I’ve mentioned that we are starting to plan our kitchen renovation. Every time I think I’ve picked out what I want and have settled on exactly what we will be doing, I learn a little more and change my mind. I’ve gone from tile floors to hardwood to vinyl plank. Now I’m second guessing my countertop selection. I had settled on granite figuring it is pretty much indestructible and needs no work once it’s installed, but then my mom (who has granite countertops) suggested I do a little research. Turns out there are at least six things that can damage granite and it does require regular maintenance.
Granite is a very durable material, which, coupled with its aesthetic appeal, makes it a popular choice among homeowners for kitchen countertops. Despite granite’s durability, it is still susceptible to damage, including stains, etching, and scratches. The best way to combat this damage is to reapply a sealant every 12 to 18 months and clean up spills as they occur. However, certain things are especially harmful to granite and should be avoided. Here are several items that are harmful to granite.
Any liquids that penetrate granite can leave stains, but acid is particularly damaging to the stone. It eats away at the sealant and can cause stains and etching on the granite. Etching is the gradual dulling of the stone. Vinegar, citrus products, soft drinks, tomato juice, grape juice, coffee, and wine are acidic substances that are commonly found in kitchens. Acidic liquids stain even sealed granite if they sit for long enough. These substances should be cleaned up right away if spills do occur. It is best to avoid cutting citrus fruits directly on granite, as well.
Cooking oils and grease
Like acids, cooking oils and grease damage the sealant and leave stains on granite countertops. When water seeps into granite countertops, it leaves a dark spot but then evaporates within minutes. Like water, cooking oils seep into granite but do not evaporate, causing permanent stains. If oil or grease does spill, it should be cleaned up as soon as possible with a granite-friendly cleaner.
Hot pots and pans
Although hot pots and pans are not harmful to granite, they do weaken the sealant. An impaired seal does little to prevent other harmful substances from permanently damaging granite. The good news is that this damage is easy to avoid. Using hot pads will protect the seal from the dangerous temperatures.
Disinfectants and other cleaning products
Disinfectant cleaning products can contain chemicals that are incredibly harmful to granite countertops. In addition to disinfectants, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and cleaners containing bleach should not be used on granite. These cleaners contain harmful ingredients, such as vinegar, citric acids, and ammonia. The harsh ingredients eat away at the sealant and can cause etching or stains. Bleach is a powerful cleaner, but it should not be used on granite because it is hard on sealers and can leave stains.
The only thing that can scratch granite is a material that is harder than itself. Unfortunately, this includes precious gems such as sapphire, topaz, and diamond. These gems are common among jewelry pieces. Scratches are easy to avoid by simply being careful not to slide rings, bracelets, or any other jewelry across granite countertops to prevent damage to the stone.
Personal care products
In addition to kitchens, granite countertops are common in bathrooms. Certain personal care products contain ingredients that are harmful to granite. These products include perfume, lotion, and nail polish. It is best practice to clean spills as they happen to maintain the durability and beauty of granite countertops.
Other Tips for Granite Care
Certain substances and materials are harmful specifically to granite or the protective sealant. However, there are additional things that you should avoid using on granite countertops for various reasons. For example, raw meats should never be placed directly on the countertop. Although it will not harm the granite, its porous texture can absorb the bacteria, which can then lead to cross-contamination. Likewise, knives should never be used directly on the granite countertops. Like raw meat, it won’t harm the granite. Instead, it will dull and damage the knife.
Sealants are the most productive way to prevent damage to granite countertops. However, a sealer is useless if it is also damaged. It is just as important to avoid the substances that are harmful to sealers as it is to avoid those harmful to granite. Additionally, sealants are only effective to an extent. If a spill is left sitting long enough, it can stain the granite, whether a sealant is there or not.
To keep granite countertops beautiful, they must be properly cleaned daily. There are many cleaning products created for granite countertops. Dusting with a microfiber cloth will prevent any etching and keep the stone shiny. Lastly, polishing granite countertops once a week will maintain their shiny finish. Taking proper care of granite countertops will ensure that they maintain a beautiful appearance and last for the lifetime of the home.