From marble to granite, soapstone to butcher block, there is a plethora of countertop options to make your kitchen design dreams come true. Marble offers an instant air of opulence and luxury while butcher block gives cozy farmhouse vibes. But as with most things in life, looks aren’t everything. Your kitchen counter is after all the workhorse of the kitchen: from pouring your morning coffee to sorting your afternoon mail to cooking your evening meal, your kitchen countertop serves as the backdrop to many of your day’s activities. It takes a lot of use.
While it’s tempting to wipe down your countertops with whatever multipurpose cleaner you’ve got at home, it could be dulling or damaging them. That’s why it’s critical to understand the proper cleaning and maintenance needs of each material. To protect your countertops, heed these expert tips on how to clean based on the material you have in your home.
Wood and butcher block
To keep your wood countertops looking great, clean daily with a nonabrasive cleaner or a homemade mix of warm water with a splash of distilled white vinegar. Gently scrape off any food residue with a spatula or a metal pastry scraper.
Be sure to wipe the counters after cleaning so they are completely dry. For stubborn stains, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle salt directly onto the stain. Rub in the salt with the lemon half. Clean off the salt and lemon juice with a homemade solution of water and distilled white vinegar. In the case of scratches or dings, sand down the wood and reapply the sealant.
While marble is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and luxurious looking materials, it is actually one of the most prone to damage. Marble is notorious for scratching, etching and staining easily.
The good news is that marble can be cleaned just as easily. Grab a spray bottle filled with warm water and a non-abrasive dish soap and some soft towels. Make sure to avoid any acid-based natural cleaners such as vinegar and lemon juice as those can etch marble’s surface. For deeper stains, make a paste of water and baking soda and let sit for at least 24 hours.
Similar to marble, granite can be cleaned daily with a mix of warm water and mild dish soap. In the case of major stains, first consider the type of stain. For water-based stains, clean with hydrogen peroxide. For oil-based stains, clean with a paste made of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the stain, cover with plastic wrap and tape down the edges. Let sit overnight –– a couple days is better if you can give up the real estate –– and then rinse off. If the stain isn’t gone completely, repeat the process. To ensure the method won’t affect the color or finish of the stone, consider doing a test spot first. To prevent future stains, reseal your granite countertops annually.
Made from resin-bound quartz crystals, engineered stone re-creates the look of its natural counterparts without requiring the same maintenance. One major benefit is that quartz doesn’t react to acids and is more resistant to scratching. Another is that quartz countertops are largely stain-resistant.
Like with granite and marble, these countertops can be washed with mild soap and water. However, if you happen upon a spot that just won’t come out with the soapy water, try a glass cleaner with a nonabrasive sponge.
As a nonporous natural stone, soapstone is resistant to stains and scratches. It’s also heat-resistant: you can place pots directly onto the countertop. As such, soapstone countertops can be cleaned with virtually any multipurpose cleaner, as long as it’s not abrasive.
Most stains should come out with your multipurpose cleaner, but for tougher stains and scratches grab a sheet of very fine sandpaper-––no rougher than 80 grit. After sanding, apply a thin layer of mineral oil with a clean cloth.
What laminate may lack in design, it makes up for in durability. For laminate countertops, simply use a clean cotton cloth with water and a mild, non-chemical liquid detergent. Stay away from harsh solutions with acid or alkali or abrasive tools like steel wool or scouring pads.
For tough stains a baking soda and water paste works well, but the application is different. Apply the paste to the stain and let sit for five minutes then rinse off with a soft cloth. Don’t scrub, as baking soda is mildly abrasive. However, if your laminate is textured, try using a scrub brush with soft bristles to get into the nooks and crannies during a deeper clean.
There’s a reason you’ll see stainless steel in restaurant and commercial kitchens: it requires nothing more than a regular wipe-down with soap and water. Still, you’ll want to avoid scratching the surface and stay on top of smudges and streaks.
Use a microfiber towel and cleaner made especially for stainless steel to buff them out. Avoid abrasive scrubbing pads or steel wool, which can scratch the surface. Despite its name, stainless steel can still get unsightly stains. Mix a paste of dish soap and baking soda and use a soft cloth to rub in the direction of the grain.
No matter what kind of kitchen countertops you have, a little research and the right tools will go a long way in keeping them looking as great as they did when first installed.
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