How to Clean Granite

Ensure your granite countertops, backsplash, or floors retain their natural beauty.

Prized for its good looks and durability, granite remains a popular choice for countertops, floors, and backsplashes. Granite is a siliceous stone composed primarily of silicates, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. These create the colorful flecks and sparkling veins that make granite a favored finish for kitchens and baths. Granite is one of the hardest stones used in interior applications and has antibacterial traits. In addition, it's naturally resistant to heat, water, scratches, and most acids found in kitchen settings.

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. Still, you'll want to take precautions when cleaning and caring for your granite countertops. This is especially true when cleaning granite counters naturally. (Green cleaning favorites such as vinegar and lemon are a no-go for granite.) Employ these care and cleaning strategies, including how to clean granite with natural products, to ensure your granite surfaces retain their natural beauty.

white kitchen granite counter tops
Edward Everett Peek

How to Clean Granite

You love your granite countertops for their gorgeous pattern, but crumbs can easily hide among the speckles and swirls. To ensure you're leaving your countertop crumb-free, get down at eye level with your countertops and do an inspection. You'll be able to spot crumbs and debris you may have missed.

What You Need

  • Soft cotton cloth or clean rag mops
  • Mild liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Commercial stone cleaner (optional)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Spray bottle

Step 1: Clean and Dry Granite

Clean granite with soft cotton cloths or clean rag mops along with neutral cleaners, mild liquid dishwashing detergent, and water. After washing with a soap solution, rinse the surface with water and dry with a soft cloth to eliminate water spots and streaking.

If you want to go the easy route, use a commercially available stone cleaner. Debra Johnson, Merry Maids' home cleaning expert, recommends Take It For Granite, a spray that safely cleans granite countertops, floors, and shower walls.

Step 2: Deep Clean, As Needed

For a deeper-cleaning solution, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water; housekeeping and organization expert Amanda Thomas, founder of Moxie Girl, says the spray cleaner gives granite surfaces a nice shine. A combination like this can also help eliminate germs and disinfect granite surfaces.

spice rack and chairs at kitchen island

How to Clean 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 them, so they don't spread. Then, 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 bathroom vanities. 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.

What You Need

  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Soft cloth
  • Plastic wrap

Step 1: Apply Poultice

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 or hydrogen peroxide for water-based stains. Mix the baking soda and liquid into a paste and apply to the stain. Next, gently scrub the countertop with a soft cloth. Rinse with water and repeat until the stain is lifted.

Step 2: Cover with Plastic and Let Sit

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.

granite countertop

How to Clean Granite with Natural Products

While natural products like lemon and vinegar are a go-to for DIY cleaning solutions, you should leave them on the shelf when cleaning granite. Instead, one of the best ways to clean granite naturally is to reach for mild dish soap.

Thomas advises cleaning granite countertops daily with a damp rag and a mild dishwashing liquid and drying surfaces with a microfiber towel. Drying is a crucial step because it helps eliminate 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. The FDA doesn't require as stringent labeling as for food and drugs, but the Environmental Working Group's Cleaners and Air Freshener Guide provides consumers with information about ingredients and products to make a more informed decision about what you bring into your home.

chrome kitchen faucet yellow towel detail

How to Keep Granite Clean and Stain-Free Longer

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:

  1. Think about sealing: Sealing granite surfaces with an impregnating sealer supplies protection against stains. Sealers don't 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.
  2. Use preventative measures: Always put 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, oil-based cosmetics, and creams—on granite countertops.
  3. 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 tip-top shape; worn equipment can scratch granite.
  4. 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.
  5. Avoid harsh cleaners: Granites may contain trace levels of acid-sensitive minerals, 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.

When to Call a Professional

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 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 set you up on a sealing schedule and even recommend specific commercial cleaning products.

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