Many homeowners still insist on having granite countertops in their homes today, despite the rising popularity of other materials. The top reason for this is the durability and natural beauty of granite, which engineered stones have yet to mimic successfully. Designers enjoy working with is as well because the robust colors and designs match well with many kitchen designs. As a result, granite countertops still add value to any home.
Generally, granite countertops are low maintenance, although some people maintain that quartz is a lot less trouble. This is primarily because granite has some level of porosity, which makes it less resistant to stains. Reasonable care and regular sealing mostly resolves this issue. For conscientious homeowners, it is important to know how to maintain granite countertops.
As with any type of countertop, the first order of the day is to clean it regularly. When it comes to granite countertops, the most important things to keep it free from liquids that might lead to unsightly stains.
Deal with any spills immediately, and blot them with a paper towel or soft cloth instead of wiping them to prevent the affected area from spreading. Make sure you remove any that escaped your notice during your daily wipe down. You should not take a complacent attitude in this because granite countertops usually hide most stains quite successfully. A stain is a stain, and your kitchen countertops should be free of it.
Fortunately, cleaning granite countertops is ridiculously easy. You just need a damp rag to wipe it down and a clean cloth for drying. You can use a mild solution of regular dishwashing liquid and water to remove any stubborn messes. Follow it with a water rinse and then a dry cloth.
Dealing with stains
If you still get stains on your granite countertops, the first thing you have to do is to identify the source of the stain. In most cases, you can tell by the color and texture as described below. The usual suspects include oil, coffee, fruits, and water. The best method to remove a stain will depend on the type of stain.
Do not think that commercial cleaners are always a good idea. Many of these contain strong chemicals that can further damage your stone. You should only use the chemicals mentioned in this article, and even then, you should use as little of them as possible. Your goal is to take out the stains, not create more problems.
After you have assessed the stain to identify the source, you can try one of the following methods to remove it. Each one is specific to a certain type of stain.
Ironically, one of the most common stains you will see on granite countertops is water. Municipal water often contains minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. This is particularly true in areas with “hard” water. While these minerals are not dangerous, they do leave a residue behind. You will see these whitish marks in spots where you left water to dry.
These white marks are quite hard to remove unless you have very fine steel wool. If you do, wet the spots slightly with water as a lubricant, and rub the spot gently with the steel wool. They should come off quite easily then. If you do not have any superfine steel wool, you can get them from the hardware or home depots marked #0000. This is specifically safe to use with natural stone.
All kitchens deal with oil on a regular basis, and accidental spills are not the only thing you have to manage. Oil splatter and food oils are common, so you have to keep a share eye on them. If some get away from you and cause stains on your granite countertops, you will know. An oil-based stain darkens the stone just below the surface, so no amount of rubbing on it will take it out. You have to draw it out.
The best way to do this is with a poultice, which is just another work for a paste or suspension. Baking soda absorbs oils very well, which is why it is also a good way to remove oil marks from clothes. Adding water allows it to penetrate into the granite to draw out the oil.
To make a poultice, mix baking soda with just enough water to get a consistency of peanut butter. Spread a thick layer of it on the oil stains and tape it off with plastic wrap. Leave the paste to dry completely, which should take about 24 hours.
Remove the plastic and gently scrape off the dried paste from your granite countertops and rinse it with water. Check if you successfully removed the stain. In some cases, you might have to repeat the process several times before it all comes off.
Once you are satisfied that it is off, apply an impregnating sealer on the area. The fact that there is a stain clearly indicates the old one is no longer intact.
Organic stains come from common liquids such as fruit juices, tea, and coffee. They leave behind a brownish mark that sits just on the surface. Despite this, it will not come out with regular cleaning.
You can use 12% hydrogen peroxide with two or three drops of ammonia to deal with this type of stain. Wet a cloth with the solution and rub at the stain with care. It should come out with little trouble.
As with water, soap leaves behind a residue as it dries. Most homeowners hate soap scum like anything because it coats the surface with a dull film. It is very hard to remove this once it sets. You can avoid this by rinsing the surface thoroughly after cleaning it with soap.
If you do get soap scum on your granite countertops, you can dissolve it with a weak solution of ammonia and water (1 Tbsp: 2 cups) in a sprayer. Mist the entire surface with the solution and allow it to sit for a few minute. Wipe it off with a clean cloth. You should immediately see a difference in the quality of the surface.
Many of the containers we use in the kitchen are metal, and these can rust quite quickly if left on a wet surface. As a rule of thumb, avoid leaving any metal objects on the countertop, including food cans to prevent rust stains.
If you develop rust stains on your granite countertops, you have a bit of challenge ahead of you. Most rust stains sit on the surface, but they stick to the surface like glue. One way to deal with them is to sprinkle the stain generously with dry baking soda before sprinkling it with clean water. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before working the baking soda in with a damp sponge, scrub side down. Rinse the baking soda off to check if it is working. If the stains look fainter, you are in luck. It might take you a few tries, but they should go away at the end.
Some rust stains are much more difficult, however. In that case, you may have no alternative but to use a commercial rust remover designed for natural stones. Make sure to reseal the surface after removing the stains.
Granite countertops are tough and beautiful, and with a little care, it should stay that way. Homeowners need to know how to maintain granite countertops to keep them in top condition and protect their investment. This is especially true if you are about to put in granite countertops, as it can prevent problems later on.
Mimosa Kitchen and Bath is your best resource for granite countertops in the DC metro area, Columbia, Rockville, Bethesda, Jessup, Chevy Chase and surrounding areas. We are expert remodelers specializing in kitchen and bathroom remodeling.
At Mimosa Kitchen and Bath, we sell high-quality products manufactured by leading brands in the industry. When you purchase your products from us, we guarantee speedy delivery compared to ordering from big box stores. We will also customize the product according to your specifications and install it into your kitchen quickly and with excellent artisanship.
We sell a host of products, including but not limited to bathroom and kitchen cabinets, flooring, faucets and sinks, and vanities. Some of the brands we carry include Zodiaq, Fabuwood, Forevermark Cabinetry, Caesarstone, MSI, Kitchenmaid, Wolf Cabinets, Cambria and Hardware Resources. You can visit our showroom in Elliicott City, Maryland to see the many products and stone slabs we have available. This includes marble, granite and engineered quartz.
All of our products come backed with brand warranties. Contact us today to get a free quote for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade!