How to Clean Countertops

Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops looking their best with these easy tips for cleaning, stain-removal, and sealing.


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Butcher Block
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Butcher-Block Countertops

    How to clean: Using a clean sponge or soft cloth, wash butcher block with a solution of water and mild dishwashing liquid. Dry the wood with a soft cloth. Kill bacteria left behind by raw meat with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach mixed with one gallon of warm water. Then wash and dry as directed above.

    How to remove stains: Blot up as much of the stain as you can to prevent it from sinking into the pores of the wood. If you're dealing with a light stain, try sprinkling on salt. Then scrub with the cut side of half a lemon. Stain still showing? Let it sit overnight before rinsing with water and drying with a clean cloth. For a darker stain, try dabbing with a cotton swab dipped in a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution to lighten it. If the stain seems permanent, you can always sand and refinish the butcherblock.

    How to seal: Oiling wood countertops keeps the wood from drying out, helps seal the surface, and adds a sheen. Wipe the wood with a light coat of mineral oil, letting the oil soak into the surface. Sop up oil that does not soak in. Do not use excess oil because the surface may become tacky and attract dirt. Don't use linseed or vegetable oil for this purpose because they can become rancid.

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Ceramic-Tile Countertops

    How to clean: Unless tiles are rinsed thoroughly, soap may leave a film on the surface. Adding white vinegar to the water may alleviate this problem. Do not use abrasive cleaners or pads.

    How to remove stains: Although tile doesn't stain easily, grout does. It's also the area most likely to harbor bacteria. Scrub the grout with a mild bleach solution and a toothbrush. Then seal it with a commercial grout sealer.

    How to seal: Glazed ceramic tile does not need to be sealed. Grout, on the other hand, should be sealed with a grout sealant to help it become stain-resistant. Unglazed tile countertops should be sealed with a penetrating sealer for protection and stain resistance.

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Concrete Countertops

    How to Clean: Wipe the surface with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. A mild bleach solution may be used. Don't use abrasive cleanser or scrub pads because they may scratch the surface.

    How to remove stains: Make a paste of baking soda and water or talc mixed with a diluted solution of ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. Gently scrub the spot with the paste and a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly. Several applications may be necessary to lift the stain.

    How to Seal: Seal with an appropriate sealer formulated for concrete to help prevent stains and make it easier to keep clean.

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Cultured Marble Countertops

    How to clean: Use a mild abrasive cleaner applied directly to the wet cultured-marble surface (which is actually an acrylic material) with a soft rag. Rinse clean, then let air dry or buff with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid harsh cleansers and scrub pads that may scratch the surface.

    How to remove stains: Try cleaning the cultured marble with a paste made of baking soda and water. The paste acts as a gentle abrasive. Rinse clean, then air dry or buff with a soft cloth. If the stain persists, soak a cloth in hydrogen peroxide, then leave it on the stain overnight. In the morning, wipe or rinse the marble with cold water. Air dry or buff with a clean cloth.

    How to seal: No sealing is necessary.

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Cultured-Stone Countertops

    How to clean: Use a paper towel or a damp cloth to clean cultured stone (also known as quartz surfacing or engineered stone) countertops. Use non-abrasive cleaners that do not include bleach as it may discolor the surface.

    How to remove stains: Although quartz surfacing is stain resistant, you should remove liquid spills immediately. For hard spills such as food or gum, use a plastic knife to gently remove spills from the quartz surface. Then clean as directed above.

    How to seal: Quartz surfacing does not require sealing.

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Glass Countertops

    How to clean: Clean your glass countertops with any commercial soap or cleansers that you would ordinarily keep in your home for cleaning hard surfaces: such as glass cleaner or multi-purpose cleaner. Use a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scratching the surface. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and scratchy cleaning tools.

    How to remove stains: Glass countertops are stain resistant.

    How to seal: No sealing is necessary.

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Granite Countertops

    How to Clean: Wipe the surface with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. A mild bleach solution may be used. Don't use abrasive cleanser or scrub pads because they may scratch the surface.

    How to remove stains: Make a paste of baking soda and water or talc mixed with a diluted solution of ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. Gently scrub the spot with the paste and a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly. Several applications may be necessary to lift the stain.

    How to Seal: Seal with an appropriate sealer formulated for stone to help prevent stains and make it easier to keep clean.

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Laminate Countertops

    How to clean: Use warm, soapy water, a mild bleach solution, or a nonabrasive kitchen cleaner to clean laminate countertops. Don't use abrasive cleaning pads. Use a soft toothbrush along seams or along metal edging. Take care when using bleach solutions: They may alter the countertop color or cause other surface damage. Test first in an inconspicuous spot.

    How to remove stains: For greasy buildup, use a kitchen cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and water. If the surface feels tacky, rub with a paste of baking soda and water, then rinse.

    How to seal: No sealing is necessary.

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Marble Countertops

    How to clean: Clean your marble countertops regularly with a damp soft cloth (microfiber works well) to avoid streaks. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Never let it air dry because marble is prone to water spots. For deeper cleaning, use a ph - neutral dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of any residue and wipe completely dry.

    How to remove stains: Acidic liquids can permanently etch your marble, so blot wine, orange juice, tomatoes, and soft drinks immediately. Deep-seated stains may require calling in a professional. Consult the Marble Institute of America (usenaturalstone.com.for stain removal recommendations.

    How to seal: Use a product formulated especially for marble's porous surface.

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Solid-Surfacing Countertops

    How to clean: Clean solid-surfacing countertops (also known as cultured stone) with water, soapy water, or cleaners developed specifically for solid-surfacing. Wipe the surface dry after cleaning, rather than letting it air dry, to prevent a film from building up. You can occasionally disinfect the counter by using diluted bleach (50-50 solution of bleach and water). Rinse thoroughly, then wipe dry.

    How to remove stains: Solid-surfacing countertops are stain-resistant. Wipe away virtually all stains with soap and water. For scorch marks, scratches, or persistent stains, consult with your countertop fabricator about renewing the surface.

    How to seal: Solid-surfacing does not need to be sealed.

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Stainless-Steel Countertops

    How to clean: Wipe down your stainless-steel countertop with a microfiber cloth for dry cleaning. For wet cleaning, use a soft cloth dipped into a solution of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid. Rinse the surface with clean water and dry with a clean, soft towel. Look for commercial stainless-steel cleaners to remove fingerprints and smudges.

    How to remove stains: Stainless-steel countertops are stain-resistant.

    How to seal: Stainless steel does not need to be sealed.

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Stone Countertops: Limestone, Slate, And Soapstone

    How to Clean: Wipe the surface with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. A mild bleach solution may be used. Don't use abrasive cleanser or scrub pads because they may scratch the surface.

    How to remove stains: Make a paste of baking soda and water or talc mixed with a diluted solution of ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. Gently scrub the spot with the paste and a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly. Several applications may be necessary to lift the stain.

    How to Seal: Seal with an appropriate sealer formulated for your particular stone to help prevent stains and make every day cleaning easy.

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Wood Countertops

    How to clean: Wash your wood countertop with a mixture of mild dishwashing soap and water. Rinse thoroughly. Dry with a soft clean cloth.

    How to remove stains: Blot up as much of the stain as you can to prevent it from sinking into the pores of the wood. If you're dealing with a light stain, try sprinkling on salt. Then scrub with the cut side of half a lemon. Stain still showing? Let it sit overnight before rinsing with water and drying with a clean cloth. For a darker stain, try dabbing with a cotton swab dipped in a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution to lighten it. If the stain seems permanent, you can always sand and refinish a wood countertop.

    How to seal: Oiling wood countertops keeps the wood from drying out, helps seal the surface, and adds sheen. Wipe the wood with a light coat of mineral oil, letting the oil soak into the surface. Sop up oil that does not soak in. Do not use excess oil because the surface may become tacky and attract dirt. Don't use linseed or vegetable oil for this purpose because they can become rancid.

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