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How do you clean GRANITE counter??

Moving to a house with what I believe are granite or marble counters, and I have seen conflicting info on how to keep them clean. What's the bottom line? A wet sponge alone? Sponge with a little dish detergent? Just the sponge daily and then something else to really clean on a periodic basis? And is it different for granite or marble?

Also, will a glass with ice water leave a stain on the counter? Do you put pots right off the hot stove onto the stone?


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  1. pic of the counters (I hope!)

    1. I can only respond to part of your questions. We have granite, and keep a spray bottle of 3/4 water to 1/4 white vinegar, and use a sponge to clean the schmootz off the counters. I have read somewhere not to use Windex- ammonia base products. I also use a granite cleaner/polisher in a black bottle after the water/vinegar wash, and wipe to buff.

      I will warn you that granite is very porous and does stain, especially from oil. It took us weeks to get out a round olive oil bottle stain- Who knew? I have also heard you can rest hot pots on granite, but would never take the chance after what we went through with the stain.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MNLisaB

        MNLisaB, you should discontinue using vinegar on your granite. It's one of the very worst things you can possibly use, because acids are granite's biggest enemies. Vinegar and citrus cleaners can damage your granite very easily.

        woodburner, you want to use soap and water, period. If you want a commercial product, use one of the many granite-specific ones out there. The best way to keep granite clean is simply not to let it get gunked up in the first place. Don't let spills sit, especially of acidic foods like citrus, vinegar, tomatoes and the like.

        True story: A friend had a party to celebrate his brand-new kitchen remodel with granite counter tops. He didn't notice a guest had left a lemon sitting cut-side-down on the counter for a few hours. Presto -- big circle etched into his brand-new counter tops.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          Thanks, makes sense. So, an annual sealer... daily light soapy sponge, and an occasional polish?

          1. re: woodburner

            I'm hardly an expert on the polish part. If I were you, I'd call a local granite fabricator and ask what they advise on sealing and polishing. You could also ask one of the DESIGNERS in the kitchen section at your local Home Depot/Lowe's. But I'd warn against just stopping one of the workers in the aisles. Make sure to speak to a specialist.

            1. re: woodburner

              Do not skimp on the sealant. You will see two types, one which is surface (topical) and one which is penetrant and has a molecular bonding. The latter is far more expensive and far better. It almost obviates stains. It is also a breathing material.

              Find out from the previous owners how it was sealed. You may not be able to effectively reseal with an absorbent sealant if they used a topical one. Sorry - I am out of my depth on that question.

              It is better not to use acids on granite, but it will do not do much damage. Marble and travertine are much, much more susceptible to acid damage as they are calcium carbonate. With the advent of acid rain few buildings are now faced with marble or limestone. Granite is the preferred material.

              Since your handle is woodburner I am guessing you are not in California, which has restrictions about the use of volatile organic compounds. (VOCs)

              Cleaning? Dish soap and water. Also avoid bleaches (Vim, Comet etc). If you do use them you should rinse and clean the surface. Almost nothing seriously bonds to polished sealed granite - not even glue.

              Since you already have the granite installed the following is not applicable, but for others who are reading...

              A dramatic red-based patterned marble will not fewer stains - they look like part of the 'pattern' - except for rings. Dark granites are normally denser with fewer occlusions, and less likely to pick up stains. It also doesn't absorb water so easily. Some of the much darker granites are almost impervious.

              I would not recommend a light-coloured gneiss such as Imperial White for a counter top - far too porous. Additionally, polished granite is less porous than honed, brushed or flamed. Do not use anything else for a counter top, unless your kitchen is a place of beauty rather than utility.

              Judging by your picture you have a fairly dense well-patterned granite - it is not marble. It should resist staining fairly well.

        2. I recommend you sealing your countertop first. It's something you would have to do every 1 to several years, depending on the quality of the sealer. After that, my daily ritual is to use a diluted solution of some all purpose cleaner from Williams-sonoma (they smell really really good), spray it all over, and wipe dry.

          2 Replies
            1. re: woodburner

              Whil I use soap and water, I also use one of those plastic scrubbing balls, and then paper towel to dry.
              And yes, I do put a hot pot on my counter tops. My granite is about 6 years old, and they look as well today as they did day 1.

          1. Seal that countertop! After you do that, I found that microwaving a damp terry towel for one minute and then wiping the counters with that followed immediately with a dry terry towel to clean and shine them the best. (I had black granite, and it showed fingerprints and smudges easily) The best part of the microwaved towels is that no harsh cleaners or detergents required.

            1. I have a bottle that's about half water and half rubbing alcohol, with a few drops of dishwashing detergent in it. I use this mixture to clean nearly everything in the kitchen that doesn't require lots of scrubbing, including the granite countertops.

              The problem with acids and granite are two-fold: 1) There are lots of things out there that are commercially labeled as granite; true granite is unlikely to really etch (or be scratched, or suffer from heat) and 2) Softer commercial granites need sealing and the acids can affect the sealant and/or the granite.

              1 Reply
              1. re: PegS

                This is what I use too and what the company I bought the granite through recommended.
                I figure they know what they're talking about!

              2. After more than seven years of hard use, there is not a single stain/spot or problem on our granite. What do I do? Not bloody much. Yes, I police spills and use a cutting board (instead of the counters) but I don't do anything special. I put hot pots on the counters daily. After cooking, I wash with plain water and wipe them down with either a paper towel or well-washed linen kitchen towel.

                I will also admit to not having re-sealed these in the seven years that we have lived, and I mean LIVED, in this house. They're dark green with lots of movement and hide all manners of sins. After parties, I've found red wine spills on the counters, wiped them up and never had a problem. I have no experience with oil stains. We have granite in lots of rooms of the house and would make this choice again in a heartbeat.
                Disclosure: our granite is quite thick, 4cm, but I don't think that makes any difference in the wear capability. We just happened to luck out that there were eight huge sandwiched slabs available.

                1. "Granite" is a type of rock, and not all "granites" are alike. Someone has mentioned a water mark from a glass of water. THAT granite needs to be sealed. As a general rule of thumb, mottled and lighter colored granites are more likely to require sealing. I have black granite, and my specific granite is quite dense, so isn't in need of resealing after almost two years of heavy use.

                  As for "stains" on granite -- specifically the oil marks someone has mentioned. There are two ways that can be addressed, but first let me say that the problem here is that the granite is not properly sealed or the oil mark wouldn't have happened. Anyway, you can work and get the oils reduced to an unnoticable level (there are "poultices" that will draw the oil out; Google is your friend), or you can spread oil over the entire counter top and stain it all to match. Choice is yours.

                  To the OP, since your granite is mottled, check it to see if it needs to be sealed. How do you do that? Take a wet fresh clean sponge or wet paper towel and let it sit on the granite for twenty minutes or more, then remove it. If the surface that was under the wet sponge/paper towel is darker or a different color than the surrounding surface, your granite needs to be sealed. It will be much easier to seal it before you move in. Nothing to move off the counter tops! Oh! The "stain" from the water will air dry and vanish within a short while. Let it dry before you seal.

                  I use 409' specially formulates stone cleaner. It works really well. Spray and wipe and forget about it. Using a sponge and warm "soapy" (detergent) water takes at least three meticulous scrubbings in order to get a streak free finish. The 409 is soooooo much easier! The denser the granite, the easier it is to care for.

                  I've been putting fiery hot cast iron frying pans on my granite counter tops with no threat to the granite. But it's entirely possible the cold granite could crack the cast iron from shock... Knock on wood, so far it's not been a problem.

                  1. We sealed ours when we had our kitchen installed. We used some commercial product. It has been 4 years and we are saying we need to do it again. We entertain quite a bit, and have had oil stains (similar to previous post), which are unnoticeable after we used a hot soapy solution for two days in a row. We had the lemon situation and still nothing. We put hot pans, pots, etc on there all the time with no issue. I have made butter doughs and oil coated doughs on there..still nada. We love them

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: itryalot

                      If you make your own puff pastry (but since you can buy it now, who needs to?), just toss a few zip lock bags packed with ice on the granite for about a half hour or more and voila! perfect for rolling out the puff pastry. It's also great for making divinity.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        That's a smart idea. I usually end up putting a slab of granite in the freezer.

                        If you go dumpster diving round a granite fabricator's place you can pick up pieces for free. An angle grinder or circular saw with a stone blade will square it off. The edges wont be polished, but that doesn't matter. And you can store it in the yard.

                      2. great posts everybody.... very helpful for me. thanks.