Thanks to their timeless beauty and uniqueness, natural stone countertops are a gorgeous addition to any home. Available in various colors and patterns, natural stone countertops are a perfect fit for many interior designs, whether you're renovating your home or building a new one. However, you need to adjust your cleaning techniques so you keep your natural stone countertops looking like new.
Cleaning Your Natural Stone Countertops
A general-purpose cleaner is not a good choice for your natural stone countertops. Granite, marble and limestone need specialty cleaners to avoid damaging the material. Day-to-day stone cleaners are mild enough for regular use. Two other cleaning products for natural stone countertops include stone soap and mild liquid dishwashing detergent mixed with warm water.
Heavy-duty stone cleaners come into play when major food spills occur. Tomato sauce and vinegar, for example, can eat through the stone and damage its finish. Clean such spills immediately with the stronger cleaner to protect your countertops. Rinse the natural stone after cleaning to make sure you remove all food residues.
Several cleaning suppliers offer products designed specifically for stone cleaning. These products won't damage this material, and they help you attain a streak-free shine. If you can't find products specifically formulated for cleaning natural stone, look for cleaners without acid or bleach. This ensures you avoid potential stone etching and damage to the sealant. If you aren't sure whether a cleaner is acidic, contact the manufacturer to get that information.
Marble adds a refined and contemporary look to kitchens, making it a perfect choice for the white-on-white kitchen designs. This countertop material is softer than granite, which causes marble countertops to scratch and stain easily.
Marble should be sealed properly to protect it from many dangers that could cause long-term damage. Take care of your marble countertops, especially if you have kids in the house. If coffee, orange juice or other high-acid liquids get on marble, blot the stains as soon as the spill happens.
General Stone Care
While heat-resistant granite does not get damaged if you put hot pots and pans directly on it, not all types of natural stone share this attribute. Use thick potholders and trivets to protect your stone surfaces.
As well as protecting your stone countertops from heat, don't set glasses directly on the stone, particularly if they contain citrus or alcohol. Use coasters to protect the surface from condensation, spills and other issues.
In general, any food or other substance that is acidic represents a threat to your natural stone countertops, particularly marble. So, limit the chances for foods like lemon, orange, vinegar and tomato to get on the material, as the damage can be expensive to fix. In addition to avoiding direct contact of acidic foods with the natural stone, cooking oil bottles are another thing you should watch for, as they leave ring marks on stone surfaces.
If something spills on your stone counters, blot it rather than wiping it. You don't want to spread the spill; instead, you want to contain it. Flush the area with soap and water, and then dry it with a clean cloth. Do this as quickly as possible to prevent any damage.
Sealed natural stone countertops don't provide an inviting home for bacteria, so you don't have to use antibacterial products to keep your countertops hygienic. Instead, wipe them with a soft cloth soaked in hot water.
More Countertop Tips and Tricks
You may be tempted to use steel wool to get rid of dried food and other hard-to-clean stains on your countertops. However, if you do, you end up scratching the surface and stripping away the sealant that protects the natural stone from everyday spills. This recommendation also applies to sponges made of mildly abrasive melamine foam.
In general, avoid sponges when it's time to clean your countertops. Their abrasive surface can damage your counters and pieces of acidic food may etch the surface. A dishrag or microfiber cloth is a much better choice. If you don't want to give up your sponge, make sure you don't clean your countertops with the same sponge that you use for your dishes.
Periodically check whether the stone is properly sealed against common forms of damage. Wear and tear can reduce the effectiveness of its protection. You can test whether you have a fully sealed countertop by dripping some water on the surface. Unsealed material ends up absorbing the water. If you notice this, reseal the countertop before it suffers long-lasting staining and damage.
Get into a habit of cleaning your countertops daily. You should remove spills the day they happen. This process takes only a few minutes, but it helps your natural stone stay in optimal condition for as long as possible.
Highly porous natural stones, such as limestone, slate and soapstone, require additional care, as these materials stain and chip easily. Use mineral oil to maintain the stone and be vigilant about any spills and stains.