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How to Clean, Seal, and Maintain Granite Countertops

Natural Stone Work Surfaces are Beautiful but Require Periodic Maintenance

© 2012 by Sarah Harris; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Granite countertops in the kitchen; photo courtesy Sarah Harris

Granite countertops are all the rage these days. When installed, they finish off the look of high-end kitchens. People love the raw, uneven feel, the many colors under the smooth or pitted surface, and the weight they add to the room.

While they are indeed gorgeous, they are also incredibly expensive. So if you’re going with granite, you must make sure you take care of them properly.

Natural Stone Requires Maintenance

As long as you follow a few simple rules, the granite countertops will continue to look just as they did the day you put them in for many years to come. It’s going to take regular work, and a schedule that gives you tasks each week and several times a year.

But if you seal the countertops and clean them properly, you can maintain their beauty for as long as you own your home.

Once they have been installed, your first step in proper maintenance will be to seal them. Some will come from the factory pre-sealed, so double check with the manufacturer before moving ahead.

But if you do need to seal your counters, get them ready by cleaning the surface delicately with soap and a wet rag. If the countertop is small you’ll be able to seal the whole thing at the same time.

But if you’re dealing with multiple surfaces, you may need to do them in sections so you can manage the whole process seamlessly.

Use Only Top-Quality Cleaning Products

Purchase a sealer specifically designed for granite and apply it in a consistent layer. Don’t overdo it; the key is to make it uniform and thin. Then let four minutes pass so the first layer dries, and then add a second coat.

That coat you’ll have to leave alone for as long as two hours. Then do the whole thing again, so you’re left with four coats of sealant.

Once that dries the stone will stand up to heavy use, although you will have to test the sealant each year to make sure it doesn’t need to be redone. In order to test it, drip a small amount of water on the countertop.

If the granite turns dark under the wet spot, either right away or at any point over the next thirty minutes, you’ll need to reapply the sealant.

Now that the granite is properly sealed you’re in great shape, as long as you don’t clean it with the wrong materials. Each week you’ll want to clean the countertop off with stone soap, the same soap you will use prior to applying the sealant.

Use Only Stone Soap

Stone soap is specifically designed for these countertops, as it cleans the surface without pulling any of the sealant off of it. Regular cleaning products can weaken the sealant, meaning you’ll have to apply it much more frequently.

Go easy on the products, even the stone soap. A little goes a long way, and you don’t want a soapy film to develop on the countertop.

Since it’s the kitchen, spills are going to occur. As beautiful as the granite may be, if you can’t use it there’s no point. So all you have to do is clean each spill with the proper solution.

Any quick spill can be easily wiped away, but with stains you’ll need to get more specific. Organic stains, caused from things like coffee or wine will come up if you use a bit of hydrogen peroxide.

Oily stains caused from grease spills will require the use of mineral spirits. And any biological stains, like mildew or blood from the accidentally sliced finger will come up easily with a mixture of water and ammonia.

Use about a half cup of water for every few drops of ammonia, and even the most delicate granite countertop will be safely cleaned.

Obviously you’re better off if you avoid stains completely, so try to clean up as soon as you notice a spill. Use soft cloths or sponges on your counter and never steel wool, or you’ll scratch the finish.

Got granite countertop cleaning/maintenance tips to share with our readers? Enter them in the comment section below.

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