How to Clean Granite Countertops

Though granite is very durable, there's a long list of products that shouldn't be used to clean it. Keep your countertops looking their best by learning the best way to clean granite.

By Teresa Odle and Bob Vila | Updated Feb 27, 2022 5:23 PM

how to clean granite countertops

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In many people’s minds, granite symbolizes 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 cleaning products and techniques that are perfectly safe to use on other kitchen surfaces.

Cleaning granite countertops doesn’t take special skill; the job just requires a bit of extra care and attention. Follow the steps outlined here for how to clean granite countertops, and you’re bound to be satisfied with the result of your efforts.

STEP 1: Squirt dish soap or granite cleaner onto a soft sponge.

For regular granite cleaning, the best cleaner is nothing more sophisticated than mild dish soap diluted with water. (You can also make a homemade granite cleaner made with a base of rubbing alcohol.) Wet a sponge with water from the tap and squirt dish soap into its center.

Bear in mind that granite scratches easily. It’s important to apply the solution with a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth, and never with an abrasive scrubber. The same general rules apply when using a commercial granite cleaner. When using a commercial product, be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.

STEP 2: Wring out excess water.

Massage the sponge or cloth until you see suds, then wring it out so water does not pool on the highly absorbent stone, which can discolor beneath standing water. (You can skip this step if you are using a granite cleaner.)

STEP 3: Wipe the counters.

Gently wipe the whole countertop in small, circular motions. Dried-on food splatter might require a little more elbow grease, but proceed with this nonabrasive technique unless the counter is stained. (Dealing with a stain? See instructions below for how to clean stained granite.)

how to clean granite countertops

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STEP 4: Dry granite countertops completely.

Dry the countertops carefully with a soft cloth. This protects the granite from water damage and can eliminate streaks, leaving the surface shiny and clean.

STEP 5. Apply baking soda or granite stain remover to spots.

To clean stained granite you can either use either a homemade baking soda-based paste or a commercial granite stain treatment, like Hope’s Perfect. After your initial cleaning, apply granite stain remover to any remaining spots. If you’re using baking soda, treat water and oil stains differently:

  • To treat a water-based stain, mix the baking soda with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. 
  • For an oil-based stain, mix the baking soda with water to form a paste. 

Generously spoon and spread your paste over the stain and then cover the area with plastic wrap, taping down its edges. Leave the homemade stain remover on overnight, or even for a couple of days. Once the paste is dry, gently scrape it away with a plastic scraper before rinsing and wiping the granite.

Tough stains that remain might require you to repeat the steps above a few times to lift the stain. If the surface appears etched, apply a granite polish and buff the spot with a burlap or felt pad to restore its appearance.

how to clean granite countertops

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Tips for Granite Countertop Maintenance 

Removing Stains From Granite Counters

Granite countertop care inevitably requires treating stains now and then, especially on white granite kitchen countertops. Most of the time, stained granite can be cleaned with common products that are already in your pantry. No matter the source of the stain, start with baking soda.

In reality, use of a daily cleaner that you can simply spray on and wipe off can help prevent stains from occurring on any countertop surface. If you want only one granite-cleaning product in your cupboard, choose an all-in-one product like Weiman Disinfectant Granite Daily Clean & Shine, or a commercial granite cleaner that says it also can tackle stains. To further shield your granite countertops, purchase a granite sealer.

If your regular granite countertop care routine fails to stop staining, and your homemade methods for removing stains do not work, you might need to choose a commercial stain remover (typically in a poultice form) or call in a professional.

how to clean granite countertops

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When It’s Time to Reseal Granite Countertops

Regular sealing is something else you can do to protect your countertops from stains. Most installed granite comes presealed but if you’ve repeatedly tried and failed to remove stains from your granite, it may need to be resealed.

It’s easy enough to test whether your granite countertops need to be resealed. Spoon out just a few drops of water onto the surface, and wait about 15 minutes. If water beads up atop the protective seal; that means the sealant is strong. If the water penetrates the granite, however, address the water stain quickly with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste as described in Step 5 above and schedule a time to reseal the granite slab.

Steer Clear of These Granite Countertop Cleaners

Some homemade and commercial cleaners actually can harm your granite countertops. All-purpose commercial cleaners might contain chemicals that can etch or dull stone like granite, and some items from your pantry can react with the stone, even stripping the sealer away. Steer clear of the following:

  • Household acids including vinegar, lemon, lime, and citrus, which can etch granite
  • Ammonia or ammonia-based cleaners like Windex, which also are acidic
  • Bleach if used at full strength, which dulls the finish; if you must use bleach, dilute it first.
  • Hydrogen peroxide as described above is OK for occasional use; don’t rely on it for regular cleaning
  • Steel wool, which can cause scratches
  • Scrubby sponges, which are also too abrasive
  • Disinfecting wipes, which can contain citric acid (choose a granite cleaner or dish soap and a soft cloth instead)
  • Commercial products with lemon scents, which might contain citric acid

Over time, use of these ingredients can etch and dull granite and cause the sealer on the stone to weaken. Abundant sunlight also can cut through sealer, so consider closing blinds to protect spots on the countertop that receive daily rays.

Final Thoughts

It’s common for homeowners to install new granite countertops when they update their kitchens; white granite countertops in particular rank high for their clean and classic appearance. Knowing how to clean granite countertops can help protect your investment. The key to cleaning granite is to stick with mild or granite-specific cleaners. Also key is avoiding use of harsh cleaners and ingredients like citric acid.

Remember that this tough stone can scratch easily, and that a soft cloth is a key component to granite countertop maintenance. Use it for daily cleaning and stain removal—never use steel wool or other abrasive scrubbers on granite. Finally, be sure to keep your granite sealed to prevent etching and staining.

how to clean granite countertops

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FAQs About  Cleaning Granite Countertops

Once you select a homemade or commercial granite countertop cleaner that works and causes no harm, you can keep stains away and maintain the stone’s gorgeous natural finish. Questions still can arise, so see the answers to common concerns below.

Q. Is granite porous?

Natural granite is porous, which is the reason a sealer is important. The stone can absorb liquids, but a sealer keeps liquids from soaking in too quickly, causing damage or stains. It is important to check regularly to make sure the sealer is intact and to have countertops resealed as needed.

Q. What’s a good granite stain remover?

Baking soda mixed with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide is an easy fix to address a stain quickly. If dealing with an oil-based stain, you can mix the baking soda with water.

Many commercial products like Weiman granite cleaner include stain removal (and prevention) in their list of features. If a few tries with homemade or all-in-one solutions fail to do the trick, try a commercial stain-removal poultice or call in a pro.

Q. What cleaners are hands-down safe for granite?

A mild dish soap is the handiest cleaner you have that is safe for granite. Alternatively, consider a commercial cleaner that’s specifically formulated for granite. Many natural cleaning products are also safe for use on this surface, but read the label for confirmation before using them.

When cleaning granite, use caution with all-purpose cleaning products; many contain citric acid, ammonia, or other ingredients that can dull or ruin granite. No matter what product you use to keep your granite clean, avoid applying it with abrasive cleaning pads—opt instead for a soft microfiber cloth.

Q. How do you get the shine back on granite countertops?

The best way to make sure your countertops shine is by addressing spills as they happen; cleaning spills regularly with a mild, granite-safe cleaner; and maintaining its seal. Mild dish soap can build up, so you should regularly use a granite cleaner that contains some polish to maintain its shine. If you notice dulling, learn how to polish granite countertops and check the sealer to be sure it is intact. Then reseal the surface or call in a pro to do the job.

Q. How do you disinfect granite?

Regular cleaning with dish soap (which has antibacterial properties), warm water, and a soft cloth can keep germs from building up. To kill germs on granite, mix 4 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol and four drops of dishwashing soap in a clean 1-liter spray bottle, and then fill the bottle with warm water. Spray the granite and wipe it with a clean, soft cloth. Avoid using bleach, ammonia, or disinfecting wipes on granite.