3 Helpful Tips for Cleaning Granite

Granite is prized for its beauty, strength and durability, which is why it’s one of the most popular materials to use for both kitchen counters and vanity tops. Granite is easy to take care of and keep clean, but there is a way to do it to keep the stone looking its best. Here are three tips for cleaning granite:

Seal it First

Granite is formed in the bowels of volcanoes, so it’s very tough. However, it’s porous and often needs to be sealed. Some companies seal the stone at the factory, but the sealant wears away over time and needs to be replaced every two years or so.

Granite sealers are also called impregnators because they sink deep into the stone. They don’t just harden on the surface of the material like floor sealers. A granite sealer is made out of resin in a solvent, and the stone actually absorbs it into its pores. The carrier, which could be water, eventually evaporates and leaves the resin behind. This keeps out stains.

The one thing to consider is that every granite counter is different. Some are so dense that they can’t absorb the sealer and trying to add it is a waste of time and money. A homeowner can check to see if the granite needs sealing by putting a couple of drops of lemon juice in a discreet place on the counter. If the lemon juice doesn’t have any affect on the stone, it doesn’t need sealing. If the drops are absorbed, the stone needs to be sealed.

Some people don’t even bother with lemon juice, but put a few drops of water on the stone. If it beads, the granite is sealed. If it’s absorbed, it needs an impregnator.

Wipe Up Spills Immediately

Even a sealed granite countertop needs any spills wiped up right away, for even mildly acidic substances such as citrus juice or vinegar can etch that one spot that hasn’t absorbed the sealant as thoroughly as it could have. After blotting up the spill, rinse the area with warm water and pat dry. Even if the granite is properly sealed, a stain that’s left there hardens in the air and becomes tough to clean off anyway.

Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals

Harsh chemicals include lemon juice and vinegar, natural, go-to products used to clean just about anything else but stone. Other cleansers that shouldn’t touch granite include lime juice, ammonia or bleach. All of these chemicals can dull the surface of the stone and damage the sealant, which will simply have to be reapplied. If the homeowner wants to, they can buy cleansers made specifically for granite or other porous stones, but it’s not really necessary. Here is how to clean granite:

  • Fill a tub or the sink with hot water made sudsy from mild dishwashing soap
  • Take a clean dishcloth, soak it in the sink, and squeeze it out until it’s just wet.
  • Wipe up all crumbs and other bits of food and debris with the cloth.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to dry the granite, then buff it with another microfiber cloth or a cloth made of soft, clean cotton.

Granite is also valued because it’s antibacterial, but if the homeowner wants to disinfect it they can use a solution of one part water and one part rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray it over the counter, let it sit for about five minutes then rinse with clear water. Dry it with another clean cloth. Don’t use those scourers or abrasive pads, which can scratch even sealed granite.

Making a Poultice

Sometimes there is a stain on the counter that is tough to get out the regular way. To do that, make a poultice of water and baking soda. Work it into the stain with an old, soft-bristled toothbrush. If it still doesn’t come off, rub more paste into the stain, then lay plastic wrap over it. Tape down the edges so that it doesn’t move and leave it until the poultice dries, which can take a couple of days. When the poultice is dry, take off the wrap, rub off the stain with a cloth, and rinse.

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