Countertop Maintenance Routines

From cleaning to sealing, there are many things you can do to protect your counters from stains, scratches and other sources of damage. If you’re attached to your countertops and want them to continue looking and functioning their best, here are some small changes you can make to your countertop care routines in the coming year.

1. Implement Nightly Cleaning

Counters need to be cleaned every time you cook, just to keep your countertop surfaces free of germs. Even if you didn’t cook, it’s still a good idea to clean your countertops every night, just in case someone spilled something on your counters that could cause a stain. Jams, jellies, sauces and red wine can be absorbed into porous surfaces like stone, and removing stains can be difficult!

Most countertops don’t need to be cleaned by special cleaning products. A little dish soap and warm water is usually good enough. If it makes you feel better, you can always purchase a special stone cleaner, but it’s not necessary.

When cleaning your counters, take time to wipe down all surfaces that are commonly used by members of your family, to remove anything that may have fallen on your counters throughout the day. Want to disinfect your counters? Skip the antibacterial commercial cleaning products.

Most countertop materials can easily be disinfected with rubbing alcohol. Spray your counters with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Allow the rubbing alcohol to sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. Oh, and don’t forget to check your countertop’s warranty before using rubbing alcohol as a disinfectant – just in case.

2. Sealing and Oiling

Sealing Granite and Marble

Some natural stone countertops – including granite and marble – need to be sealed on a regular basis. This is important because natural stone is porous, which means that it can absorb liquids that can stain. Sealing your countertops will make the surface water repellant, which can protect your counters.

To seal your counters, purchase a stone sealant and follow the instructions. Most sealers just need to be applied to the counter, allowed to sit for a little while, and then wiped away. Follow the instructions that come with the sealer you purchase. Not sure where to get stone sealer? Talk to your stone fabricator.

Oiling Soapstone

Not all stone counters need to be sealed. Soapstone, for example, is naturally water repellant because it’s so dense. Unlike granite and marble, soapstone can start to look dry or blotchy over time, unless it’s oiled periodically. Applying soapstone oil can help your soapstone develop a natural patina that will darken its color over time. Your stone fabricator can help you find a good oil for your countertops.

If you’re wondering whether oiling your soapstone countertops is a requirement for protecting your countertops from stains, the answer is no. If you like the look of your soapstone without an oil, then feel free to leave your countertops as is. Your soapstone will eventually develop a patina without using oil. Using oil just speeds up the process and makes the patina more even.

A Word About Quartz

Do you own quartz (engineered stone) countertops? Congratulations! You don’t have to oil or seal your counters. These counters continue looking their best year after year, without special treatment.

3. Protection from Scratches

All countertops should be protected from scratches, although some are more vulnerable to scratching than others. If you own marble countertops, for example, you’ll need to be very diligent about scratch protection. Marble is a very soft stone – that’s why it’s a favorite material of sculptors! Granite is far more scratch resistant, and needs less protection.

These tips can help you protect your countertops from scratches:

  • Use a trivet when placing a hot pan on your counters.
  • Never slide a pan or dish across your counters.
  • Avoid pushing countertop appliances over your counters – instead, pick them up.

4. Stain Protection and Removal

If you spill liquids on your counters (especially oils, red wine and sauces), clean the spill up immediately using a damp rag or a microfiber cloth. If you find that your counters have become stained at any point, use a poultice to soak up the stain. Poultices can be purchased, or they can be made at home.

To make your own poultice, combine baking soda and water. Thicken the mixture with baking soda until it’s about as thick as sour cream. Slather the mixture over the stain. Cover the poultice with plastic wrap, then use masking tape to attach the plastic wrap to the counters.

Allow the poultice to sit in place for 24 hours, then wipe it away. If the stain is still faintly visible, try the poultice again. When the stain has been fully removed, reseal your counters to prevent future stains.