Stone countertops are an elegant and durable addition to kitchens, bathrooms, and other multi-purpose rooms. Whether you opt for concrete, granite, limestone, marble, quartz, or soapstone, it’s crucial to understand the proper care and cleaning techniques for each type of stone to avoid any damage. Below are some effective ways to clean various types of stone countertops.
Although not immediately considered a stone, concrete countertops are made from a mixture of finely crushed stone, sand, cement, and water. After being poured into a mold and dried, the result is a durable solid surface that can be stained or left natural. Proper sealing is essential for easy maintenance of concrete countertops, and the sealant used should be resistant to acid, heat, and scratches. Follow the instructions provided for how often the sealant needs to be reapplied.
Daily cleaning should involve wiping the countertop with a mixture of one teaspoon of dish detergent and four cups of water, as acids are highly damaging to concrete. Avoid using harsh, abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads, and do not use distilled white vinegar as a cleaner. For homes with hard water, consider using a water softening system or a water conditioner in cleaning water.
If stains from strong acids, such as lemon juice, have etched the concrete, buffing or grinding away the damage and resealing the surface is necessary. It is best to hire a professional if this is the case. Discoloration stains caused by food, such as coffee or mustard, can often be removed with chlorine bleach. To remove oil stains, make a paste of baking soda and acetone and apply it thickly to the stain, then cover it with plastic wrap and leave it for 24 hours. The concrete will need to be resealed after cleaning.
Granite countertops are a popular choice for their wide range of colors and formations, making each slab unique. Not only is granite naturally anti-bacterial, but it’s also easy to care for with proper sealing.
For daily cleaning, it’s recommended to use a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water. Just mix a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and four cups of water in a spray bottle and give the countertops a quick spritz after food preparation. Avoid using harsh cleaners like foaming bathroom cleaners, vinegar, or lemon juice, which can dull the finish of granite. Using cutting boards and trivets is also essential to prevent scratches from sharp objects and gritty items. It’s important to follow the installer’s guidelines on resealing granite countertops as recommended.
For tough stains such as red wine or beet juice, a commercial stone poultice can be used or a homemade mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, which should be spread about one-fourth inch thick over the stain and covered with plastic wrap. Allow the mixture to remain on the stain for 24 hours, then wipe away and repeat as needed until the stain is gone. After cleaning, the stained area will need to be resealed to prevent further staining.
Limestone countertops are a popular choice because they offer the luxurious look of marble at a more affordable price. Typically, limestone is white or off-white with natural, random patterns in the stone. However, compared to other types of stone, limestone requires more upkeep and care.
Due to its porous nature, limestone is prone to scratching and discoloration, but with appropriate sealing and maintenance, limestone countertops can last for many years.
Daily cleaning: Avoid harsh or acidic cleaners when cleaning limestone countertops, and instead opt for a commercial limestone cleaner or warm water mixed with dish detergent. Use a soft cloth to clean the countertops daily after food preparation. Avoid sponges or scrubbers that may scratch the finish.
Stain removal: Limestone is softer and more porous than other stones, making it vulnerable to stains from dark-colored and acidic foods such as red wine, black tea, and coffee. High temperatures can also cause the stone to scorch or burn. To remove stains, create a paste using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, apply it generously to the stained area, cover with plastic wrap for 24 hours, and then wipe it away. Reseal the affected area afterward.
If scratches occur and are not too deep, they may be lightly buffed out using 0000-grade fine steel wool or car polishing compound. Always reseal the area after cleaning.
Marble is a countertop material that is highly prized by professional chefs due to its cool surface temperature, which is perfect for pastry making. However, it is quite porous and can easily be stained and scratched. Although sealing can help prevent staining, acidic foods can quickly etch the marble surface.
To keep marble looking great, it’s important to wipe up spills immediately and clean marble countertops daily with mild dish detergent and warm water using a soft cloth. Avoid using scrubbing sponges or any type of harsh cleaner, including vinegar and glass cleaners with ammonia. Marble countertops should be resealed every three to six months to help prevent staining.
To remove food stains or rust marks left by metals, create a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, apply liberally and allow it to dry before wiping away. Repeat as needed. Many stains will gradually fade over time.
To remove scratches and etching, use a marble polishing powder, following the product instructions carefully and using a light scrubbing touch to prevent damage. Remember to reseal after polishing.
Quartz countertops are composed of engineered stone made by mixing quartz crystals with resins and colored pigments to form a slab. This process results in a nonporous surface that does not require sealing or resealing. However, the color of quartz may fade if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. Additionally, the resin used in the manufacturing process may become damaged if subjected to extremely hot items.
Daily cleaning: Quartz countertops are easy to maintain because they are not easily scratched or damaged by acidic foods. You can use a glass cleaner or any non-abrasive household cleaner for daily cleaning. Abrasive scouring pads should be avoided.
Stain removal: Quartz is highly resistant to staining, but dried paint or nail polish can be removed with a plastic putty knife. Permanent ink stains may be difficult to remove, so it is advisable to protect the surface when using Sharpies.
Soapstone countertops are an easy-to-maintain option for your kitchen. Although nonporous, soapstone is not as hard as some other stones, which makes it susceptible to scratches and chips if hit with heavy objects.
Daily cleaning: Soapstone countertops are often enriched with mineral oil to deepen their natural gray color. For daily cleaning, any household cleaner and water can be used, but it is best to avoid scouring powders and pads.
Stain removal: Since soapstone is nonporous, food and acidic substances do not leave stains. If the surface is scratched, you can rub mineral oil into the area to hide scratches and discoloration caused by hard water spotting.