Your kitchen countertops go through a lot of wear and tear throughout the day, so you need to keep them looking their best to help them last a long time. Cleaning your granite surfaces each day with soap and water can effectively remove visible dirtiness, spills and messes that occur as you cook and clean.
However, due to the illnesses that may occur throughout the year, it’s also essential to kill germs and prevent infections from spreading in your home. Whether you want to clean food residue or eliminate harmful bacteria, you can use this guide to learn how to clean granite countertops and other kitchen materials.
What Cleans Granite Countertops?
You can use any of the following materials to clean your granite surfaces in the kitchen:
- Several clean, microfiber cloths: A microfiber cloth is one of the most efficient materials to use on granite countertops because it dries quickly, so it’s less likely to hold bacteria. When cleaning or disinfecting your countertops, you might want to have more than one cloth on hand for drying the surface.
- Warm water: Whether you put your towel in a bucket or run it in the sink, it should be wet with warm water. The heat is more effective at killing germs, so you can better prevent the spread of disease.
- Mild dishwashing liquid: You don’t necessarily need special cleaners to get rid of residue on your granite countertops. Instead, you can use a mild detergent that doesn’t contain acidic citrus extract.
- Undiluted isopropyl rubbing alcohol: You can eliminate the germs on your countertops with isopropyl rubbing alcohol at a concentration of at least 70%. Avoid mixing it with water that could reduce its effectiveness.
- Sealant: You need to seal natural stone countertops to prevent liquid absorption and staining. It’s best to apply a specialized stone sealant about once a year or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Sealing it more frequently could result in stubborn debris on the surface.
- Baking soda: You can make a paste out of baking soda to remove oil-based stains from your countertops. It’s important to note that this substance is abrasive, so you shouldn’t let it sit on your countertops for that long.
- Hydrogen peroxide: As opposed to using baking soda to eliminate oil-based stains, hydrogen peroxide can help remove water-based ones. You can also use it to dissipate any pungent odors as a result of the grime on your countertops.
- Plastic wrap and tape: If you’re making a paste out of baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, you can let it sit on top of the stain and hold it down with plastic wrap and tape.
What Stains Granite Countertops?
Even if you have the right tools and substances, they can harm your natural stone surfaces instead of clean or disinfect them. Although, keep in mind that any granite counters installed by us will include a 15-year lifetime sealer that will prevent most stains. For most granite counters you may want to watch out for these substances and habits that will stain granite countertops:
- Sticky residue from food and beverages: Waiting to remove crumbs and grime can make your countertops more challenging to clean. Old food on your granite surfaces can grow bacteria that make you and your loved ones sick. As soon as you notice this harmful residue, clean it up to prevent infections and staining.
- Acidic or harsh cleaners: Even though you may want to disinfect your counters with a bleach solution, it’s best to avoid using this pungent product that could corrode your natural stone surfaces. You may also want to avoid cleaning with acidic substances, such as vinegar and lemon.
- Abrasive wiping materials: Most natural stone countertops are durable, but they’re not necessarily scratch resistant. Instead of using scouring pads and other abrasive materials to clean your surfaces, use a microfiber cloth or a soft-bristled brush.
- Dirty sponges: If you use a sponge to wash your dishes or wipe down your countertops, you need to disinfect it at least once every few days to prevent the spread of germs. You might want to upgrade to a brush or a silicone sponge that tends to hold fewer illnesses for better peace of mind.
- Neglecting to seal it: Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to apply a sealer to your countertop to prevent liquid stains. At Atlantic Custom Granite, we pre-treat our granite countertops with a lifelong seal, so you can save time and money on maintaining your natural stone surfaces.
- Wiping up the disinfectant spray too quickly: To get rid of the germs on your countertops, you must let the cleaner sit according to the manufacturer’s recommended dwell time. The chemicals in the disinfectant need time to kill any bacteria that has grown.
- Letting your countertops stay wet: When you use commercial or homemade cleaners on your countertops, remember to wipe them dry with a clean microfiber cloth to prevent staining and streaking.
- Storing cleaning supplies on your countertops: It’s a good idea to have all your cleaning supplies in one spot, but you might want to avoid storing them on your countertops. The container of your harsh chemicals could leak all over the surface without you even realizing it, potentially contaminating your food supply. Instead, it’s better to store your toxic commercial cleaners under the sink.
Cleaning and Disinfection Process
To prolong your kitchen countertops’ lifespan and prevent viruses from spreading to you and your family, you can follow these simple cleaning and disinfecting tips.
How to Clean Granite Countertops
Here is a step-by-step guide for removing food residue from your granite countertops each day:
- Clear the area: Take your small appliances and food supply off your countertops to reach every part of them. Wash your used dish towels, and dispose of old, grimy sponges to prevent mold growth and the spread of bacteria.
- Mix warm water with mild detergent: Combine the appropriate amount of dishwashing soap with water in a sink, bucket, or spray bottle.
- Wet your microfiber cloth: Dip or spray your microfiber cloth with the soapy water to make it wet, but not dripping. If you use too much water, you might stain the countertop surface.
- Wipe down the countertops: Use the microfiber cloth to remove the stains, crumbs, or residue you notice on the surface.
- Dry the surface with another cloth: Take a clean, dry microfiber cloth and wipe down your countertops to prevent streaking. You may also want to treat them with a granite polisher.
How to Disinfect Granite Countertops
After you’ve gotten rid of the food residue and liquid stains, you can kill germs to keep you and your loved ones healthy with these tips:
- Gather your disinfectant cleaning products: You may invest in a commercial disinfecting spray or make one at home to get rid of the germs on your countertop without ruining the finish.
- Create the cleaner in a spray bottle: Mix the appropriate amount of water and cleaning agent into a spray bottle so you can easily apply it to your countertop.
- Spray the whole countertop: You’ll need to use the cleaner on the entire surface, including hard-to-reach places, to get rid of the germs effectively.
- Wait for the appropriate dwell time: Allow the cleaner to soak on your countertop according to the recommended time on the bottle. If you made your cleaner at home, you might want to wait at least a few minutes before wiping off the solution.
- Wipe the surfaces with a clean, dry cloth: After you’ve waited for the appropriate dwell time, you can use a clean, dry cloth to remove the excess moisture from your countertops. To prevent the spread of germs, you should throw all the microfiber cloths you used in the washer and clean them as soon as possible.
What to Consider When Cleaning Quartz Countertops
Quartz is a durable, low-maintenance engineered stone that you may want to use for your kitchen countertops. It tends to be resistant to stains, and you don’t need to reseal it. However, you may want to keep these tips in mind as you clean and take care of it:
- Use warm, soapy water and non-abrasive brushes: As with granite countertops, you can easily clean your quartz surfaces with a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Even though quartz is resistant to scratches, rough materials like scouring pads and hard-bristled brushes could cause streaks or dull the polished finish.
- For stubborn stains, use glass cleaner: Window cleaners can effectively clean glass, but they’re also useful for removing oily or greasy stains from quartz countertops. Only use enough to get rid of the residue, or you could damage the finish. After you’ve applied it and waited for the appropriate dwell time, you can wipe it with a paper towel or soft cloth.
- Scrape off hardened stains: Remove stubborn residue — such as paint, gum, sticky food and nail polish — with a plastic putty knife.
- Get rid of cooking grease: Cooking oil might stick to your engineered stone’s surface without you even realizing it. To loosen and remove the grime from your delicious meal, use a kitchen degreaser, following the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
- Avoid permanent writing utensils: During arts and crafts, put down placemats or kraft paper to protect your quartz countertops from permanent markers and other writing utensils. You can use a heavy-duty adhesive remover if you need to get rid of a permanent marker stain on your countertop.
- Disinfect your countertops every few months: Quartz is a durable material that can prevent bacterial growth if you wash your countertops daily with soap and water. However, every few months, you may want to deep clean your quartz countertops to get rid of the potential for germs or illnesses. During seasons where viruses are more common, you might want to disinfect them more often. You can use a commercial or household cleaner and let it sit for the appropriate dwell time before wiping it dry.
- Avoid using acidic cleaners: Engineered quartz contains natural stone pieces and a resin that binds them together. Acidic materials with citrus extract or high alkaline levels could damage the bond between the resin and quartz pieces. Instead of using acidic cleaners or harsh chemicals, you can use soap and water to keep your countertops clean.
Advice for Cleaning Laminate or Wood Countertops
Laminate is a cost-effective, durable material made from a combination of plastic and paper fibers. Butcher block is an assembled wood countertop that’s also easy to maintain and can be a suitable place to prepare food.
Here are some tips for cleaning and taking care of your laminate or wood countertops:
- Clean them daily with soap and water: You can wipe a mild dishwashing detergent or commercial cleaner with a soft cloth. It may help to use a soft toothbrush to clean those hard-to-reach seams and metal edging around your countertops. Rinse with a modest amount of clean water and dry with a soft, microfiber cloth.
- Avoid using too much water: A mild detergent and warm water may be effective at cleaning laminate countertops, but be careful not to use too much water, especially near the seams. Moisture can get underneath your countertops, swelling and cracking the laminate material. When cleaning your countertops, make sure that you dry them as soon as possible to prevent costly damage.
- Use mild products and soft brushes: Avoid using harsh cleaners like bleach or commercial product to prevent the laminate’s etching or discoloring. As with the other countertop materials, using abrasive brushes or sponges could scratch the surface and leave permanent marks.
- Remove stains with baking soda: Make a paste of baking soda and warm water to eliminate stubborn stains on your laminate and wood countertops. Secure the paste on your countertop with plastic wrap and tape. Depending on the stain’s severity, you may want to allow the paste to sit on the blemish overnight. Once the paste has set and removed the residue, you can rinse it off with a soft cloth and water. Since baking soda is mildly abrasive, you should avoid scrubbing it over your counters.
- Wipe up spills immediately: Laminate or wood can stain, warp and crack when it comes into contact with excess moisture. It may help to use coasters when you place drinks on your countertops, and if you notice a spill, clean it up as soon as possible.
- Deep clean with vinegar: You may be able to use undiluted vinegar to clean butcher block and laminate countertops. However, if you let this acidic material sit on the surface for too long, it can erode and damage the adhesive holding your counter together. Instead, only use enough vinegar to get rid of the stain and bacteria, and clean it up right away.
Reach Out to Us to Learn More About Stone Countertop Materials
If you’re looking for low-maintenance stone kitchen countertops, consider visiting our showroom or viewing our gallery for inspiration. Atlantic Custom Granite & Marble uses a 15-year lifetime sealer on every granite countertop. We’ll provide you with the resources you need to take care of your brand-new surfaces. For more information about our products, contact us online or call 717-244-3494.