You’ve finally accomplished your dream kitchen including the perfect countertop. So, how do you keep it looking its best while you go about the busy business of living? Aside from the obvious things, like avoiding scratches by using cutting boards and scorch marks by using trivets, each countertop material has its own special quirks that you’ll want to keep in mind. Knowing how to care for your kitchen countertop will keep it looking fresh and beautiful for years to come.
For all their natural beauty and elegance, granite and marble countertops do require special maintenance. They are porous, so they are especially vulnerable to stains. These countertops will need to be sealed upon installation and then again at regular intervals. Granite will need to be resealed annually and marble may need to be resealed as often as every few months. Confirm with the manufacturer what sealant to use and with what frequency. For everyday cleaning, just use warm water with a little bit of mild dish soap or whip up a batch of a homemade everyday cleanser (recipe below) and use that. Dry thoroughly with a microfiber towel to get that gorgeous shine we love so much. Stay away from abrasive or acidic cleaners because they can damage the sealant. Clean spills right away, but if you do find yourself with a small stain, try making a paste of baking soda and water or try the homemade baking soda scrub below. Smear the paste thickly on the spot, cover the paste with a piece of plastic wrap, let it sit for at least 24 hours and then wipe clean.
For water stains, use hydrogen peroxide in place of water.
The new darling of kitchen countertops, quartz is actually man-made from resin-bound quartz crystals which makes these countertops non-porous. This means quartz countertops require no sealant to resist stains. It’s still wise to wipe up spills asap, though, as some liquids can cause damage if left to dry. Avoid abrasive and acidic cleansers; instead use warm water and a mild dish soap. Or you can use a homemade everyday cleanser, like the recipe below.
This natural stone is nonporous, making it resistant to stains and scratches so it requires no sealant. Some soapstone enthusiasts like to treat it periodically with mineral oil to bring out the natural variations of color and pattern. Others prefer to bypass the oil and let the stone patina on its own over time. It can be cleaned with almost any multipurpose cleaner but be sure that it’s non-abrasive as soapstone is fairly soft and vulnerable to scratches. The homemade everyday cleaner below works great. If you do need some stronger scrubbing action to remove buildup, try using baking soda and water or vinegar and water. The recipe for a homemade baking soda scrub listed below works well, too.
Butcher-block and solid-wood countertops are a beautiful convenience in any kitchen because you can chop right on them, but they do require some special care. They are susceptible to warping and cracking and should be sealed with a food grade oil or wax for protection. When it comes to daily upkeep, a non-abrasive cleaner or a homemade mix of warm water with a splash of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice will keep them clean and disinfected. For a deeper cleaning, water mixed with baking soda or the homemade baking soda cleanser below (sans essential oil) will do nicely. Stains will need to be sanded out which can be time consuming, so wipe up spills immediately.
Possibly the easiest countertop to care for, stainless steel requires very little maintenance. It needs nothing more than a regular wipe-down with dish soap and water or the homemade cleanser below. To stay on top of smudges and streaks; wipe down with undiluted vinegar and then wipe down again with water to remove the acidic vinegar and then dry with a microfiber towel.
Cost effective and durable, laminate countertops are fairly easy to care for. They don’t require a sealant, but you should always wipe up spills right away to avoid stains. Give the counter a daily wipe down with soapy water or a non-abrasive cleanser like the one below. If your laminate is textured, use a scrub brush to get into the nooks and crannies for a deeper clean. Use a mixture of white vinegar and water for stains or a baking soda based paste like the one below. Rinse well and dry.
Concrete countertops need to be sealed in order to resist stains, water and heat damage, and bacterial growth. To clean, use soapy water or a gentle cleanser like the one below. To protect the seal, avoid aggressive scrubbing pads and acidic cleansers. For deep cleaning, stick to a baking soda paste like the one below.
Ceramic tiles are pretty easy to keep clean; dish soap and water should do the trick. Protect the high-gloss finish by staying away from too aggressive scrubbies or cleansers. The homemade everyday cleanser below works great. Use a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe away any streaks left after cleaning. The tricky thing about tile countertops is the grout. Those bright channels collect food particles and are prone to staining. A scouring powder and bleach is the best way to keep the grout sparkling and white. You might consider using a grout sealant to help it resist stains.
Homemade Everyday Countertop Cleanser
(Good for all countertops except wood)
1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol
3/4 cup water,
3 or 4 drops of dish soap
10 drops of essential oil (optional)
Simply mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, spray on the surface to be cleaned, let it sit a sec and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth. This cleanser will keep indefinitely, but don’t forget to label your bottle!
Homemade Baking Soda Countertop Scrub
One part dish soap to
one part baking soda
add a few drops of water
A few drops of essential oil (optional)
Combine the first 3 ingredients and then add water a few drops at a time until you get a paste. Add the product to a sponge, apply it to the dirty area, give it a minute or two and then scrub, rinse and buff dry. This cleanser doesn’t store well, so only make just what you need each time your counters need a scrub.