How To: Clean Granite Countertops
To maintain its glossy shine, granite should be cleaned regularly—and carefully. Here's how.
In many people’s minds, granite means strength and resilience. But if you want to know how to clean granite countertops successfully, the watchword is caution. The stone can actually be damaged by many of the products and techniques that are perfectly safe to use on other kitchen surfaces. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out how to clean granite countertops properly; the job just requires a bit of extra care and attention. Follow the steps outlined here, and you’re bound to be satisfied with the result of your efforts.
STEP 1: Squirt dish soap into a soft sponge.
For regular cleaning, your best bet is nothing more sophisticated than mild dish soap that’s been diluted with water. (Although there is a homemade granite cleaner you can make with a base of rubbing alcohol.) Wet a sponge with water from the tap and squirt dish soap into its center. Bear in mind, however, that because granite scratches easily, the solution ought to be applied with a soft sponge, or even a microfiber cloth—that is, not with an abrasive scrubber.
STEP 2: Wring out excess water.
Massage the sponge or cloth until you see suds, then wring it out so as not to compromise the highly absorbent stone (it can become discolored beneath standing water).
STEP 3: Wipe the counters.
Gently wipe across the entire countertop in small, circular motions. Dried-on food splatter might require a little more elbow grease, but stick to this non-abrasive method unless you have a stain. (Dealing with a stain? That’s a different story; see the next section for how to clean granite countertops that have been stained by standing water or oil.)
STEP 4: Dry granite countertops completely.
Dry off the countertop, not only to protect the granite from water damage but also to eliminate streaks and leave the surface with an eye-catching, irresistible shine.
Removing Stains from Granite Countertops
Don’t panic! Most of the time, stained granite countertops can be cleaned with household items so common that you probably already have them in your pantry. No matter the source of the stain, start with baking soda. If you wish to clean a water stain, mix the baking soda with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl. For an oil-based stain, mix the baking soda with water. In either case, the mixture should generate a thick paste. Generously spoon and spread that over the stain, then cover the area with plastic wrap, taping down its edges. Leave the homemade stain remover overnight (or even for a couple of days), before rinsing and wiping down the granite.
Adding Protection to Granite Countertops
Most installations of granite are protected by a layer of sealant. If you’ve repeatedly tried and failed to remove stains from your counters, chances are that the sealant has ceased to function as it should. In situations where the sealant is to blame, stained granite becomes difficult or impossible to clean, at least for the average do-it-yourselfer. Your best bet is to hire a professional to completely clean and then properly reseal the stone, thereby preventing future problems.
If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid stains so far but want to know the extent of your countertop’s protection, test whether or not it’s sealed. Spoon out just a few drops of water onto the surface, and keep your hydrogen peroxide and baking soda at the ready. Give it a few minutes. You want to see the water bead up atop the protective seal; that means it’s strong. But, if the water penetrates the granite, address the stain quickly with the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste described above (under “Stain Removal”) and schedule a time to reseal the slab.
Stay Clear of Specific Cleaners
Keep these cleaners far away!
- Household acids including vinegar, lemon, lime, and citrus
- Ammonia or ammonia-based cleaners like Windex
- Steel wool
- Scrubby sponges
They’re bad news for the gloss of your granite as well as the protection—over time, they will etch, dull, and even weaken the surface sealant.