The humble kitchen countertop is easily the most hardworking surface in your house. Unless you are a professional craftsman with your studio, there won’t be a single surface that you use and clean more often than your kitchen counter. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do it right, to know how to properly maintain it, and to know how to give it an extra deep clean when needed.
Cleaning Wood Countertops
Wood is easier to clean than you might suspect, but if you want it to last, the name of the game is to do it often. A non-abrasive store-bought cleaner or a homemade mix of warm water with a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar will do the trick. You can use an open weave cloth or a plastic spatula or a metal pastry scraper to get embedded food off the surface of the wood. After using the cleaner, wipe it down again with water, and then use a dry cloth to finish.
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Removing Stains from Wood Countertops
Using caustic cleaners, like bleach, is a quick way to ruin your wooden surface. Try this to remove stains: sprinkle salt directly onto the stain and then cut a lemon in half and use it to rub in the salt. Clean off the salt and lemon juice with your standard bowl of water and 1 tbsp of vinegar.
Cleaning Marble and Granite Countertops
These are very easy to clean daily with just warm water and mild dish soap for everyday cleaning. A good microfiber towel will buff the surface to give you that classic Detroit granite countertops gleam, but this is hardly a vital stage of the process. It is tempting, but you should again avoid abrasive or acidic cleaners. This can strip the sealer and etch the stone, leaving it looking unpleasant and opening pockets for bacteria to form.
Removing Stains from Marble and Granite Countertops
Make a paste from baking soda and water for stains on granite or marble countertops if your stain is oil-based. All you do is apply the paste to the stain, cover it with plastic wrap, and tape down the edges. You can then let this sit overnight, or even for a few days. Then, remove the plastic wrap and rinse off the paste. You can repeat the process if the stain isn’t completely gone. If you have any doubts about your surface, just do a spot test first in an out-of-sight area, to make sure this method won’t affect the color or finish of the stone.
How to Clean Laminate Countertops
Using a cotton cloth with water and a mild, non-chemical liquid detergent will keep your laminate happy and healthy for years. You want to avoid harsh products that are either very acidic or alkaline since that will eat away at the finish, and coarse objects like steel wool or scouring pads will just shred it away.
Removing Stains from Laminate Countertops
As above, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply the paste to the stain, but only let it sit for five minutes, or so. You should then be able to easily rinse it off with a soft cloth. Repeat if necessary.
Cleaning Quartz and Engineered Stone Countertops
Engineered stone is commonly made from quartz crystals set in resin, recreating the look of its natural counterparts, while making them easier to maintain. Like the others, these countertops can be washed with mild soap and water.
Removing Stains from Quartz and Engineered Stone Countertops
Part of the engineering quality is that quartz countertops are engineered to be stain resistant. If you ever do come across a persistent mark, however, that soap and water can’t handle, a glass cleaner and non-abrasive sponge will do the trick.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Countertops
There’s a reason you’ll see stainless steel all over commercial kitchens. It needs no sealing and can withstand a lot. Although it can take any number of cleaners you can throw at it, you don’t need that much, even for the worst spills and messes. A regular wipe-down with soap and water is very adequate. As ever, you’ll want to avoid scratching the surface. Use a microfiber towel and cleaner made especially for stainless steel to buff out any streaks and blemishes. Scrubbing pads and steel wool may seem attractive, but these can scratch the surface irreparably, and that could be a costly mistake.
Removing Stains from Stainless Steel Countertops
Ironically, stainless steel does occasionally stain. Simply mix a paste of dish soap and baking soda and use a soft cloth to rub in the direction of the grain until the stain vanishes.
Cleaning Soapstone Countertops
One of the reasons that soapstone is so attractive is because of the finish which occurs because it is naturally nonporous, thus making it inherently resistant to stains and scratches. You can clean it with almost any multipurpose cleaner if it’s not too strong or abrasive.
Removing Stains from Soapstone Countertops
Again, most stains can be removed with a solid multipurpose cleaner, and there’s no need to be too delicate about it. Soapstone is relatively soft, however. If you encounter scratches and tough stains, you can remove these with very fine sandpaper (80 grit or higher). You’ll want to reseal it after doing this, so apply mineral oil with a fine cloth in small circular motions after sanding, to restore it to its former glory.