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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 clean granite countertops; 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.
Your best bet is nothing more sophisticated than mild dish soap that’s been diluted with water. Bear in mind, however, that because granite scratches easily, the solution ought to be applied with a cotton cloth or soft sponge—that is, not with an abrasive scrubber. Before gently wiping down the counter, wring out the cloth or sponge so as not to compromise the highly absorbent stone (it can become discolored under standing water). Dry off the countertop as a final stage in this routine, not only to protect the granite from water damage but also to eliminate streaks and leave the surface with an eye-catching, irresistible shine.
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. For an oil-based stain, mix the baking soda with water. In either case, the mixture should generate a thick paste. Generously spread that over the stain, then cover the area with plastic wrap, taping down its edges. Leave the stain remover overnight (or even for a couple of days), before rinsing and wiping down the granite.
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.