how to clean granite countertops

Many of us dream of living in a home where granite countertops span the kitchen and bathrooms. Granite makes a beautiful and elegant decorating statement, but it requires some maintenance to keep it clean. Many people assume that because granite is sealed, it can be maintained with any all-purpose cleaner on the market. But these cleaners often contain harsh chemicals like ammonia that can damage the granite’s surface.

Although it’s heat and scratch-resistant, granite is a sensitive material and requires specific care. The good news is you can learn how to clean granite countertops without commercial cleaners—and the process is probably easier than you thought. Learn how to safely deep clean a granite counter when you pair proven products for cleaning granite countertops with the handy tips listed below.

The Best Way to Clean Granite Countertops

The best way to clean granite, quartz, or other natural stone countertops is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. No two granite countertops have the exact same composition or finish—that’s why you should always consult your manual for cleaning and maintenance guidelines. Since you can’t always access manuals and instructions, learning how to clean granite countertops the right way is critical.

From removing stains to cleaning buildup and residue on granite, it’s vital to avoid granite countertop cleaners with acidic properties. Bleach-based products and even natural cleaning solutions like lemons and distilled white vinegar are too harsh for any granite. The acids and bleaching agents in these cleaners will damage the sealant and leave unsightly stains on the countertop.

Since sealed granite is resistant to bacteria, dish soap and water should be enough for daily sanitizing. If your countertops have nicks and scratches in the finish, you may want to sanitize them more thoroughly. Here’s how to disinfect granite countertops safely.

Mix one part water and one part rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray it on the countertop and let the disinfectant sit for five minutes. Rinse with a damp cloth and buff the granite with a dry microfiber cloth to restore the shine.

How to Remove Stains From Granite Countertops

Knowing how to clean granite counters can keep them looking newer longer, but what about those inevitable stains? According to Stonecare.com, part of maintaining granite is understanding the difference between etching and staining. Etching is a reaction to acid on the surface of the stone. Staining is discoloration due to absorption into the stone’s pores. Stains will typically be dark and smooth to the touch. Etching often appears as dull spots and can feel rough to the touch.

For most stains on granite countertops, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is all you need. If the stain is greasy, make a paste from baking soda and water; if it’s water-based, use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe away the paste and remove residue with a damp cloth. Polishing powder made for granite is usually enough to fill and smooth light etching, but you may need professional help for deeper scratches.

It’s also important to understand how granite countertops can become hazy or cloudy. Hazing on stone isn’t surface damage or typical staining but rather the result of a cleaning product. The solution for cleaning granite counters that look cloudy is to rinse cleaning residue with water and dry the counter.

How to Clean Granite Countertops Safely

To begin with, it is not easy to see dirt on granite. That’s why we always advise our customers to feel the surface before cleaning, just like our team members from The Maids do. Use a microfiber cloth to dust the surface first. These cloths lift dirt instead of spreading it around and are a safe alternative to scratchy paper towels.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to clean your granite counters. The best cleaner for granite countertops may be a cleaner you can easily make at home using non-toxic, granite-safe ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need for your DIY granite countertop cleaner and disinfectant:

  • Empty spray bottle
  • Dish soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Essential oil
  • Microfiber cloth

Pour a half-cup of rubbing alcohol, a teaspoon of dish soap, and 1 ½ cups of warm water into a spray bottle. Add ten drops of your favorite essential oil to the spray bottle to create a pleasant aroma for your cleaner. Spray your homemade granite counter cleaner on the countertops and wipe away dirt, grime, and germs with a damp cloth. Wipe away the soapy residue with a clean, damp cloth and buff with a dry microfiber cloth to make your granite shine.

Finish your cleaning by running the palm of your hand over the surface. Dirty spots easily hide within the intricate design of the stone and can be hard to see with the naked eye. A simple palm test will alert you to any missed spots on top of the smooth surface.

How to Protect Granite Counters

The best way to keep your kitchen and that granite looking its best is to protect surfaces from hard water and other hard-to-clean stains. Keeping your granite beautiful also means protecting it from other damage, especially to the granite sealant. Here are a few ways you can maintain granite and keep it clean:

Keep Granite Surfaces Dry

The best way to keep your counters free of hard water and other liquid stains is to prevent them in the first place. Don’t let water sit for too long and keep the area around the sink and faucets as dry as possible to prevent the tell-tale mineral build-up.

The same stain prevention applies to oils and grease too. If an oily residue sits on a granite countertop for too long, it can seep into the stone and create a stain. Wipe up greasy spills right away and wash away the residue with soap and water.

Protect Granite Countertops From Extreme Heat

Granite is naturally heat resistant, but countertops can only withstand so much heat from hot pots and pans. Heat damage on granite counters doesn’t affect the stone as much as it does the sealant, but the result can be unsightly.

Cookware just out of the oven or off the stovetop can leave black marks and thermal cracks if it sits on your granite counter for even a few minutes. To prevent heat damage, always use potholders or trivets to insulate between the hot cookware and the granite.

Guard Against Impact Damage

Granite is known for its durability and strength, but heavy objects dropped on granite can still cause chips and cracks. Dropping an iron skillet onto a granite countertop could leave tiny chipped spots that may not be easily visible. Be particularly careful with heavy cookware when washing it because you could lose your grip.

Maintain the Granite Sealant

If you find yourself cleaning granite countertops more than you’d like, the problem could be damaged granite sealant. Test an area by leaving a drop of water on the counter for 15 minutes. If the water is partially absorbed or if a dark spot remains after you’ve wiped the spot, it’s time to reseal your granite.

How often you seal your granite and the process you use will vary by manufacturer and installer, so check with them before you proceed. Granite needs to be sealed up to three times a year to protect its finish and minimize oils and water from seeping into its hidden pores.

Sure, keeping granite countertops clean and shiny takes a little extra work, but a beautiful home is worth it. If cleaning granite countertops is a chore you’d rather skip, let The Maids tackle the job. Whether you do it yourself or let us handle the housekeeping, we’re on a mission to make every home a better place to live.

Now that you know how to clean granite countertops like a pro, what’s next? Check out our other house cleaning how-to’s to make cleaning house more manageable. And when you’re ready to enjoy a clean home more often, get your free online estimate for budget-friendly residential cleaning services.


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