How to Clean Granite
Prized for its good looks and durability, granite remains a popular choice for countertops, floors, and backsplashes. Employ these care and cleaning strategies, including how to clean granite with natural products, to ensure your granite surfaces retain their natural beauty.
Granite is a siliceous stone composed primarily of silicates, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica, which account for the colorful flecks and sparkling veins that make granite a favored finish for kitchens and baths. One of the hardest stones used in interior applications, granite has antibacterial traits and is naturally resistant to heat, water, scratches, and most acids found in kitchen settings.
While granite is easy to care for (routine cleaning is as simple as water, a mild dish soap, and a soft cloth) and is generally stain-resistant, you will want to take some precautions when cleaning and caring for your granite countertops, especially when it comes to cleaning granite counters naturally (green cleaning favorites vinegar and lemon are a no-go for granite).
Granite Cleaning Tips
You love your granite countertops for its gorgeous pattern, but crumbs can easily hide among the speckles and swirls. To ensure you’re leaving your countertop crumb-free, get down on eye level with your countertops and do an inspection: at eye level, you’ll be able to spot crumbs and debris you otherwise may have missed.
For a deeper-cleaning solution, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water; Thomas says the spray cleaner gives granite surfaces a nice shine. A mix like this can also help eliminate some germs and aid in disinfecting granite surfaces.
If you want to go the easy route, use a commercially available stone cleaner. Debra Johnson, Merry Maids' home cleaning expert, recommends trying "Take It For Granite," a spray that safely cleans granite countertops, floors, and shower walls.
In general, granite surfaces should be cleaned with soft cotton cloths or clean rag mops along with neutral cleaners, mild liquid dishwashing detergent and water, or cleaners made specifically for granite. After washing with a soap solution, rinse the surface with water, and dry with a soft cloth to eliminate water spots and streaking.
How to Clean Granite with Natural Products
While natural products like lemon and vinegar are a go-to for DIY cleaning solutions, you should keep them on the shelf when cleaning granite. Instead, one of the best ways to clean granite naturally is to reach for mild dish soap.
Housekeeping and organization expert Amanda Thomas, founder of Moxie Girl, advises cleaning granite countertops daily with a damp rag or a little mild dishwashing liquid and drying surfaces with a microfiber towel. Drying is a key step because it helps eliminate the occurrence of pesky water spots.
And you’ll find plenty of natural options for dishwashing soap: look for products with simple ingredients and transparency in their labeling. There’s buzz around ingredients in cleaning products, and while the FDA doesn’t require as stringent labeling as they do for food and drugs, the Environmental Working Group’s Cleaners and Air Freshener Guide provides consumers with information about ingredients and products so you can make a more informed decision about what you bring into your home.
Treating Stains on Granite
Although your granite may be properly sealed, a sealant is designed to repel stains rather than completely prevent them. Always wipe up spills as they happen by blotting the spill so it doesn’t spread. Clean the area with water and mild dish soap and rinse with clean water several times.
Though granite surfaces have some stain resistance, stains are still likely to pop up, especially in food preparation areas and at bathroom vanity stations. Common stains that mar kitchen and bathroom surfaces include oil-based and organic stains. The Natural Stone Institute of America has a handy stone and granite stain removal guide to help you identify and remove these types of stains.
A poultice can be an effective way to remove some stains. The experts at Molly Maids recommend using baking soda as a cleaning base and adding water for oil-based stains and hydrogen peroxide for water-based stains. Mix the baking soda and liquid into a paste and apply to the stain. Gently scrub the countertop with a soft cloth. Rinse with water and repeat until the stain is lifted. If the paste-rinse-repeat method isn’t getting the job done, apply another layer of paste and cover the area with plastic wrap. Tape down the edges of the plastic wrap and let it sit overnight or as long as a few days. Remove the plastic wrap, rinse, and gently scrub the spot with a soft cloth.
Maintenance and preventative measures can go a long way to keep your granite surfaces looking sharp. Mike Loflin, industry research & information manager at the Natural Stone Institute, recommends these tips to help safeguard your granite:
- Think about sealing. Sealing granite surfaces with an impregnating sealer supplies protection against stains. Sealers do not make stone surfaces stain-proof but create surfaces that are more resistant to stains. Sealers in food preparation areas must be non-toxic and safe for use with food.
- Devise preventative measures. Always use coasters under glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices, and place hot dishes on trivets. Don't store staining items—such as cooking oils and oil-based cosmetics and creams—on granite countertops.
- Protect against abrasive sand, dirt, and grit. Frequently mop interior floors using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Minimize tracked-in dirt by placing slip-resistant mats or area rugs inside and outside entrances. If using a vacuum cleaner on granite floors, make sure that attachments and wheels are in tiptop shape; worn equipment can scratch granite.
- Stay on top of spills. Immediately blot (don't wipe) spills with a paper towel. Wiping spreads spills. Flush the area with a mix of water and mild dish soap; rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.
- Avoid harsh cleaners. Granites may contain trace levels of minerals that are acid sensitive, so don't use cleaning products containing lemon, vinegar, or other acids. Don't use scouring powders or abrasive creams or rust removers. Steer clear of ammonia, bleach, or cleaning products with solvents or caustics that could remove sealers.
Granite surfaces are an investment that you’ll want to keep looking good for years to come. If you’re new to granite care and have questions, whether you just installed new countertops (go you!) or moved into a home with existing granite surfaces, it’s a good idea to talk with a pro at your local stone shop and ask questions. A stone shop can also get you set up on a sealing schedule and even recommend specific commercial cleaning products.