With each slab being a unique piece of natural art, it’s easy to see why granite has become a staple building stone in the past few decades. Granite also has the reputation of being quite a resilient material, which is true, though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require care and maintenance to stay looking so beautiful.
Because of this, granite has become a major selling point for prospective homebuyers, which is even more reason to do what you can to protect your investment now. As we’ve all learned the hard way at one point or another, a little bit of regular maintenance can save you from hours of hassle later on when trying to fix what was neglected.
What makes a good granite cleaner?
Non-acidic, no harsh chemicals: Cleaners or other chemicals with high acidity can etch the surface of your stone, even to the point of needing professional restoration work to resurface your countertops if left unchecked. This includes some household cleaners, and things like vinegar, lemon, orange and ammonia.
Non-abrasive: Abrasive cleaning products are the enemy of your granite’s shine. Steel wool and gritty cleaning products will dull the surface of your granite and wear down the protective seal. It should also be noted that scrubbing harder isn’t the answer to stains in granite. We’ll cover how to pull stains out of granite below.
Streak-free: This is especially an issue on darker granite. There’s nothing worse than getting your entire kitchen spotless, and then having streaky countertops that you just can’t get to shine properly. Often times, moisturizing soaps will contain rendered animal fat called tallow — these soaps tend to streak and leave hazy spots when left to sit.
Food-safe: While we tend to use our kitchen countertops for all kinds of things, let’s not forget that these are also food-prep surfaces. A good granite cleaner should be non-toxic, non-acidic, biodegradable, and completely safe for anywhere food is prepped (harsh chemicals aren’t the most appetizing, at least).
OK, so with these four guidelines in place, let’s go over the best cleaners and cleaning products to clean and maintain that beautiful stone:
The Five Best Cleaning Products for Granite:
For Daily Upkeep:
This cleaner was born out of necessity when there just wasn’t a good product on the market to recommend for use on natural stone. Any other common household cleaner was either too harshly acidic on the stone, or would leave hazy streaks when wiped down. There needed to be a deep cleaning solution that was non-acidic and streak-free solution to clean natural stone safely while preserving the polished finish that people are investing in.
The Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® is safe on all stone surfaces, and also plays nice with sink hardware like polished nickel and chrome faucets. Checking off all the boxes, this solution is also biodegradable, contains no phosphates or ammonia, and is 100% non-toxic, making it safe for all food-prep surfaces. All you’re left with is a clean countertop and a fresh citrus scent (without the harsh citrus acidity).
For Getting up a Stain:
Granite is a naturally porous surface, and staining can occur on natural stone that hasn’t been sealed often or well enough. Tough stains like berries, red wine and coffee can be a pain to get out, but like mentioned before, hard scrubbing isn’t the answer. Instead, you need to use a product to lift the stain out.
For that you can use liquid laundry bleach on a paper towel or white terry cloth, letting the towel sit over the stain for 24 hours, and then scrub the affected area with a soft nylon brush to prevent any damage to the stone. Some stains may take longer to soak, just make sure to rinse the area away thoroughly with water, and this is also a good time to reseal that section — or possibly the entire countertop.
For Sealing Your Natural Stone:
As mentioned before, granite is a naturally porous material. Water, cooking oils, hand soaps and liquids can penetrate the surface and leave a stain if left to sit. In general it is recommended that process be done every 6-12 months, though the porosity of your specific stone and how much wear your granite sees does factor in that equation. For instance, darker granite tends to be less porous than lighter shades.
An easy way to check if your counter needs to be resealed is with the water test:
Drip some water onto the surface about 3″ in diameter, and wait to see if the granite darkens in that area — indication that the water has seeped into the surface. If your counter needs to be sealed, this effect will be noticeable in under 30 minutes of the water sitting.
Chosen as Better Homes & Garden’s “Handy Pick” of 2019, Granite Gold Sealer® is the perfect option to keep your natural stone protected against stains and etching. Just like all Granite Gold® products, this is a non-toxic and biodegradable solution that is safe for food-prep surfaces, and works for any natural stone, and even on grout.
Bonus: Granite Gold Sealer Wipes® feature the same formula as the sealing solution above, but in a pre-moistened wipe that is good for sealing 75 sq-ft of stone per cloth. That’s enough to cover most kitchens, making this a quick and easy sealing solution. GoodHouskeeping.com agrees, and named this sealer as one of their top innovative products a few years back.
For Polishing Your Natural Stone:
Not only does polishing your granite give you that beautiful, mirror finish, but it is also an example in the importance of preventative maintenance. A good polish will work hand in hand with your sealer to prevent build up of soap scum, water marks, goes on streak free and will reinforce that protective seal — just be sure to wait 24 hours after sealing to polish.
Easy and quick to apply, Granite Gold Polish® can get your older countertops shining their best, and help maintain that glass-like sheen for years to come. Perfect for use on granite, marble, travertine, limestone, slate, tile and all other natural stone and quartz this polish works wonders in natural stone showers and backsplashes as well.
Stone Safe Microfiber Cloths:
OK, so we established that abrasive pads are a bad idea for your granite’s finish, so then what is a better solution to clean and apply these products with? While your average dish cloth or paper towel can get the job done in a pinch, the best solution is a microfiber cloth — especially one designed with stone care in mind.
The Granite Gold Daily Cleaner Cloth® works great to clean counter surfaces, using its soft microfibers to sweep up and contain dust, dirt and liquid soils. The soft fibers are able to reach into the small crevices and pores of the surface that other materials just can’t reach. Plus, they are completely non-abrasive for granite, marble, quartz and other stone surfaces.
Other Granite Maintenance Tips:
To help prevent stains and buildup, try to keep liquid products, oils, hand soaps and other toiletry items off the stone surface. Even though granite is generally pretty heat resistant, it’s also a good idea to use a trivet or heat pad under hot pots or pans.
It’s always a good idea to wipe down any standing spills or liquids sooner rather than later. Even good products like cleaners and sealers can dry in a hazy spot if let to dry in concentration. Each product will have instructions on how to properly apply the solutions to prevent that effect and to get maximum effect from the product.
Want to learn more about caring for your granite or other natural stone? With more than half a century of stone care experience you can feel confident in reaching out to one of our stone care experts at 1-800-475-STONE, or shoot us an email.