First rule for proper care of your countertops, table tops, vanities, etc.: make sure they are properly sealed. To check, spill a little bit of water onto them and give it a few minutes, then wipe up the water. If there is a darker area where the water was, this is an indication that the water absorbed into the stone and it's time for a re-seal. Be sure to check in the most used areas.
Now, for routine cleaning and maintenance... this firm rule applies to all stone surfaces—counter tops, floors, walls, etc.—using a “glass cleaner” or “water with a little dish soap” are common but erroneous recommendations that you may hear. Glass cleaners may turn out to be too harsh to both the stone and the sealer (if one has been applied). Water and dish soap can leave an unsanitary and unsightly film that will build up and become problematic to remove. (Wash your hands with dish soap and then rinse them under running water; observe how long and how much water it will take to rinse properly. To get the same rinsing result—which is the only one acceptable—for your counter tops, you would have to rinse them with a garden hose!)
Generic household cleaners off the shelves of the supermarket are out, and specialty cleaners specifically formulated to deal with the delicate chemistry of stone are, very definitely, in order.
DO’S & DON’TS - KITCHEN COUNTER TOPS
DO clean your kitchen counter top regularly with an appropriate stone-safe cleaner. Use a higher concentration near cooking and eating areas, and diluted water for less demanding situations such as vanity tops—areas of the counter top far from cooking and eating areas.
DON'T let any spills sit too long on the surface of your counter top. Clean spills up (by blotting only) as soon as you can. But, if you do have dried-on spills . . .
DON'T use any green or brown scouring pads for dried-on spills. The presence of silicon carbide grits in them may scratch even the toughest granite. You can safely use the sponges lined with a silvery net, or other plastic scouring pads. REMEMBER: it’s very important to spray the cleaner and let it sit for a while to moisten and soften the soil, before scrubbing. LET THE CLEANING AGENT DO THE WORK! It will make your job much easier and will be more effective.
DO treat your counter tops to a conditioning stone polish occasionally. It can do a terrific job at brightening up your polished stone surface. Be sure that the ingredients are classified as "food-grade." As with all the products, be sure to follow the label instructions.
DO'S AND DON'TS FOR VANITY TOPS
DO clean your vanity tops regularly with a stone-safe, soap-free neutral cleaner appropriate for your natural stone type.
DON'T take chances with cleaning your mirrors over your marble vanity tops with a regular glass cleaner. The over-spray could spill onto the marble surface and may damage it. Therefore:
DO clean your mirror with a neutral cleaner. Even if you over-spray it, nothing bad is going to happen to your marble.
DON'T use any powder cleanser, or—worse yet—any cream cleanser.
DON'T do your nails on your marble vanity top, or color or perm your hair near it.
DON'T place any wet bottle on it (perfume, after-shave, etc.). Keep your cosmetics and fragrances in one of those pretty mirror trays (be sure that the legs of the tray have felts tips) or other appropriate container.
DO use a stone polish if you want to add extra shine to your polished stone counter top surface and help prevent soiling.
Visit our Caring For It page to see products we recommend and to download our complete Stone and Tile Care Guide. If you need help, call us. We are here for you for all of your natural stone care needs.
This is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Stone and Tile PRO Partners.