Granite countertops are an investment in your home. To ensure that they continue to look great and improve the value of your home for years, follow a proper maintenance schedule. Learning the best ways to remove stains, seal the stone and clean it on a daily basis will keep your granite in its just installed state.
Granite Countertop Maintenance Tips
Daily granite countertop care is as easy as cleaning with a gentle cleanser like Murphy's Oil Soap or mild dishwashing liquid. If needed you can use a synthetic scrubbing pad to clean your granite counter. With the proper maintenance, granite countertops stay new-looking for a long time. Here are easy steps to follow:
- Wipe up spills immediately
- Use mild soap and water
- Use soft cloth to dry
Unfortunately, a lived-in kitchen will eventually experience a stain or two even on your granite counter. How to remove the stain will depend on what caused the stain. Use the suggestions found on the following chart:
|Stain||Treatment||How to Use|
|Most Stains||1 cup flour, 1-2 T mild dishwashing soap, create a thick paste by mixing with water||Apply to stain, cover overnight with plastic wrap, in the morning scrape mixture from stain with wooden utensil and rinse.|
|Oil based stains||1 cup flour, 1-2 T mild hydrogen peroxide, form a thick paste by mixing with water||Apply to stain, cover overnight with plastic wrap, in the morning scrape mixture from stain with wooden utensil and rinse.|
|Organic stains||Combine 12 percent hydrogen peroxide with 2-3 drops of ammonia||This should help to remove stains like coffee and tea.|
|Ink on dark granite||Lacquer thinner or acetone||Apply to stain.|
|Ink on light granite||Hydrogen peroxide||Apply to stain.|
|Wine||Make a mixture of molding plaster and bleach until it becomes a paste||Apply to stain for 30 minutes, remove and rinse.|
Resealing Granite Countertops
Before you reseal your granite countertops, check with the manufacturer or installer to be sure it is necessary. Most granite counters do need to be re-sealed on an annual basis, but not all of them require this.
However, for those that do require sealing to retain the color and clarity of the granite counter top, it is necessary to reseal the counter every six months to two years. Check with your installer to find what they recommend. How much you use your kitchen will play a part in how often it needs to be re-sealed. When you do re-seal, be sure to choose a non-toxic sealer, since counters are used for food preparation.
Two Types of Sealers
Two types of sealers can be found on the market. A penetrating sealer penetrates into the stone. The second, a topical sealer, does not penetrate but instead coats the top of the counter's surface.
- Penetrating sealers: Protecting the structure of natural stone, a penetrating sealer absorbs into the granite for three or four minutes. When almost dry, add a little more sealer to the counter and rub with a soft, dry rag. Apply to a section at a time. Wait two hours and apply a second coat. When shopping for your sealer, look for one that says it is an oil repellent impregnator, which will help stop oil from seeping into the stone.
- Topical sealers: These sealers form a film designed to protect the countertop's surface. Usually made from some form of natural wax, acrylic, and other plastic compounds. Topical sealers come in two types: strippable and permanent. Strippable sealers are made to be stripped or removed from the stone countertop with little work. Most often, often permanent sealers are not recommended for granite. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations when deciding what type of sealer is right for your counters.
Water Spill Test
Once you've sealed your counter, test it to be sure that it is adequately sealed. As a test, spill a little water on your countertop and leave it set. After 30 minutes, wipe it up. If the water leaves your counter darkened, the granite is not sufficiently sealed.
Warnings and Cautions for Countertop Maintenance
Because granite is so durable, it's easy to think you can use anything on it. However, this is not true if you really want to keep your counters in good condition. Avoid products with ingredients that include lemon, vinegar or other acids. In fact, it's a good idea to use coasters to protect your counter under glasses containing acidic drinks like alcohol or citrus juices.
And as a final note on granite countertop maintenance, remember that even though you can use harsher chemicals to clean your counter, doing so may dull or even etch the counter's finish. Stick with milder solutions and retain that natural beauty you fell in love with in the first place. Once you've applied a topical sealer, your maintenance really shifts to maintenance of the sealer.