Cleaning and Maintenance of Granite Countertops

My husband is a Quality/Warranty Director for a residential homebuilder. He has seen many warranty claims caused by homeowner unawareness or neglect, and I hear all of those stories at our dinner table. I thought I could share some of his knowledge and experience.

One of the complaints that he regularly receives from homeowners is that the granite countertops in their homes are becoming cloudy and stained. Upon further investigation, he typically finds that the homeowner has used cleaning chemicals on the granite that strip the seal and leave the porous surface of the granite exposed. In addition, the homeowner has never re-sealed the granite. These two actions can eventually cause permanent stains and a cloudy look.

With every new home, a packet is provided that contains maintenance and care instructions for many of the elements of a house. Each packet contains information specific to the elements in that particular home (countertop material, flooring material, siding, roofing, appliances, furnaces, etc.), and I recommend that every homeowner find a handy place to keep all of those handouts and refer to them regularly. The professionals who do the building and installation of all parts of a home are the most reliable source for instructions on maintaining and caring for them.

We have granite countertops in our kitchen and our master bath, by our choosing, and we love them. We also had granite in our last kitchen, so we have several years’ experience in their maintenance, along with sound advice from the professionals. Granite is a very tough material and, with proper care, will last years longer than some other countertop materials. It is very tolerant of hot pots and pans being accidentally placed on it, and is highly stain-resistant.

Specifically for cleaning granite and to keep it from becoming permanently stained, the professionals recommend cleaners designed for granite countertops. In our home, we simply wipe down the counters with a wet sponge and mild anti-bacterial dish detergent, then follow up with a cleaner made especially for granite. It leaves the surface shiny and will not strip the seal like other chemical cleaners.

However, it is still very important to re-seal granite at least once a year (or every 6 months if it gets a lot of use, like in my home). Sealing granite creates a non-porous layer on the surface, which protects the naturally porous granite, and will help prevent stains and damage. There are granite sealing products on the market, as well. A less expensive alternative, however, is car wax (in a can – not the liquid spray wax). According to the professionals that install the granite in the houses my husband’s company builds, car wax contains virtually the same type of sealant as the specialty granite seals, and will do the same job if used according to the directions. We use car wax on our granite and it works beautifully.

We find our specialty granite cleaners at our local do-it-yourself store, and we truly believe they are worth the extra money in the long run.

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