Stone countertops are a beautiful part of classic kitchens, and can transform your cooking space from boring and outdated to sleek and modern. But in order to keep them as good as new, you'll need to learn the best cleaning methods for your countertops.

Generally, stone countertops can be cleaned with a mixture of warm water and mild soap or detergent. Simply spray the mixture onto the surface and wipe with a soft towel or rag. Do this daily to keep your surfaces free of dirt and grime. Tougher stains may require a poultice, which is a soft, moist substance that you can make yourself or buy at a home center. Apply the poultice to the stained area and let it sit for a few days. It will absorb the stain, leaving behind spotless countertops when wiped away.

The best way to deal with stains on stone countertops, however, is to prevent them from happening by sealing your surfaces as soon as they're installed. Most stone surfaces are porous, and can easily absorb liquids and oils, leaving them stained and discolored, sometimes permanently. Stone sealants penetrate porous textures and leave them resistant to moisture. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, you'll know your surface is adequately sealed when beads of moisture form on its surface instead of seeping into it.

Specific types of stone countertops require individualized care. Below are some of the most popular stone countertop materials and tips for keeping them pristine.

Granite

Granite is a popular material for countertops because of its vast variations in grains, colors, and finishes. Because granite is porous, it should be sealed, and needs to be resealed twice a year.

Granite can be cleaned with a mild soap and water mixture. This should remove most light stains and bacteria since granite is fairly resistant to stains and bacteria, but if you desire a stronger cleaner, mix equal parts water and rubbing alcohol, spray it onto the surface, let sit for 3-5 minutes, and rinse with water.

Stains on granite countertops can be removed with a poultice made from baking soda, liquid dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide for water based stains, or water for oil based stains.

Do not use cleaners containing bleach, ammonia, vinegar, or lemon cleaners on granite, as it is susceptible to acidic substances.

Soapstone

Soapstone is non-porous, so it is resistant to stains and bacteria and does not need to be sealed.

Like most stone countertops, a soap and warm water mixture can be used to clean soapstone. But since this material's surface is non-porous, it is generally unharmed by chemicals so all-purpose cleaners can be used on soapstone as well.

Although soapstone is resistant to stains and bacteria, its soft surface is more susceptible to cracks and scratches than stains. You can repair small scratches yourself using fine sandpaper. Carefully rub the sandpaper over the scratch in gentle, circular motions. Wet the sandpaper and repeat, and then use warm water to wipe away any residual dust.

Slate

Slate is another porous material and needs to be sealed periodically. Reseal your slate countertop when you notice that water droplets are not immediately beading on its surface.

A warm soap and water mixture works best for regular cleaning of slate surfaces, but if you decide to use a store-bought produce, make sure it states on the label that it is safe to use on slate.

For stains, mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. Spray your mixture onto the stain, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then scrub gently away with a soft pad or a soft bristle brush. Do not use steel wool with this mixture. For even more stubborn stains, mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. The mixture will bubble, which you should let die down before applying it to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it clean with a warm damp towel.

Scratches on slate can be buffed out carefully with steel wool.

Acidic substances will etch and discolor your slate. Do not use ammonia, vinegar, or any acidic or citrus household cleaners.

Quartz

Quartz is a durable, non-porous, and eco-friendly material, making it a wise, long-lasting choice for your kitchen countertops. Because of its non-porous surface, quartz will not retain spills and does not need to be sealed.

Cleaning a quartz surface can be as easy as wiping it down with a warm, damp cloth. However, if you would like a stronger cleaner, you can use a warm soap and water mixture or a water and vinegar mixture. Quartz is stain resistant, but in the unlikely case of a stain on your quartz countertop, use a nonabrasive scrub pad along with a mild all-purpose or glass cleaner. Avoid using bleach and high pH cleaners on your quartz surface.

Other Things to Remember

Do not leave harmful products on your countertops for long periods of time, for example, Draino, nail polish remover, and other household acidic substances. This also applies to metals, which can leave rust stains on your countertop that are difficult to remove and sometimes permanent.

Wipe spills up right away to avoid stains.

Small amounts of paint and other stuck-on substances can be removed with a painter's knife or a razor blade.

From granite to quartz, beautiful countertops will take your kitchen to the next level. With the right care and maintenance, you can keep your stone countertops pristine for years to come.

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