How To: Caring For and Maintaining Countertops

How to Maintain and Care for Countertops

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When it comes to your kitchen or bathroom space, you’ve invested a lot into your countertops.  Something that is strong and durable and the focal point of these rooms need love too. Today we are going to discuss the best ways to maintain and care for your countertops to leave them looking as good as the day they were installed and clean enough to pass the white glove test, so grab your kitchen gloves and a little bit of elbow grease, put on your favorite tunes and let’s get going!

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Granite and Natural Stone:

 Cleaning: In order to keep your granite looking glossy, you need to clean it regularly and carefully. For granite and natural stone countertops you don’t need any special cleaners, the best cleaning solution for these counter tops is good old fashioned warm, soapy water.  Make sure to rinse thoroughly as to not leave any soap on the surface! For those who are wanting to have more of a “deep clean” feel, instead of using bleach, Windex, or vinegar (which actually do more harm than good because they eventually will dull your granite and weaken the sealant!!) opt for using isopropyl alcohol and water in a 50:50 solution.  The alcohol will not only kill any extra germs, but also evaporates quickly so you don’t risk the chance of a soapy residue surface.

Did you know that you can scratch granite?? In order to keep from this heart-wrenching mistake, opt for a soft sponge or dish rag instead of anything coarse and you can clean with peace of mind.

Got Stains?? In order to remove any unwanted stains… and let’s be honest- all stains are unwanted dig into your refrigerator and grab that box of baking soda! Mixing baking soda with water to create a paste apply to the stain and gently scrub with a wash cloth (or try that old toothbrush) and rinse! If it is a tough stain just repeat the process again until it is gone or apply the paste and let it sit until it is dry (be patient it could take a while) then rinse off with a wash cloth. TA-DA!

Shining, shimmering, splendid: Because granite and natural stone countertops have a glossy sealant on them, over time you will notice they will start to look dull. An easy way to put shine back on your granite is surprisingly with a little (and we mean a little) cooking oil! Just make sure you put in on your wash cloth first instead of directly on your surface and then gently buff away! This method will not only leave your surface shiny but actually makes it a little less stain resistant!

Resealing: Because granite is a natural stone and susceptible to stains, a sealant is put on it.  Unfortunately, it does wear down over time so resealing is something you will have to do every two to four years, it’s just the commitment you make when going granite. We recommend letting the professionals take care of this one as it is not as easy as DIY blogs make it look.

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Quartz:

 It is no wonder why quartz is becoming more and more popular as the countertop surface these days.  Not only is it gorgeous, but it is extremely durable and fairly low maintenance leaving you more time to worry about more important things… like what’s for dinner!

Cleaning and Stains: Just like granite- we recommend warm, soapy water and a soft sponge or wash cloth for the everyday wipe down.  Gentle, non-abrasive, liquid cleaners like 409 or Mr. Clean work great for those greasy or crusty spots. Just make sure to steer clear of cleaners like Comet, Clorox, or Ajax. They contain harsh chemicals that will dull the finish on your beautiful quartz countertops.

Sealant: Great news!! You will not need to worry about re-sealing your quartz countertops, which is one of the reasons why we love them so much!! Also, we always recommend that you use a hot pad under anything hot. Even though quarts is extremely durable, in extreme cases it can crack and we wouldn’t want that!! So be cautious when placing your pots and pans on it.

Marble:

 Marble is sure to give your kitchen the ooh and aah factor- it majestic beauty is a show stopper. Marble, is a very porous stone- because of this it is also very high-maintenance. Any ordinary household substance can cause damage leaving a permanent mistake reminder.

 Cleaning: Back to our favorite solution, warm soapy water! (are you seeing a trend here?). This solution will remove any dirt, but it won’t heal those dull, etching, stains. Anything you spill aside from water, should be cleaned up immediately to prevent any permanent damage. Never use vinegar, bleach, or Windex on marble- these products will eat away your marble. Also stay far away from any cleaner pads- stay safe with a soft sponge or washcloth.

Sealant:  We recommend spraying a sealant on your marble at least one time a month to keep it in shape (we told you it was high maintenance!) This sealant will be your marble’s life saver.  Even though you will still need to wipe up any spills asap, the sealant will help defend from any stains and slow down the process while you grab a washcloth.

Stains? Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide mixed with (strictly) a few drops of ammonia close by to rub on any stains that might occur.  If that doesn’t do the trick, we recommend calling a professional because this stone is so finicky once the damage is done- there’s no going back. If you have any etching in your marble we also recommend calling a professional, however if it is fairly small and you insist on DIY, you can use a marble polishing powder- just follow the instructions carefully!

 Concrete:

When you think of concrete, you think indestructible, right? Well, did you know that concrete countertops are very vulnerable to staining and etching? Steering clear from citrus, oil, and red wines will minimize this as well as picking the right sealer.

There are a couple options to choose from when it comes to picking a sealer for your concrete countertops and while most of them provide protection from water and stains there are some that go beyond and provide a more impenetrable surface.

These different options are either a topical or penetrating sealer.  Both have different cleaning and care instructions so before you go to wipe down your concrete countertop with anything other than warm, soapy water; determine your concrete sealer and inquire about the specifics of cleaning.

Butcher Block:

We love the look of the butcher block counter tops, who doesn’t love a good slab of wood? However, with the thought of it becoming a germ pool keeping it clean is the absolute most important thing to remember here. Wood will stain, burn, and blemish extremely fast and will forever remain that way.

 Cleaning:  Always remove food and waste then using your trusty warm soapy water, scrub the block then towel it off to remove any extra water or moisture. Once you’ve scrubbed it down, spray undiluted white vinegar (or vodka if you don’t want the smell) onto your butcher block and let it dry.  These methods will rid your block of any bacteria like salmonella or E. Coli. Last resort you can use a mild cleaning soap for those tough areas.

Another way to keep your board clean is by scraping it. This will remove 75% more moisture than towel drying it, so we recommend using a steel scraper or spatula to scrape (with the grain of the wood) to remove stubborn debris and moisture.

Stain removal.  If you're a butcher block owner, you will battle stubborn stains. Here are some ways to make sure you’re the victorious one in this battle.

1-     Lemon and Salt: pour salt over the stain, cut a lemon in half and rub the salt into the stain with the lemon. Leave overnight and clean off with a damp washcloth in the morning! Bonus- this will also get rid of those unwanted garlic or onion odors!

2-     Baking soda. Cover the stain with baking soda and work it into the board using some elbow grease. Let the baking soda stand for a few minutes before cleaning it off

3-     Bleach and water: This is your last resort and could cause discoloring to your wood so we don’t recommend it. Nevertheless, making a 50:50 solution apply using a damp sponge or wash rag. If the stain still won’t go, let this sit over- night. Wipe off and then rinse with a little bit of vinegar to neutralize the bleach.

4-     Scraping or Sanding: As mentioned above, scraping with the grain could be a good solution for your unwanted stains, however if they are deep and nothing else is working, sanding is an option. If you aren’t very familiar with sanding, we recommend a professional so you don’t cause more damage to your butcher block. If you do feel comfortable we recommend to first use coarse sandpaper (80 or 100) to remove most of the stain followed by a finer grit (180 or 220) paper which will leave your block smooth.  If your butcher block has a darker stain to it, make the sanded area slightly larger so when you re-stain it can blend better. Also, when it comes to sanding you will 100% need to reapply finishing oil to protect your block. When it comes to applying a finishing oil, some people say that vegetable or cooking oils can be used—don’t listen to them!! These oils will eventually spoil leaving your surface sour and nasty. If you want a more organic oil try walnut, almond, or coconut oil- they don’t tend to spoil, however there always is that chance so keep a close eye on it! 

Laminate:

Basically, laminate countertops are a type of plastic coated countertops.  It is very affordable and now-a-days you can find really nice-looking laminate.

Cleaning: Warm soapy water and a wash-cloth, Windex, Mr. Clean, 409, Fantastik are all great options when it comes to getting your surface clean!

Stains: If you do happen to get a tough stain on your laminate, using baking soda and water or a mild household detergent to lightly stroke across the stain should do the trick to getting rid of it. If that doesn’t do the trick, try using bleach or nail polish remover. Soak the stain for 2 minutes or less and rinse with warm water. Make sure not to leave either of these sitting for too long or they will damage your surface. If it is a burn stain then you are out of luck- so make sure to never place anything hot or even warm on laminate without a hot pad under it!