How to Clean Granite Countertops
Granite is a quarried stone that combines unique natural beauty and durability for interior and exterior surfacing applications. Each slab varies in uniformity, veining, tonal quality, pits, and fissures. These are all natural characteristics of the stone and considered desirable.
During the manufacturing process each granite slab is subjected to several finishing processes with abrasive pads that grind and buff the surface. This process determines the surface finish of the granite slab such as honed or polished. The type of finish one selects is determined by the intended application of the granite and personal aesthetic preference. For example, a honed finish has a satin or matte appearance with very low sheen and “soft” feel, but can be more porous than other finishes and may show temporary water marks when wet on dark coloured surfaces. Conversely, a polished finish has a glossy reflective appearance and lower porosity that requires less frequent topical treatments. Each type of finish may require special care consideration.
In this post we will dispel any myths and highlight the do’s and don’ts of granite care and maintenance, specifically for polished finishes.
What to Do
General cleaning couldn’t be easier: simply use a soft cloth and warm water. It’s important to wipe any spills in a timely manner, such as cooking oils and especially spills containing acidic substances like: wine, coffee, fruit juices, tomato sauce and soda, which can etch the polish of the surface. For extra cleaning use a specially formulated granite countertop cleaner with a neutral pH.
Use Trivets & Hot Pads
Like all types of stone countertops, your granite can be damaged by sudden changes in temperate like exposure to extreme heat, as well as direct sustained heat. While granite can withstand the heat from laying a hot pot off the stove, it’s recommended to use trivets or hot pads.
Use Cutting Boards & coasters
Cutting on your countertop raises the potential for scratching and it will dull your knives. Play it safe and use a cutting board or cutting mat. Use coasters under drinks containing alcohol or citrus to prevent unnoticed spills.
What Not to Do
Cork Your Chemical Cleaners
Never use abrasive cleaning agents, scrubbing pads, strong alkaline or acidic cleaners on your countertops. Never expose the countertop to harsh cleaning agents and caustic chemicals like bleach, drain cleaners, paint strippers, silver cleaners, or oven cleaners. All these agents can have the effect of dulling your countertops finish, etching, and discolouring the surface. They may even void your warranty.
Put the Generic Cleaners Away Too
Using Windex, Pledge or Simple Green to clean your granite will make it appear shiny, but over time generic cleaners will erode the sealer and may damage the surface. Use a dedicated granite cleaner with a neutral pH if warm water isn’t enough. When cleaning mirrors over your granite vanity top, be mindful of glass cleaner over-spray getting on your countertops.
Natural & Organic Doesn’t Mean Safe
Do not use vinegar, lemon juice or other citrus cleaners. These substances are acidic and will deteriorate the sealer and dull the beautiful polished finish.
Keep Your Feet & Seat Off
Never stand or sit on your countertop. Though granite is an extremely strong and dense material, it does not flex, and too much weight in one spot could cause a crack.
To Seal or Not to Seal
A properly fabricated and installed granite countertop should come professional sealed. Our preferred partner applies a high-quality commercial sealer that prevents deep penetration of all common household food and drink pills.
Using a store bought sealing product annually to keep your stone looking glossy and protected is not required, but can’t hurt. Generally every 3-5 years your granite will be due for a professional sealing, but how can you be sure?
The Water Test
A simple method of determining whether your granite countertop requires sealing is “the water test”. Splash several drops of water onto your countertop. If the water beads up, that area of your countertop is still in great condition. If the water is absorbed, it’s time to re-seal them.
Lighter colors typically require a bit more care than dark. A general rule of thumb is to wipe any spills in a timely manner. Clean only with a soft cloth and warm water. Use coasters. Don’t stand, sit, cut, or place hot items on your countertop, but if you have to place a hot pan on it the surface won’t scorch. Use the water test every 3-5 years to check if your countertop requires professional resealing.
Check out more guides from our series on Countertop Care & Maintenance.