Granite countertops are a major expense in a kitchen and you expect them to last quite a long time. To preserve your investment – and the beauty of this gorgeous stone – it quite literally pays to learn how to clean granite the right way. This is especially important for granite countertops because like other types of stone, granite is porous and some types of products and cleaning methods could damage the surface.
Taking time to learn how to clean granite does not have to be difficult or time-consuming: A little education and preparation go a long way.
Why Does Granite Need Special Care?
Without a doubt, granite makes for a gorgeous kitchen countertop, but as we already said, it is a natural stone and is porous. Although it’s less porous than other stone options, it needs to be properly sealed. Most granite is sealed before it’s installed, but you’ll want to do this periodically because sealers wear off and can leave the granite more susceptible to serious stains and damage.
What Can Stain Granite?
Granite that is not properly sealed can be stained – sometimes permanently – making this a crucial step. The things that can be most hazardous to granite are wine, juices or oils, which can create a stain that’s challenging to remove. If you don’t notice the spill or skip wiping it up right away, it could be permanent. Even standing water can create stains. Granite countertops that aren’t well sealed can also harbor bacteria.
How to Clean Granite
As with most things, regular cleaning and maintenance will help avoid major projects for stain removal or repairs. So, gather your supplies and follow the steps below to make your granite kitchen countertops gleam:
What Supplies Do I Need to Clean Granite?
Lots of specialty cleaners are available for cleaning granite, but you can do a great job with things that you probably already have in your home:
- Mild dish soap
- Microfiber cloths (3)
- Soft sponge
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Plastic wrap
The Basic Granite Cleaning Steps
- Simple soap and water. When it comes to regular cleaning, it’s nothing complicated or out-of-the-ordinary: You just need dish soap and water. Grab your soft sponge, wet it with plain water and add some dish soap. Be sure that you are using a soft sponge and never an abrasive one because a scrubber can scratch the granite. You’re better off using a soft cloth than a sponge with an abrasive surface.
- Not too much water. Before you start wiping down your countertops, work up some suds in the sponge and then squeeze out the excess water. Too much water can discolor granite if left to sit on the surface.
- Use a circular motion. Now, take that sponge and wipe down the counters using a circular motion. If you run across sticky areas or dried on food, you’ll need to rub a little harder to remove it. If you find a stain that needs extra attention, don’t panic! We have steps you can follow for stain removal below.
- Dry the granite surfaces. After you’ve wiped down the counters, you need to dry them to prevent water damage and staining. This step also shines up the surface. You can then go back and treat any stains separately.
How to Clean Granite Stains
Cleaning granite doesn’t require specialty granite products and neither does basic stain removal. The household supplies listed above are really all you need. If you can. Determine what created the stain, you can better target your cleaning to be more effective if the cause needs special treatment.
Whatever type of stain you’re dealing with, start with the basic stain removal process that uses baking soda. This method should take care of water or juice stains. All you have to do combine baking soda and a little hydrogen peroxide in a bowl and mix to create a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. Spoon a good amount onto the counter and spread it out across the stain. (Don’t be skimpy!) Take a piece of plastic wrap and cover the whole area and use tape to secure the edges to the counter. Let this set-up sit overnight or longer before you rinse off and dry the countertop. If the stain is particularly persistent, you can leave this in place for a day or two.
If you’re dealing with an oil-based stain, instead of using hydrogen peroxide, mix the baking soda with water and follow the same procedure.
Call the Professionals
If you’ve tried these methods and the stain is still stubborn, you’ll need to call in a professional who can safely remove a resistant stain. This area will likely need to be resealed too.
A Dose of Caution
Countless household cleaners are advertised as being suitable for multiple surfaces and these may indeed do the job in the short term, but in the longer term can damage the surface of your granite dull the finish and weaken the sealer. When it comes to the best way for how to clean granite, make sure that you stay away from certain products.
Never use these on granite:
- Citrus acids like lemon and lime that strip the sealant from the surface.
- It’s a great multipurpose household cleaner but NOT for granite.
- Windex and other cleaners that contain ammonia. These make the granite more susceptible to staining.
- Abrasive cleaners or abrasive sponges.
Can I Disinfect Granite?
Yes! But once again, the best thing to use is something that you can mix up yourself: Water and isopropyl alcohol. Just combine equal parts in a spray bottle. You can spray a little on the granite and wipe it dry.
An Ounce of Prevention
Just as regular cleaning will keep your granite countertops beautiful and shiny, a little prevention will go a long way in preventing stains and preserving the good looks of your granite surfaces.
- Speed is of the essence. Act quickly to wipe up spills when they occur, especially anything that might stain the surface like wine, coffee, citrus and tomato-based foods.
- Blot don’t smear. When cleaning up a spill on granite, blot up the liquid instead of wiping, which can spread the liquid over a larger area.
- Clear the counter. Avoid storing things that can stain granite on the counter. This includes wine and oils in the kitchen and make-up and body oils in the bathroom.
- Use coasters! This is a key habit you want to start anyway, but particularly if you have granite countertops. Coasters will keep the condensation on glasses from collecting on the surface and creating a water stain.
How Do I Know if I Need to Seal the Granite?
We’ve mentioned the need to periodically seal granite countertops, and most experts say this should be done about once a year or when you notice the existing sealant is weakening. One way to tell whether you need to seal the granite is by how long. It takes a few drops of water to disappear from the surface. If this takes five minutes or less, then you’ll want to consider resealing the surface. To do this, you need to purchase a commercial granite sealer.
The time to do this is right after you clean the granite and dry it. Use a soft cloth to wipe the entire surface using alcohol or acetone. Next, apply the sealer according to the directions and let it dry as instructed. Finally, wipe everything with a clean, dry cloth. You might need to do this in an area where you treated a stubborn stain too.
Overall, knowing how to clean granite is a great thing because it will preserve the beauty of the stone with little extra effort. It’s more a case of knowing what to do – as well as what not to do – to keep granite countertops clean and shiny.