Granite is one of the noblest of all stones. It’s regal, interesting to look at, shiny, layered, speckled and strong. A slab of granite is no joke in the rock world — it’s got weight in more ways than one. These qualities make it a great design element in your home, and a very common countertop choice in kitchens. If you’ve got a big slab of granite (or a couple) in your kitchen you know how special it looks and how well it holds up in the face of endless kitchen messes.
I’ve personally got a giant hunk of granite sitting in the middle of my kitchen that acts as an island for chopping, a home to storage cabinets, a breakfast station with stools, a place to put packages and a fruit stand. It plays a lot of rolls, and because of that it acquires a lot of stains. The usual sauce dab, piece of onion skin or leftover oil smudge is easy to wipe off. However, there are some stains that linger and for a while I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of them. Turns out, granite is a bit finicky when it comes to cleaning — and there are extra steps you can take to preserve this precious mineral in your home for aesthetic and functional purposes.
We’ve gathered up a bunch of tips, tricks, recommended products and guidance around how to clean granite countertops so that we can all enjoy this functional stone and take care of it at the same time.
General Cleaning Tips for Granite
The special thing about granite countertops in your kitchen is that granite is naturally antimicrobial and typically comes treated with a stain-resistant finish when it’s being used in your home. It doesn’t absorb oils, spills, stains or liquids in general easily and tends to be extremely resistant to bacteria — making it a safe choice for families, children and everyone who likes their home clean. Maintaining this glossy shine your expensive granite countertop came with also requires a few extra considerations.
It’s crucial to mop up stains as soon as they happen to avoid liquids penetrating the surface and deeply staining your granite. This is especially true for acidic liquids like tomato sauces, citrus and vinegars. Speaking of that, typical household cleaners that contain bleach and vinegar, that are perfectly safe to use on other household surfaces, may damage your granite countertop’s protective sealant, so it’s best to avoid them.
In general, wiping the counter’s surface with a microfiber cloth, to avoid scratches, with warm soap and water will keep your counters in pretty good shape. Avoid using abrasive brushes, pads or wool cleaners so you don’t wear down the protective sealant.
AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth 24-Pack
These non-abrasive cloths are the safest to use on your sealed granite countertop because they’re anti-scratch and safe to use on other delicate surfaces. They leave lint- and streak-free results and can absorb 8x their own weight in cleaning liquid, a useful quality if you’re wiping down large countertops. They’re endlessly reusable in your home and will last for years to come.
How to Remove Stains From Granite Countertops
Stains happen on everything. We’re human! That’s how this thing called life works. Stains on your expensive granite countertops, however, are different than a simple spray-and-wash treatment of your t-shirt. Knowing how to clean granite countertops effectively means knowing what type of stain it is, and how to remove it effectively. We’re going to walk through a couple of stain scenarios and talk through how to remove each one.
For a simple surface-level stain, mix together a paste of baking soda and water. Using a soft microfiber cloth, massage the paste into the spot and then rinse thoroughly. You can repeat this step a few times if progress is being made but the job is not quite finished.
If it’s a stain that’s more set in its ways, it might be worthwhile to leave the baking soda paste on the stain, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit for a few days. You’ll want to wait until the paste has totally dried on the spot and then use your soft microfiber cloth to wipe it away. The crucial last piece in both of these scenarios is to rinse the spot with warm water after you’re finished, to bring the granite back to a neutral state.
If you notice water spots on your granite countertop, most of the time you can buff them out with super fine steel wool, 0000 grit is best to avoid scratching.
If it’s an oil-based stain, soap and water will typically work. You can also use a household cleaner that’s free of harsh chemicals, vinegar and bleach.
If it’s an organic stain, these typically respond best to 12% hydrogen peroxide in order to gently lift and remove the stain from the surface without bleaching the color or causing the sealant to disintegrate.
Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution
This hydrogen peroxide has numerous uses in your home — it can remove stains from your granite countertops but also disinfect wounds and even rinse out your mouth. It’s a wellbeing renaissance woman of a solution, and is worth the investment.
Pacific PPE Household Reusable Cleaning Gloves
As you’re applying, scrubbing and rinsing out the stain remover from the granite countertops, using gloves may be helpful. These are made of premium PVC material and are completely latex-free. Granules built into the palms and finger tips give you a better grip, and they’re made of thicker material to avoid tearing. They also have longer cuffs for protecting wrists, hands and forearms from moisture.
Super Fine Grade #0000 Steel Wool
These gentle steel wool pads will help remove stains from your granite countertops without damaging the surface. They’re also great for buffing, polishing, and refinishing other pieces in your home. Each pad is made of high-quality metal strands woven together with minimal abrasiveness, and are flexible to reach around corners with ease.
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
It’s baking soda — it basically does everything from make baked good chemically balance to get rid of odors and remove stains from your countertops. You should probably have at least one box around, and it should probably be a value pack box like this one.
How to Protect Granite Countertops From Stains
There are some things you can do to help prevent stains on your precious counters and proactively work against the tomato juice, acid and vinegar forces conspiring against the glistening surface you’ve got going for you.
There are common knowledge things you can do like cleaning up stains right away, blotting instead of wiping away liquids, avoiding storing cooking oils on your granite and using coasters under glasses. These are all good best practices to follow always, and generally with all surfaces in your home.
To give your countertops a little extra shine boost, use a few drops of cooking oil and wipe across the surface before buffing it. This will boost the shine and make your counters look like new again.
If you feel that your sealant has ceased working and needs another coat, this is something to consult professionals about. Reach out to someone about resealing the stone to prevent future set-in stains.