied. They are different to penetrating sealants which seep into the surface filling the pores and fissures that are too small to see. Penetrating sealants offer a more natural, less shiny look.
A third type of sealant is an “enhancer”. These change or enhance the look of the stone somewhat, usually by making it appear darker or ‘wetter’ to show off natural highlights and variations in color.
What Sealer Should You Buy
If you’re not sure what type of sealant you should use, stop by the local showroom or stone yard and ask them what they recommend. They probably have something they can sell you right then and there.
This one is perfect if you want a non-toxic ph balanced sealer that can be easily sprayed on and wiped off instead of one of the tougher to apply polishes.
If you want you kitchen work surface to look like these for the long term, invest in a quality sealer. It’s a lot easier to do this general maintenance once or twice a year than to labor trying to get stains out.
How To Disinfect Granite
While granite is less likely to harbor bacteria than some other materials, you may still worry about disinfecting it. After all, kitchens are breeding zones for bacteria and germs, but you can’t just whip out the bleach and go to town. Bleach and other acidic cleansers can damage the surface, leaving it dull and etched.
Most gentle dish soaps today contain antimicrobial chemicals that are safe enough to use on countertops, but you can strengthen these by adding a small amount (3-4 tsp) of isopropyl alcohol to a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of dish soap. Spray the solution on your counter, then wipe the solution away with a clean, dry, cloth.
Cleaning with Vinegar
Fans of ‘green’ cleaning may rely on vinegar for cleaning most household items, but when it comes to cleaning, skip the vinegar. Vinegar and other highly acidic substances can actually etch the surface of your granite, stripping it of its shine and leaving etch marks in it. Lemon juice, vinegar, and other acidic substances may be fine for cleaning your sink, but keep them well-away from any stone counters.
Can You Cut on Granite?
One of the most appealing aspects is the fact that it is harder and more durable than the steel used in knife blades. This means that you can cut food directly on your kitchen worktop, but should you?
Granite could damage your knives and dull their blades, so unless you don’t mind replacing or sharpening your knives fairly often, you’ll probably want to cut on a chopping block. Also, most foods release some moisture which can penetrate the pores in natural stone if it’s not properly and thoroughly sealed. So, while you can cut your food right on your countertop, if you want to keep them looking pristine, you should probably use a cutting board just to be safe.
Can You Place Hot Pans on It?
It’s formed under some pretty intense heat (it’s an igneous rock, after all), so unless you’re cooking foods at volcanic temperatures, you can take a hot pan and sit it directly on them and it should be fine. There is one caveat: intense differences in temperatures (think cold stone and hot pan) can cause ‘thermal shock’ which can cause hairline cracks which can get worse over time.
For the most part, this is unlikely. Stone counters are sturdy and capable of taking the heat from your pan, but it’s also an expensive material to replace should the unthinkable happen. So, while you could set your pans on the surface, it’s probably best to use a trivet or something else to absorb the heat and disperse it safely across your countertop.
Stone is really is that easy to care for. It can take serious abuse and still look great, but if you take just a little extra care with your granite countertops, they’ll look great for many years to come.
Think you can’t afford granite? Here’s a few tips to help you keep the price of them down.
We have been told to wipe around the faucets or our new granite countertop could turn green. Is a damp dish cloth sufficient or should we be using a dry towel. What causes the green color? Thank you
Scott J Hi Pat, If you get green stains around the faucet it's from minerals in the water. Use a dry towel to clean any standing water up before it gets a chance to dry. If you have well water or hard water in general it's more of a concern.
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Updated: July 24, 2017