How to Clean Kitchen Countertops: A Complete Guide
| Published September 20, 2023
A kitchen countertop is one of the few pieces of furniture that gets cleaned or wiped down daily. However, not every kitchen counter is made from the same material.
When you are cleaning kitchen countertops, you have to consider the kind of material you are wiping on. Some materials can be incompatible with your choice of cleaner.
Naturally, you want to avoid the chance of damaging your expensive countertop.
This guide will show you how to properly clean a kitchen countertop without any risks of damage or stains.
Why It’s Important to Clean Kitchen Countertops
A clean countertop is a must in most living spaces. The kitchen countertops become the center point of many activities like eating, chatting, working, etc.
The number of germs and stains can passively accumulate from such traffic. Everyday cleaning is the only way to prevent your table from becoming messy.
At Onix Cleaning Services, we ensure that no germ outbreaks occur when cleaning. One of the biggest areas for potential outbreaks is your kitchen counter.
A kitchen countertop is essential to every meal preparation, so an unclean one can easily spread germs to you and your family
The countertop would also passively pick up germs left behind by passing occupants, objects, and food, adding more germs.
Wash your hands regularly and wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth to prevent widespread cross-contamination.
Increasing Longevity of Countertops
Maintenance of your kitchen counters guarantees their extended life span before replacements.
Marble countertops should be able to last 50 years with care, but the expected lifespan is 20 years due to how vulnerable marble can be.
20 years is the expected lifespan of concrete countertops with cracking and crumbling due to being only temporary.
Granite is among the hardest rocks available and can last 100+ years, like gemstones but only with care.
Hence the importance of resealing natural stone counters as the process fills the porous rocks with a protective liquid to prevent stain formation.
A quartz counter is a special case wherein, compared to the historical use of granite and marble, it has the potential to last 100 years but is only a recent invention.
Most of all, kitchen counters are positioned to be seen by visitors.
From our experience, It would reflect poorly on your mental state and reputation for them to see your counter in such an ill-kept state.
Hence, often wipe and rinse your counter with a soft cloth for any stain formation.
Understanding Different Types of Countertops and Their Specific Cleaning Needs
When cleaning kitchen countertops, it is more than just having you wipe the surface.
You need to know the material the countertops are made of and what cleaners suit them best.
Granite Kitchen Countertops
You can clean granite countertops without harsh chemicals, as they can damage the natural stone due to its porousness.
You instead rely on warm water and mild dish soap for their deeper cleaning. Be sure to rinse the microfiber cloth with water to avoid spreading dirty soapy water.
Afterward, buff the clean granite surface with another microfiber cloth against possible water stains or streaks.
However, for stain removal, there are two methods; Hydrogen peroxide and Baking soda paste;
- Hydrogen peroxide: You apply this over water-based stains.
- Baking soda paste: You apply this thick paste over oil-based stains for a day in plastic wrap.
Although natural stone countertops are very durable, they need resealing to retain their protective layer. Granite countertops need resealing annually.
Quartz Kitchen Countertops
Quartz, unlike stone or granite, is an engineered stone countertop made from resin-bound crystals for a natural appearance.
A quartz countertop is a very popular choice due to how durable the material is. However, this does not make it invincible against spills and other messes.
Before you clean quartz countertops, make sure the material is actual quartz instead of similar-looking materials like Corian.
Quartz is very durable against acidic cleaners like vinegar, but excess can damage the surface.
You instead clean quartz daily with dish soap and water. We recommend using a glass cleaner with a soft cloth or a non-abrasive sponge for a tough stain.
Lastly, unlike its natural stone counterparts, a clean quartz countertop does not need resealing to maintain quality.
Marble Kitchen Countertops
Cleaning a marble countertop can be tricky due to its porousness, but it shares stain-removal techniques with granite.
NOTE: Manufacturers are required by law to present the pH levels of their products on the label.
In our experience, you clean marble countertops with the neutral potential of hydrogen(pH) with warm water instead of dish soap and water. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residues, then dry with a microfiber cloth.
Anything with higher pH may dull the marble or leave behind spots. You also never air dry as marble countertops are prone to spots.
Marble countertops are known to stain easily with water; some stains can be permanent or take weeks to remove. You can protect the marble with cutting boards to blot acidic liquids like white vinegar.
As you clean stone countertops, remember that Marble, like other natural stone countertops, needs resealing every six months at least.
How to Clean Kitchen Countertops
Onix Cleaning Services has different methods for cleaning your kitchen cabinets ready to meet your needs.
How long it will take to clean your countertop depends on the material and how often you clean them. In our experience, it should take about 30-45 minutes to clean them.
Daily Cleaning Routine
Here is a daily routine you can follow to clean your counter with everyday items.
First, clear the surface of any crumbs or debris along with any appliances. The undersides of appliances can hide so much debris.
Then, get a clean microfiber cloth or any other soft cloth material. Dampen the microfiber cloth with warm water and dish soap before you wipe down the stained counter.
NOTE: When wiping down the counter, reapply mild soap as necessary.
Afterward, rinse your microfiber cloths with soapy water and rewet them with warm water. Wet the surface to remove stains and remaining suds before drying it with another microfiber cloth.
Once the counter is dry, use a glass cleaner to remove stains and lingering germs, and let it sit according to the cleaner’s label.
You will need the following items before cleaning;
- Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate): Baking soda is an effective cleaner against most stains but is also an abrasive cleaner and doesn’t remove germs.
- Microfiber cloths: You may need two microfiber cloths to scrub the stains away with the product and to dry the surface afterward.
- Mild dish soap: A mild dish soap to wipe away germs without damaging the countertop’s surface.
- Sealer: A sealer can refresh the protective layer of natural stone, such as granite or marble.
- Disinfectant: Disinfectants are different from your store-bought cleaners; they ensure the removal of germs, especially from hotbeds like raw meat.
- Salt and lemon juice: Natural ingredients to remove stains and other debris.
Deep Cleaning Solutions for Stubborn Stains
The material of your countertop shapes how you would deep clean them for stain removal. For example, butcher block countertops should not be wiped with dish soap and water.
Thus, stain removal for certain counter surfaces can be more difficult. However, a deep clean for spot and stain removal is still possible but with more effort.
You can deep clean wood countertops like butcher block counters with salt and lemon juice. Rub a halved lemon onto the stain with salt to saturate with juice before drying.
You can also use baking soda and warm water for deep cleaning on most countertops. However, baking soda is an abrasive cleaner that can damage your counter’s protective layers; use it with caution.
DIY Homemade Cleaners
Aside from using common products, you can create natural or engineered stone countertops cleaners.
Before using a new cleaner, perform a spot test. You can do this by applying a small amount of the cleaning product onto a stain and letting it sit for a few minutes.
Afterward, scrub it away with a microfiber cloth until you rinse it with water before drying. The test is successful if there is no spot remaining.
NOTE: A granite-specific cleaner is made from 50% isopropyl alcohol and 50% water.
Scrub the granite countertop with a microfiber cloth.
Another homemade cleaning agent would be a mixture of baking soda and water. Mix a tablespoon of water and baking soda until the paste has a thick, sticky consistency..
Then, spread the baking soda paste onto the stain, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it for a day. Afterward, use the typical water and microfiber cloth to wipe the paste off.
Although multiple applications may be needed to remove tough stains, the paste is gentle enough on the granite countertop to avoid surface damage.
The Best Commercial Cleaners for Countertops
Onix Cleaning Services uses these recommended commercial cleaning products when dealing with a particular counter material such as;
- Granite: Granite God is tailor-made to protect the stone and remove its stains.
- Quartz: We recommend Goo Gone for its strength and safety around the engineered stone.
- Marble: Stone Tech Revitalizer has a gentle enough formula to clean and reseal a marble countertop.
- Butcher block: For butcher block countertops, we recommend pure Castile soap instead of mineral oil for tougher stains against wood countertops.
Precautions While Cleaning Countertops
When cleaning, we try to prevent stains as much as possible as we wipe germs away.
The best way to avoid scratching would be to select the most compatible cleaners for your countertop. There are still tips and methods you can keep in mind to minimize further damage.
Common Products You Should Avoid
You want to avoid abrasive cleaners like bleach, white vinegar, and red wine.
Stronger chemicals can slowly destroy the protective coating surrounding the countertop. These acidic cleaners can even harm natural stone countertops.
Avoid the abrasive green side of sponges or scouring pads; they could potentially damage the surface of your countertop by removing the protective coating.
This is why it’s important to do a spot test before cleaning natural or engineered stone countertops.
Safe Cleaning Practices
Frequently washing your hands is the best way to remove germs with warm water and dish soap.
The recommended length is 20 secs before and after handling food, going to the bathroom, and playing with your pets.
Frequently wash and wipe your dishes, utensils, and cutting boards with warm and soapy water whenever you handle food.
After using a microfiber cloth, rinse them with the hot cycle of your washing machine.
How to Sanitize Your Countertops
After drying the surface, you still need to sanitize the counter. You may have cleared it of stains and germs, but this provides extra protection.
Regular sanitation of surfaces prevents the further spread of germs from hotbeds such as raw meat.
Homemade Sanitizing Solutions
Aside from soapy water, there are more effective methods for sanitizing your countertops from any stain formation.
It is a misconception to think commercial sanitizers are stronger than natural ones as they are just as strong with the right ingredients.
Creating homemade sanitizers also allow you to use your more acidic house products in a way that doesn’t damage the surface.
You can make your kitchen counter sanitizers with the following ingredients;
- Vinegar: Mix vinegar with water and into a spray to deodorize and disinfect your surface; add three drops of essential oil for scent.
- Dish soap and water: Dish soap and water is the simplest mixture to make and rinse your counter.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon is very effective in sanitizing laminate countertops.
- Rubbing alcohol: Mix the alcohol with warm water into a spray bottle to clean the granite surface.
Commercial Sanitizing Products
Although homemade options are frugal options, store-bought cleaners are just as reliable and affordable for most households:
- Clorox Disinfectant Wipes: Clorox Disinfectant Wipes are bleach-free and can wipe away stains on most countertops.
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray: Lysol Disinfectant Spray uses small amounts of ammonia instead of bleach, produces less stink, and is gentler on the skin.
- Clorox Bleach: Clorox Bleach is consistently available and recommends half a cup per gallon of water to make disinfectant solutions.
Tips for Maintaining Clean Countertops
Based on our experience, these insights can help in maintaining a clean kitchen far more manageable in the future.
Regular Cleaning Habits
Aside from washing your hands, we recommend you do the following;
- Wipe down your kitchen countertops daily regardless of material, even laminate countertops.
- Keep a cleaning caddy within reach to hold all your cleaning supplies, from sponges to extra mineral oil.
- Avoid cluttering your main countertop, as every object can hold dust and eventually stains, even on stainless steel countertops.
- Do your cleaning chores consistently to ensure no stain formation in any furniture or fixture in your living space.
Treating Spills Immediately
Regarding kitchen tabletops, you must consider how different tables react to spills. Stainless steel countertops can form mineral deposits if the spill is left unattended for too long.
Natural stone counters are vulnerable to vinegar but can handle a typical soapy wash rinse for any rinse.
As a rule, do not let any spill linger or risk stains on the surface. Two-sided scrub pads should be a reliable utensil for clearing any stains out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although you are more familiar with cleaning a counter, you may still have questions about cleaning countertops.
Here are some of the answers to the most common ones.
How Often Should I Clean My Kitchen Countertops?
Make sure to clean your kitchen countertops daily to prevent germs from contaminating your meals.
A faint or unnoticed spot can easily become a new problem if you don’t apply any cleaner or wipe it away within the day.
Can I Use Vinegar to Clean My Kitchen Countertops?
Although white vinegar is an effective cleaner, it is still very acidic to most kitchen counter materials. Ensure that you wipe away germs and stains, but you may damage the countertop.
How Can I Remove Tough Grime From My Countertops?
Rinsing with scrub pads is usually all it takes to remove stains, but there will come a time to go against tougher grime.
This will depend on the material being cleaned because some have more suitable methods, such as using thick paste on natural stone countertops.
What’s the Best DIY Cleaner for Kitchen Countertops?
There is no particular do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaner for kitchen countertops that stands out. This is because each material can benefit from different techniques.
Natural stone countertops have a thick paste from baking soda to clean them. On the other hand, wood countertops and soapstone countertops have mineral oil against their stains.
The most effective cleaner for them would be store-bought neutral pH cleaners. (NOTE: These cleaners are most effective for concrete counters.)
However, it won’t be as effective as lemon juice on laminate countertops. The advantage of DIY is that you can tailor the solution to your counter’s material and stain removal.
How Can I Disinfect My Countertops After Preparing Raw Meat?
You can use a multi-purpose cleaner to wipe the area after preparing raw food. Just be sure the cleaner is not too acidic for the countertop, especially concrete counters.
There is no true method to clean a kitchen countertop and prevent stains. You must be familiar with the material.
Each has a cleaner that suits it best, from marble countertops to concrete countertops, like butcher block counters with mineral oil.
However, all it takes is consistency for you to have clean countertops and germ-free living space.