A granite countertop can last for 100+ years if you care for it properly, so it's a brilliant cost-effective investment for your home. Not only do these kitchen countertops look stylish and sleek, but they're also very hygienic and great for repelling spills, stains, grease, and dirt.
After all, a kitchen can get pretty messy.
While granite countertops are very tough and durable, they're not totally invincible either. If you don't regularly clean and care for your granite kitchen surfaces, your granite counter will start to get stains, become chipped, and let bacteria into small pores in the stone.
As such, the team at Kitchen Infinity believes it is essential to have a proper cleaning and maintenance routine with your granite counter, making sure that you keep on top of this precious natural stone.
In this guide, we're going to show you how to clean granite countertops, look at granite sealing, and show you how to remove stubborn stains and marks if they arise. We recommend checking out our guide to the best granite colors for your kitchen as well!
How Do You Care For Granite Countertops?
There are lots of ways to care for and cleaning granite surfaces. This section is divided into sub-sections for sealing granite, everyday granite cleaning, disinfecting granite, removing oil-based stains, and removing water-based stains.
Let's jump right in!
How to Seal Granite Countertops
Our team at Kitchen infinity recommends using sealed granite as it is much stronger and more moisture-resistant than non-sealed granite, so it's essential to be sure that your granite countertop is sealed properly as part of the care process.
When we talk about “sealing” a lot of people assume that we're talking about sealing the edges of the counter, but in this context, sealing is a process used to “seal” the superficial layer of the granite countertop, helping to protect the delicate natural stone surface from penetrating oils, fats, grease, and all the other kitchen nasties.
Here is a quick guide on how to seal your granite countertops:
1. Buy a high-quality penetrating sealant
First things first, you need to buy a high-quality penetrating sealant specially designed for granite counters.
The sealant is a varnish-like liquid that you can apply with a clean paintbrush or a clean soft cloth. Make sure you buy a sealant that is reputable and made by a good manufacturer – cheap low-quality sealants are a waste of time and won't give us the effect we're after.
Granite countertops are already moisture-resistant by their very nature, but a high-quality penetrating sealant penetrates any tiny grooves and pores in the granite, essentially “sealing” them up so that stains can't get into them.
Cheaper low-quality sealants will sit on top of the surface, and we don't want that.
The penetrating sealant should be oleophobic. This is a fancy way of saying that it resists water, oil, and fat-based stains. In a kitchen, you're going to run into those sorts of stains all the time, so be prepared.
Note: If your granite countertop was installed recently, it's likely that the contractors already sealed it. If this was done in the last 5-10 years, you probably don't need to seal the counter again for now.
2. Prepare your kitchen and clean the granite countertop
Now you've got your sealant, it's time to prep your kitchen and countertop.
First of all, open the windows and make sure that there is adequate ventilation in the room before you do this. If you've got extractor fans, you might want to leave them running for a while during this process. Some people like to have a fan in the room to help the air circulate, but I don't do that personally.
Now you need to clean the granite countertop. Use a ph-balanced gentle soap and warm water to thoroughly clean every inch of the countertop, making sure there isn't a single crumb or droplet in sight. You might want to use a kitchen degreaser if your countertop is in need of some TLC.
Once the counter is clean, buff out the surface with a dry, soft cloth until the granite is completely bone dry. Use circular motions to thoroughly polish the granite dry.
3. Pour on the sealant
Take your sealant and pour a small amount on the surface of the granite. Using a paintbrush or a paper towel (I think paper towel works best), carefully spread the sealant around the entire countertop. A small amount of granite sealant goes a long way, so start with a little and add more as you need it.
As the sealant soaks into the granite, you should notice that the natural stone looks darker. This is normal and the stone will return to its natural color later on. The darkness is caused by the sealant absorbing into the pores and grooves of the surface.
This means it's working!
Using circular motions with a paper towel, make sure that your entire granite countertop is covered with sealant – it should look slightly darker (but not wet) by the time you're done.
4. Let it dry overnight
Once you've applied the sealant, I would suggest allowing it to dry overnight.
Make sure that there is plenty of safe ventilation during this time and obviously avoid using your kitchen surfaces during this period.
You might wanna get takeout that night!
5. Add a little extra sealant until it's ready
In the morning, add some more sealant to the granite countertop using the same process as before. After around 10 minutes, check whether the sealant has absorbed into the counter (making it look dark again).
Basically, we're trying to get the granite sealed enough that the liquid sits on top of the surface in beads instead of absorbing into it.
You want to repeat this process of adding sealant and waiting 10 minutes until the liquid no longer absorbs into the granite. This is when you know that the granite countertops are truly sealed. Once the sealant is sitting on top of the surface, blot it away with a soft cloth or paper towel until it's all dry.
Spills should no longer be able to penetrate your countertops!
6. Buff out the counter
Using a soft dry cloth, buff out the granite until it is completely dry and polished. Use small circular motions all over the surface to ensure that you've got all the sealant off the surface of the natural stone. You can also use an orbital buffer tool for this process if you prefer.
The orbital buffer is much easier!
Before you use the granite for everyday cooking again, I would suggest cleaning it with some warm water and gentle ph-balanced soap. Now it should be totally clean, sealed, and ready to combat spills in your kitchen!
How often do you need to seal granite countertops?
If your countertops are put through a lot of stress every day, you might want to consider re-sealing them every 3-5 years or so. The more you use them, the sooner you probably want to reseal them.
Remember that when the countertops were installed, they were most likely sealed by the contractors who put them in. So if you've only had them installed in the last couple of years, they probably don't need sealing again just yet.
If you don't put your countertops through insane amounts of stress, you can probably get away with sealing them once every 5-10 years.
Everyday Granite Counter Cleaning
When it comes to granite stone care, everyday granite cleaning is very important to ensure that your granite countertops live a long, happy life.
That's what we want!
Though you might use harsh cleaners for other kitchen cleaning, you don't need to use anything too harsh, abrasive, or acidic here. For example, cleaners like vinegar spray and ammonia can remove the sealant that we spent so much time installing, leaving your granite countertops vulnerable to water spills and oil stains.
So, what should you use for everyday granite cleaning then?
Gentle Dish Soap and Water
For casual cleaning, use ph-neutral dish soap with lukewarm water and a clean, soft cloth.
Be sure that the soap you're using isn't acidic or alkaline – it should be as neutral and ph-balanced as possible. Wipe the surface down with the soap and water, going over it with plain water to remove the soap if necessary.
Rinse and repeat, as they say.
Finally, use some paper towel (or similar) to dry the granite countertop. DO NOT let the water sit on the counter, as this encourages penetration and staining over time.
Specialist Granite Cleaner
If you want to get a little more advanced, I would recommend buying a specialized granite cleaner such as Granite Gold, Granite 409, or Stone Care Daily Cleaner.
Some cleaners, like the Stone Care Daily Cleaner, also have sealing properties that help to keep your granite countertops sealed when you're cleaning them regularly.
Two birds, one stone.
Granite cleaners have different instructions depending on the brand you're using, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully in order to keep your granite countertops in good condition!
How to Remove Oil-Based Stains From Granite
Although your mind probably jumps to cooking oil and olive oil, oil-based stains can refer to substances like grease and milk as well, which are technically oil-based liquids.
If an oil-based liquid has penetrated your granite, here's what to do:
- Mix water and baking soda in a small dish until they form a paste-like consistency
- Cover the oil-based stain in this paste, making sure it's covered nice and thick
- Allow this mixture to sit overnight (or for several hours)
- In the morning, clean it off with a damp cloth and gently wash over the surface.
This handy little trick should get rid of any oil-based stains on your granite countertops.
Give it a try!
How to Remove Water-Based Stains From Granite
Again, water-based spills aren't just plain water. Water-based stains can come from tea, wine, coffee, fruit juice, and many other liquids.
If you've got a water-based stain on your granite, here's what to do:
- Mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with baking soda until they form a paste-like consistency
- Once again, apply a thick spread of this paste over the water-based stain(s)
- Allow the mixture to sit overnight (or for many hours)
- Clean it off with a damp cloth in the morning and then wash over the surface.
Cleaning granite countertops can be made easy by following these steps.
Just make sure you know what kind of stain you're dealing with so you know what cleaning method to use!
How to Disinfect Granite Countertops
Every now and then, you may want to disinfect your granite countertops. This is especially true if you have small children, health issues, or if someone in your home is sick and you want to minimize the spread of germs to others in the family.
However, regular kitchen and bathroom disinfectants could be very harmful to your granite, especially if you've just recently sealed it. These natural stone countertops need a special solution for disinfecting.
It all comes down to alcohol!
- In a spray bottle, mix lukewarm water with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Use a 50-50 ratio.
- Spray this water-alcohol solution onto the granite countertop evenly
- Allow the solution to sit for around 5 minutes (this gives the alcohol time to kill any bacteria)
- After 5 minutes, wipe the solution away with a damp cloth.
This is the best way to disinfect your kitchen's granite counters without damaging them.
Granite needs to be looked after!
Tips For Keeping Granite Countertops Clean
Here are some tips for keeping your granite countertops clean and safe when using them in your everyday life:
When placing glasses, cups, or jugs onto your granite countertop, you may want to use coasters. This is good practice for any surface, but coasters stop that “ring effect” from occurring on your granite.
Spills and “rings” from cups and jugs can blend into the granite marble pattern and may go unnoticed for a while, giving the spill time to seep into small pores in the granite.
Don't let spills sit for too long
If you spill something onto your countertop, clean it up as soon as possible. Your sealed countertops are designed to keep liquids above their surface, but the longer the liquid stays there, the more likely that it will slowly penetrate the surface.
Use a damp cloth and gentle dish soap or granite cleaner to mop up spills whenever you see them. The longer they sit, the more damage they can do!
Be careful with solid heavy items
While granite countertops are made from solid natural stone, it doesn't mean they're invincible. Even the most high-quality granite counters may get chips in them if you're throwing pots and pans around irresponsibly.
After paying all that money for granite, you don't want to ruin it. Be careful!
Keep on top of the cleaning
t sounds so simple, but make sure that you keep on top of your cleaning regimen for your countertops!
It's a good idea to wipe them down and use some cleaning solution on them every night before you go to bed. This way, you guarantee that there are no discreet spills sitting on the countertop overnight.
You don't need to be dealing with the hassle of overnight spills soaking into your countertops.
Can You Put a Hot Pan on Granite Countertops?
A lot of people make the mistake of leaving hot pans on their granite countertops.
You may want to reconsider.
Although these countertops are designed to withstand extreme heat naturally, I wouldn't leave anything on there for extended periods of time. The longer you leave a hot pan on there, the more chance that damage will occur to the granite.
This is especially true if the room is cold, making the countertop cold. A cold counter and a hot pan are a very bad combination.
So yes, while you can put a hot pan on a granite countertop briefly, you may want to avoid doing it regularly or for long periods of time.
Can You Use Lysol Wipes on Granite Countertops?
You should not use Lysol wipes on granite countertops. This is because Lysol contains harsh ingredients and acidic citrus scents that can damage your granite and eat away at the sealant, rendering all your hard work useless.
We don't want that!
If you want to disinfect your countertop without damaging it, you may want to use the water and 91% isopropyl alcohol cleaning method we discussed earlier. Mix water and the alcohol together in a 50/50 ratio, put it in a spray bottle, spray it onto the surface, leave it for 5 minutes, and then wipe it clean again.
Cleaning and disinfecting your countertop is important, but we must protect the natural stone's shine and finish.
The Bottom Line
A lot of care goes into granite countertop ownership, despite how naturally strong and moisture-resistant these counters are. With proper maintenance, care, and everyday cleaning, your granite surfaces could easily last for 100+ years, adding a ton of value to your home in the process.
You may even see a return on your investment when it comes time to sell!
Hopefully this guide has shown you how to care for your granite counters effectively, whether that's through sealing, disinfecting, cleaning, or everyday tips and maintenance.
Good luck with your granite care!