How to Clean, Sanitize, Seal and Maintain Natural Stone Countertops

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Learn the proper do’s and don’ts of Countertop cleaning!

Stone countertops such as granite, quartz and marble are a great investment and with just a little care will remain beautiful for a lifetime.

For decades, natural stone has been the most popular for modern kitchen countertops and even today, it continues to reign supreme. Stone countertops such as granite, quartz and marble are a great investment and with just a little care will remain good for a lifetime. Granite has a tremendous reputation because it’s easy to maintain the luster and sheen, quartz’s natural strength and beauty adds vitality to any kitchen while marble with its rich range of colors is easily the most naturally decorative material for a countertop. Its unique appearance and vein-like patterns gives marble that timeless classic look.

A granite countertop is durable and is said to be the hardest of polished stones; however, it is still vulnerable and sensitive to temperature changes and does need a little care and regular maintenance to keep it looking good and new. Regular care means proper cleaning and sealing to prevent staining.

Do’s and Don’ts – NATURAL STONE

Natural stone is porous and to keep granite looking shiny and new, it’s essential to remove debris and grime frequently from the countertops and blot up spills just as fast as they happen. Washing with a mild soap (best antimicrobial) or PH neutral cleaner keeps the granite in top condition and drying the countertops after cleaning makes them look shiny. If granite is not properly sealed, water can seep through the stone and may stain the countertop. Use a coaster under drinks and a trivet or a mat under sharp objects. Capitol Granite offers Invisablock, a 15 year sealer and we are the only company in Virginia authorized to sell and apply this fantastic product!

The best way to prevent stains from happening is to use a protective sealer that resists fluids through a phenomenon called surface tension

Never use a bathroom cleaner or any abrasive substance to clean the countertop as it could damage the surface. Though vinegar and lemon juice are great cleaners, they are natural enemies of granite – so do ensure that they are never in the vicinity of a granite countertop. Alcohol is also taboo as it leaves a mark behind so keep it away. In general, solvents are smaller molecules than water based, and have a tendency to solubilize the sealer, making it easier to penetrate the stone. Heat can damage granite from thermal shock, so it is suggested that hot items not be directly placed on the stone surface. Granite counters are still heat resistant and can withstand the abuse of hot pots and pans without damage, but why continually test its durability? Cars have 5 MPH bumpers now, but the typical homeowner does not drive into the end of the garage as a routine. Use a trivet whenever possible is the clear message. The worst scenario is putting a hot pan on the counter when the stone is soaked. Water under the surface will boil to steam and pop out the face. This is the premise for creating a ‘flamed’ surface texture, often found in slip resistant areas, such as stair treads.

The best way to prevent stains from happening is to use a protective sealer that resists fluids through a phenomenon called surface tension, giving you time enough to wipe it away. In order to find out whether the granite countertop requires to be sealed or not, just leave a glass of iced water on the counter, and see if the condensation forms a wet ring. If so, time to reseal. Call Capitol Granite to reseal professionally, or for the ‘do-it-yourselfer’, get a good quality solvent based sealer.

Do’s and Don’ts – QUARTZ

Quartz countertops are typically shiny and glossy and rarely require polishing. Although they are harder to damage than other stone countertops, they are still vulnerable and sensitive and require care if they are to last a lifetime.

Although quartz looks tough and robust, it’s not heat or chemical proof. This is because of the way it is made. The base material, quartz, is a clear and very, very hard mineral. It comprises 80%+ of the countertop. Polymer resins and pigments are the balance of the product, which is subject to heat degradation above 300 degrees. That being said, your counter is also a heat sink with a lot of mass. This is why an 800-degree match will not affect the quartz, but a crock pot at 350 degrees left on the counter all day may discolor the surface. So make it a point to use trivets or mats under hot dishes or under objects that can cause scratches on the quartz surface. If glasses contain alcohol or citrus drinks, do place a coaster underneath and clean spills up immediately to protect the stone surface. Regular cleaning with a soft cloth, warm water and a mild soap will keep the quartz countertop looking new.

While cleaning the countertop, avoid using acid, tub or grout cleaners and keep bleach and other general purpose cleaners away from it. Alkaline, abrasive cleaners and scouring powders are a strict no-no. Use soft and dry cleansers on the quartz to maintain its good looks. Exposure to direct heat may cause cracks because of thermal shock and cause potential damage, so be careful not to place hot items on the surface.

Although quartz is relatively hard and doesn’t easily scratch or chip, use a cutting board to protect the surface. It’s durable, but vulnerable to impact when heavy objects are dropped on it.

Quartz surfaces never require sealing or any type of reconditioning, and that is sometimes a benefit to many customers. It’s resistant to most acids unlike marble and doesn’t stain easily with soft drink and juice spills. Being non-porous, spills and stains are not readily absorbed into the surface, however, no product is completely impervious to staining!

Do’s and Don’ts – MARBLE

Marble is a metamorphic rock and subsequently, is available in an array of colors. It’s beautiful to look at but more porous, softer, fragile and chemically sensitive when compared to granite.

Because of its porous nature, marble countertops stain easily and even fruit juices or carbonated drinks will etch the surface if allowed to remain. So do wipe up spills with a wet cloth immediately. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes or sharp objects that can scratch the surface and use coasters under glasses that contain drinks. Clean the surface regularly with warm water.

While cleaning marble, refrain from using acidic bathroom cleaners, vinegar, bleach or ammonia and never use scouring powders or abrasive cleaners.

Do’s and Don’ts – IN GENERAL

Stain removal
No matter how careful you are, accidents happen and countertops stain. If regular and deep cleaning doesn’t remove the stain, call Capitol Granite and we can apply a stone poultice on the stained area.

Sealing countertops
While sealing countertops, the key is a quality sealer applied properly. How much and how often is a function of the stone species, and how you treat the sealer in between sealing. Harsh chemicals will strip the sealer sooner. Mild soap and water is the best microbial cleaner, and a neutral pH stone cleaner is best for keeping the shine without harming the sealer that protects your investment.

Annual Care
If you want you granite or marble countertop to be stain free, then you need to seal it. Sometimes the task of sealing gets too complicated or it turns out to be a laborious and time consuming exercise, but that doesn’t mean you escape from doing the job. Call Capitol Granite at (804) 379-2641 to keep those countertops looking good as new.

By | 2017-03-06T17:31:37+00:00 August 4th, 2016|FAQ, Tips and Tricks|Comments Off on How to Clean, Sanitize, Seal and Maintain Natural Stone Countertops