With their chic, timeless style and wide variety of colors and patterns, granite countertops are one of the most popular kitchen surfaces. There are plenty of benefits to installing granite for your kitchen counters, not the least of which is the relatively simple maintenance. Even so, there are some tips and tricks that can help you keep your granite looking top-notch day in and day out. Use this guide to cleaning and maintaining your granite countertops to help your surfaces hold up well over time.
Wipe It Down Often
Keeping your granite countertops mess-free is the most important part of maintaining this kitchen surface. Every time you use the kitchen, be sure to wipe up messes as you go, especially those from acidic substances such as wine, coffee, soda, fruit juice, and tomato sauce. The acid in these liquids can potentially stain the counters, so you don’t want to leave those messes sitting there for long.
When wiping the counters, use a soft microfiber cloth that is either dry or wet only with water. You should avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. These types of products, including vinegar, bleach, and Windex, can potentially scratch the surface permanently. If you do need a little extra help with a tricky spot, use a stone cleaner formulated with a neutral pH, or try scrubbing with some warm, soapy water and a soft sponge.
You may also want to disinfect your granite countertops periodically. To do this, mix equal parts of water and 91 percent isopropyl alcohol together, and pour it in an empty spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the granite and allow it to sit for three to five minutes. Then, rinse the surface with water and dry it with a clean microfiber cloth.
Work at the Stains
Because it’s a type of stone, granite can stain when exposed to acidic substances or oils. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple remedy you can try for lifting the stain out of the stone. Mix baking soda and water into a creamy paste. Use a soft cloth or a sponge to rub it into the stain gently; then rinse thoroughly with water. You might have to repeat these steps several times to get the stain to come out.
For an especially tough stain, you can actually apply the paste of baking soda and water over the spot and leave it there. Cover the area where you’ve applied the paste with plastic wrap and tape the edges to the counter with tape that can easily be removed. Keep it in place until the paste dries; often, you will need to leave it overnight or even for a day or two. Then, remove the plastic wrap, wipe away the paste with a soft cloth, and rinse the spot with water.
Add Some Shine
To give your granite a lovely glow, you can occasionally oil the surface. This gives it a glossy shine that’s especially attractive and can bring out the unique colors and patterns in your countertops.
Start by applying a small amount of cooking oil to a soft cleaning cloth. Wipe the oil across the countertops; then go back and gently buff the entire surface. In addition to creating a nice sheen on the surface, this actually helps your granite countertops to resist staining.
Reseal If Necessary
Resealing granite countertops is another maintenance task you’ll need to task care of. However, not all granite surfaces need to be resealed, so some homeowners will be able to skip this step entirely. If you’re not sure whether your countertops need to be resealed, there’s a simple test you can perform to figure it out.
Spill a bit of water on the surface to create a small puddle. If the water beads up immediately, you don’t need to reseal your countertops at this time. However, if the water starts to sink into the granite and leaves a dark spot, you should get your countertops resealed soon.
Hire professionals to reseal your countertops when needed; resealing the granite on your own is not something that would make a good DIY project. Generally, granite countertops should be resealed every two to four years.
Check for Repairs
Most of the work you’ll do maintaining your granite countertops revolves around the day-to-day cleanup of little spills and messes. But about once a year, you should take some time to inspect your entire counter area closely to look for any potential issues.
Check for stains and scratches along the surface. You may need to shine a bright light on it or look at it from a side angle to see if any scratches are present. Pay close attention to the seams and edges of the countertops as well. These areas are the most vulnerable to cracking and shifting.
If you do notice stains, scratches, cracks, or other issues, call a stone-care professional. You don’t want to put off repairing any damaged spots; delaying treatment can make the damage worse and increase the eventual repair costs. If your countertops become too damaged, you may need to replace them entirely.
Tips for Proper Granite Care
In addition to the regular and ongoing maintenance for granite countertops described above, there are a few items you can use on a daily basis to help protect this important surface in your kitchen, including:
- Coasters: Placing coasters under glasses, bottles, cans, and other items that could potentially scratch or leave moisture on the surface is a smart move for keeping your granite countertops in good shape.
- Trivets: Technically, you can place hot pots and pans directly on a granite counter right after taking it off the stove. But if you want your counters to last, use trivets and hot pads instead. In rare cases, granite can experience a crack as the result of the thermal shock from a hot pan.
- Cutting boards: Always cut on a cutting board and not directly on the stone. Granite can be scratched while cutting and can also damage your knives’ edges.
To keep your granite countertops looking stylish, follow this guide for proper maintenance. With a few simple steps, you can help protect your granite from damage.