Granite, marble or other stone countertops are a major investment into your home, so it stands to reason that you would want to keep them looking their best – if not only for yourself but to maintaining strong resale value down the line. One common issue you might find on your stone is that it has taken on a general haze or has some cloudy spots on the surface.
This is a common occurrence and can be caused by a number of factors – most being relatively easy to correct. So, let’s get into what factors can cause cloudiness on your stone, how you can fix the issue, and what to watch out for in the future to prevent it from happening.
Avoid Acidic Chemicals
The surface of most all-natural stone countertops contains some amount of calcium carbonate (the main ingredient in the antacid Tums), which reacts with and dissolves in acidic (low pH) chemicals. We call this process etching. Depending on how the chemical came into contact with the countertop, this could leave what looks like a light stain, hard watermark, or a hazy section of the countertop.
Unfortunately, this is permanent physical damage and may require the help of a professional stone restoration specialist in order to correct. So, while vinegar might make for a good DIY cleaning solution on other surfaces, it can be very damaging to the surface of your stone countertops and should be avoided.
However, it is generally relatively easy to prevent from happening in the first place by maintaining a few best practices outlined below:
Always Seal Your Stone
Upon installation, your stone was treated with a sealing compound to protect it from stains and etching. All natural stone is somewhat porous, meaning liquids can seep beneath the surface and leave a difficult-to-remove stain – or in the case of acids, can etch the stone deeply. This seal is not permanent and needs to be reapplied periodically in order to effectively protect the stone.
In general, it is recommended to reseal your stone every 6-12 months, though that is highly dependent on the kind of use your countertops see in any given location. You can check the integrity of your stone’s seal by pouring water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the stone in several locations and let sit for roughly 30 minutes. If you see a dark spot, that means water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
Avoid Letting Spills Sit
The pernicious thing about acidic chemicals is that they will eat away at the protective seal as well, so we always recommend wiping up spills as they happen. Food and drink spills such as fruit juice, coffee, vinegar, soda, wine, tea and anything citrus are just a few items that can etch your countertops, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and just wipe up any spill as it happens just in case.
We recommend always using a cutting board when doing your meal prep and to use serving trays under dishes and coasters under beverages to avoid etching as well as stains. If your seal isn’t strong in any given area, even something as innocuous as cooking oil can seep beneath the surface and leave a stain.
Hazing After Sealing Stone
If you notice a general haze or cloudiness to your stone after sealing your countertops, this is caused by allowing the sealer to dry before it was buffed into the stone. We recommend applying the sealer in three-foot sections at a time, making sure to work the compound fully into the stone until it is completely dry.
Once applied properly, you really can’t overseal your stone, so you can perform this process 2-3 times for a strong seal without it clouding the surface at all. Once the sealer is applied, buff the area with another clean microfiber until the surface is dry to the touch between applications (20 minutes should be plenty).
Using the Wrong Cleaning Products
Many common household cleaners such as dish soap might not outright damage the stone but can be counterproductive in making the stone look its best. Many of these soaps contain tallows and other organic compounds that will leave a layer of film resulting in either streaks or cloudiness on the surface.
That’s why we recommend sticking with a cleaning solution formulated specifically for use on stone, such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®, which cleans thoroughly and leaves no streaks or cloudiness on the surface. Being pH balanced means it also plays nicely with your seal and effectively removes streaks and haziness caused by dish soap as well as other soap scum and grime.
Another way you can make your life easier in the future is to use a natural-stone polish, which not only brings out that mirror-like shine, but reinforces your stone’s seal and helps to prevent spills and stains from taking hold, similar to waxing the paint on your car. A little bit of easy preventative maintenance goes a long way in making your life easier in the future.
Have a question about caring for your stone that wasn’t covered here? Give our team of stone care experts with three generations of stone-care experience a call at 1-800-475-STONE and be sure to check out our full line of stone care products!