If you’ve never had granite countertops, then you may be used to simply cleaning your counters with whatever cleanser you happen to have on hand. Maybe you prefer to use natural products like vinegar and baking soda, or maybe you like products made by Mr. Clean. Regardless of what you’re used to using, however, when it comes to granite, not every product out there is safe to use on your stone.
Granite and other natural stones are very susceptible to damage that can be caused by many of the cleaning products you probably have in your home right now. Learn what not to use on your stone to avoid this damage, and start using a safe product instead.
Three Products to Avoid Using on Granite
The list of materials that can never be used on a granite countertop is extremely long. Basically, anything that is not perfectly PH neutral is going to harm your stone in some way. This includes any product – natural, man-made, or homemade – that contains anything acidic or alkaline such as lemon or citric acid. In addition, you want to avoid using the following products on your stone:
Bleach: While bleach is a great disinfectant, it can dull the finish of your granite and in some cases even change its color. There are other, safer, ways to disinfect your stone, so avoid bleach and any products that contain it when cleaning your granite.
Glass Cleanser: Glass cleaners such as Windex may look like a good choice to use on the glossy finish of your granite counter. They’re made to remove things like fingerprints and they leave a streak-free shine. However, they can also dull the finish of your granite, and they can dull it in a patchy, uneven way that will make certain areas appear more noticeable to you in the future.
Formula 409: Formula 409 is a popular bathroom cleaner that can disinfect, remove soap scum, and give your porcelain and ceramics a bright shine. Unfortunately, Formula 409 contains many substances that can damage the surface of your granite. So, even if your granite is installed in a bathroom, avoid using traditional bathroom cleansers like this when the time comes to clean your stone.
Why Avoid These Products
If you already have these cleansers in your home, you may be tempted to use them once in a while, particularly since you don’t always notice the damage that you are doing to your stone right away. Unfortunately, even a single application of any alkaline or acidic substance to your granite will do irreparable harm to the surface.
This is because both acids and alkalines remove the weaker particles of the stone up at the surface. This is called etching, and when the weaker particles of the stone are removed, you get a dull spot where they once were. This can happen even on honed stone surfaces, but is most apparent on a polished or glossy finish.
The only way to fix an etched countertop is to have it ground down and refinished – an expensive and inconvenient process. Etching is very avoidable, however, particularly if keep your stone sealed and use only PH neutral cleansers each and every time.
How to Care For Your Granite
So, if you can’t use many traditional cleaning products on your granite, what can you use? Water and a microfiber towel will clean about 90% of the dirt and surface debris from your granite. Use water and a microfiber towel for most of your day-to-day cleansing needs or when you just need to wipe it down.
Cleaning with the right products is a great first step to keeping your countertops in pristine condition. There are a couple more simple steps you should be taking, however.
The first is to always clean spills up quickly. If you spill tomato sauce on granite it’s not going to damage it right away. Unless something incredibly caustic like battery acid comes in contact with your stone the damage will happen slowly.
As you’re cooking keep a damp sponge or cloth nearby and wipe up spills as they happen.
The next step is to seal your granite. Granite sealer protects your stone in the same way that wax protects the finish on your car. It creates a thin invisible barrier on the surface of your countertop which keeps moisture and stains from penetrating.
This is an important step that a lot of people skip. But in most cases when people end up with a stain they weren’t properly sealing the surface and they let the spill sit on the counter overnight.
Caring for your Natural Stone
Let’s start with products to buy. Home Depot sells a few different sealers. The most popular are made by “Granite Gold” and “Stone Care International”. Either one of those are fine choices.
We prefer Bayes Granite Rejuvenator which will clean, shine and protect. You won’t find it at Home Depot or Lowe’s but it’s available from Action Unlimited Resources.
It’s more expensive than the sealers you can buy at the big box home improvement stores but it’s well worth the investment, and at around $10 for a bottle that will last a while it’s not going to break the bank.
Application is easy. First clean large soil and crumbs from your countertop and then use the Bayes Granite Rejuvenator which will clean, shine and protect.
These are general instructions to give you an idea of how easy it is to do, so check the label on whichever sealer you buy because the instructions may vary a bit from brand to brand.
About The Author
Scott holds a degree in Architectural Engineering and writes for his wife’s website Architypes.net. His favorite room in any building is always the kitchen but unfortunately it’s also one of the most expensive to remodel. This year he financed a remodel for his own kitchen and learned that there many different ways to finance a kitchen remodel.