Most people have their spring cleaning done by now, but I thought it might be a good idea to go over the care and cleaning of the various types of countertops. Regular cleaning and prompt attention to potential stains are just the beginning.
Some basic advice for handling stains on all countertop materials: blot (not wipe) spills immediately, rinse with water and dry. After that, the stain removal procedure will vary from one material to another so follow manufactures’ recommendations. I recommend using cutting boards every time, placing coasters under drinks and trivets under hot pots on all countertop materials. While some tops are more resistant to damage from heat and stains, it isn’t worth taking a chance.
GRANITE: Today’s most popular countertop is durable and easy to maintain but somewhat susceptible to stains. Acidic foods and beverages can etch the surface. Oily stains can darken the stone and frankly some stains are not suitable for a homeowner treatment. They may involve special poultices to draw out the stain and that is a job for professionals.
Honed finishes on granite are more susceptible to stains and while I couldn’t verify this in doing research for the blog, I understand that darker granites are denser than light stones and therefore more stain resistant.
Daily cleaning requires just mild detergent in water, rinsing and drying. There are also specialized granite cleaners on the market.
Photo compliments of the Formica Group
When it comes to laminate countertops, avoid all abrasives. Use a cloth, mild detergent or household cleaner to clean the surface, rinse and wipe dry. Textured surfaces might need a brush (similar to a vegetable brush) to get in the crevices. It is important not to let water pool on seams as the moisture can seep down and cause swelling in the substrate. For the entire care guide from Formica Corporation, click here.
MARBLE: Marble, limestone and travertine are called calcareous stone which means they are composed mainly of calcium carbonate and are more susceptible to damage by acidic items such as wine and fruit juices. Applying a non-toxic sealer to the surface is one way to increase the durability of these types of countertops. Sealers need to be reapplied periodically.
Regular cleaning with mild detergent diluted in water is the first line of defense. Rinse with clear water and dry. Stain removal can be complicated so check the full information packet from The Marble Institute.
METAL: Long used in commercial kitchens, stainless steel countertops are a practical choice for home kitchens too. The biggest issue with metal tops is the tendency to scratch so they develop a patina over time. Interestingly, copper countertops are considered to have natural anti-bacterial qualities. Daily maintenance is as simple as washing with mild soap, rinsing and drying. Avoid cleaners containing chloride or bleach.
QUARTZ: Quartz particulate countertops are one of the newer products on the market but they have been around long enough to have shown their popularity. Made primarily of crushed quartz and binding agents, they offer more color choices and predictable patterns than natural stone because they are man-made. Once again, using mild detergent, rinsing and drying is the answer to cleaning quartz countertops. Harsh household chemicals such as drain cleaners must be avoided but that is good advice for all surfaces.
SOLID SURFACE: Solid surface materials come in a variety of compositions so again, the manufacturer is the final source for care information. Today there are a variety of finishes available from the traditional matte to semi gloss and high gloss. General cleaning instructions provided by DuPont Corian include Soft Scrub® on a damp sponge or cloth, thorough rinsing and drying. Always use a trivet for hot dishes. For a complete care guide from Corian, click here.
WOOD: Wood countertops are showing up again. I like them for their natural, organic look but if you are going to use them like a butcher block, they are going to look like one. Personally, I would use washable cutting boards for everything to save the look of the countertop. Always avoid raw meats on wood surfaces and wipe up any excess moisture. Wood and water don’t mix.
Daily cleaning involves scraping off any heavy food particles with a steel scrapper. Then wash the surface with mild detergent, rise with clear water and dry. Most manufacturers recommend regular treatment with mineral oil.
There are a number of lesser known countertops made from recycled materials such as paper or glass as well as less-known stones. Always consult manufacturer’s recommendations for these and all other products.