Cleaning Countertops

How to Clean Each Type of Countertop Material

Stone is easy to care for, especially when you have the right tools and know the right steps for your particular type of stone. It’s a common misconception that all types of stone are maintained in the same way. In reality, each type is different because the porousness and hardness varies from one type to the other. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the distinctions between each type of stone and tell you what cleaning procedures work for each.


What to know. Granite is a very hard countertop material. The Mohs scale, which rates stone hardness from 1 (soft) to 10 (hard), places granite at around 6 or 7. It’s also porous, but the porosity ratio is relatively low compared to marble. This means granite can be etched by acidic cleaners, but it’s far less susceptible to etching than marble. It can also be stained by staining foods and drinks.

Cleaning products to use. Granite-specific cleaner is good for your granite countertops, but if you don’t have any, dish soap and water works just fine. For tough cleaning jobs, you can use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (1:1 ratio). Isopropyl alcohol is very slightly acidic, but won’t damage your granite if it’s diluted with water. Wipe the counters dry when you’ve finished cleaning them.

If your granite becomes stained, mix baking soda and water into a toothpaste-like consistency and spread the mixture over the stain. Cover it with a layer of plastic wrap, tape down the edges with masking tape, then leave it to sit overnight. Wipe away the mixture in the morning. This is called a poultice. If necessary, repeat the process.

Cleaning products to avoid. Avoid bleach, vinegar and harsh chemicals on granite.

Needs to be sealed? Sealing your granite regularly can help close its pores and protect it from stains. Seal your granite as needed.


What to know. Soapstone is non-porous and incredibly soft. On the Mohs scale, soapstone is a 1. Soapstone is very easily scratched, but most scrathes can be removed by lightly sanding them down with sandpaper. In addition, mineral oil applied to light scratches will mask them. Soapstone has a natural stain resistance that comes in very handy if you frequently cook with staining sauces.

What cleaning products to use. Mild cleaning products like dish soap and water are enough to clean soapstone most of the time. There are few concerns about stains on soapstone because it is not a porous material.

Cleaning products to avoid. Some cleaning products can wipe away the natural patina that forms on soapstone, giving it a dry, light-gray appearance. If this is not what you desire, use multipurpose cleaners cautiously. Sample cleaners on a small corner of your soapstone before using it all over the countertop.

Needs to be sealed? Soapstone does not need to be sealed. However, oiling your soapstone with mineral oil will help it maintain a dark, even patina that some homeowners like very much.


What to know. Marble is both very soft and very porous. On the Mohs scale, marble is rated between 3 and 4. It also has a higher porosity compared to stones like granite. While it’s definitely possible to maintain beautiful marble countertops in your home, you’ll need to use a little more caution and care than with some other countertop materials. Marble is easily scratched, etched and stained. Even water left sitting on marble can stain it for long stretches.

What cleaning products to use. Dish soap and water can be used on marble, but it’s important to dry your counters when you’re done cleaning. Marble-specific stone cleaner (with a neutral ph) is also safe to use. If your marble becomes stained, create a baking soda poultice, like you would for granite (described above).

Cleaning products to avoid. Avoid any abrasive or acidic cleaning products on marble, as it will etch, scratch and stain your marble quickly.

Needs to be sealed? Like granite, marble needs to be sealed periodically. Keeping your marble well-sealed goes a long way to protecting it from stains.


What to know. Quartz is the one countertop material listed in this article that is not a natural stone. Quartz is known as an engineered stone, which means that it’s made from crushed stone and resin. On the Mohs scale, quartz is rated between a 7 and 8, which makes it the hardest countertop material on this list. Like soapstone, it’s non-porous. What does this mean? It’s incredibly stain resistant and very hard to scratch.

What cleaning products to use. Mild cleaning products like dish soap and water are acceptable for cleaning quartz most of the time. If the counter becomes stained, you can try using Goo Gone to clean your countertops. Test Goo Gone on a small area of the counters before using it in a very visible area.

Cleaning products to avoid. Avoid using acidic or abrasive cleaners on your counters.

Needs to be sealed? Quartz does not need to be sealed, as it is not porous.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Most of the time, mild cleaning products will be enough to clean most types of countertops. Avoid use of acidic cleaning agents, and remember that some multipurpose cleaners are acidic.

Dish soap, which is an alkaline cleaner, is generally a safe cleaning product to use on your natural stone. It’s always safe to use stone cleaner that’s formulated for your type of stone, so to be on the safe side, keep stone cleaner in your home.

Always read the warranty for your countertops before cleaning, maintaining or using your counters. When in doubt, ask your stone fabricator for maintenance advice.