How to Clean and Seal Granite Countertops
Natural stone is an investment. Not only just of money, but of care over time. If you take good care of it, granite lasts a lifetime. Develop a regular maintenance plan and your granite countertops will remain strong and lustrous for decades.
It's the little things that count. Your daily habits could mean the difference between a dulled countertop and a bright shiny one years from now.
When it comes to cleaning here's what you need to know.
Do wipe counters off frequently to remove debris
Don't use harsh cleansers (bathroom cleaners or grout cleaners)
Do blot up spills as quickly as possible
Don't use abrasive substances to clean counters
Do wash with stone soap or a pH neutral cleaner
Don't use vinegar or lemon juice to clean
Do dry counters thoroughly after cleaning or spills
Get into the habit of
- Using coasters under drinks—even water left on your countertop can seep into the porous stone and leave behind a stain
- Using trivets or mats under anything that could potentially scratch the surface
- Keeping alcohol away from counters—alcohol is not pH neutral and will mark your counter
- Never placing hot items right on the stone surface
OCCASIONAL DEEP CLEANING
If you’ve been busy lately and your countertops have been the last thing on your mind, you may need to do a little extra cleaning to bring them back up to snuff. You can also do some countertop deep cleaning a couple times per year when you give the whole house an overhaul or you are preparing to reseal your countertop.
- Select a heavy-duty stone cleaner that will degrease the counter and remove surface sealants (heavy-duty stone cleaners are specially formulated to deep clean stone without damaging it)
- Mix the cleaner with water according to manufacturer directions and apply to the stone
- Allow the cleaner to sit on the stone for the amount of time recommended by manufacturer
- Agitate the cleaner on the countertop with a sponge or soft bristle brush
- Mop up the soap and water then dry thoroughly
- Polish or buff your countertops to a brilliant shine with a soft cloth
Accidents happen. Try a regular and deep cleaning first. Then, if you find your countertops in need of some extra care, try this.
- Select a stone poultice (fine, non-acidic clay powered agent)
- Mix the poultice to the consistency of peanut butter
- Wet the stained area with water
- Put a ¼ to ½ inch layer of poultice on the stain
- Cover with plastic and tape the edges to seal it to the countertop
- Let the poultice dry for 24 hours then remove the plastic and let dry for another 24 hours
- Gently remove the poultice, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth
- Always consult the manufacturer directions before use
WARNING: Poultice may dull the surface of your granite. If this occurs, use a stone polishing agent to restore its shine.
Your granite countertop will resist stains and daily use better if you seal it regularly. There are three types of sealer you can use on your countertops:
This type of sealer is a coating that covers the surface of the stone. It doesn’t seep into the stone like other sealers do. You can opt for permanent topical sealers or strippable sealers. Permanent sealers are very difficult to remove once they are applied. Strippable sealers are meant to be removed and re-applied regularly.
This sealer lets the natural beauty of your polished or honed countertop shine through. It does not add any extra shine to your countertop. Some sealers are water-based and others are solvent-based. Either way, be sure to select a penetrating sealer that is rated to protect your countertop for several years. Though most high-quality sealers protect your counter for several years, natural stone experts recommend sealing every year or two.
Stone Enhancer Sealer
Stone enhancers do everything a penetrating sealer does but adds a cosmetic factor to the job. Enhancers darken the stone to bring out the natural colors and patterns in the stone, much the same way wetting a stone does. They brighten up older countertops and keep newer countertops as beautiful as the day they were installed. Select a sealer that is rated to protect countertops for several years. Most stone experts suggest resealing annually or every two years.
Always consult manufacturer directions for proper use of a specific product. Here are the general usage guidelines.
- Give the countertop a deep cleaning
- Dry it thoroughly
- Apply sealer with a soft cloth
- Work in small areas
- Allow the sealer to dry on the counter for 24 hours (or as the manufacturer recommends)
- Apply a second coat of sealer
- Topical sealers may have additional instructions
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions
Your granite countertops will look great for generations if you carefully follow a maintenance schedule to keep them at their best.