The Complete Guide to Cleaning Stone Countertops

Follow these simple guidelines to care for your stone countertops.

For everyday cleaning on most stone materials – use a soft, clean towel with warm, soapy water. Make sure to use mild dish soap because soap that is too abrasive for hands will be too abrasive for countertops. Harsh soap can diminish the seal on the surface, which can increase the risk of staining. If anything is spilled on the countertops (such as wine or juice), do not wipe the area as this could spread the stain. Dab the area with a clean towel/microfiber cloth instead.

MWMG recommends not using wax, bleach, Limeaway, or high-pH cleaners on any countertop surfaces.

Basic Maintenance & Cleaning Granite Countertops

For granite maintenance, Midwest Marble & Granite offers a cleaner/sealer called Supreme Surface. It is a granite solution that cleans, polishes, and seals countertops. A recommended usage for this cleaner is every few days as needed to help preserve the seal on the surface as well as protect against stains. The solution is eco-friendly and safe to use around food, pets, and children; however, do NOT eat the solution. It smells so wonderful that you think, “I bet it would taste good too.” Please do not consume the solution.

Most granite comes pre-sealed with a resin from the processing company. There are maybe a handful of colors that will not be sealed through processing and a knowledgeable MWMG associate can provide information on which colors do not have a resin and which colors do in case there is a need for a low-maintenance countertop. A good test to do if there is an inkling that the countertops need to be sealed…simply take a wet finger and run it over the surface of the granite in various places, including next to the sink. If the water beads up, the countertops are still sealed. If it looks like the water is absorbed into the stone, this could indicate that the tops are not sealed. If a sealer needs to be purchased, most local hardware stores will carry them. We recommend using DuPont Penetrating Impregnator Sealer or a similar product.

Midwest Marble & Granite offers granite sealing as well at an affordable price that is based on the square footage of countertops space and type of granite (some colors soak up more sealer than others).

For granite stains that have already set in – There are poultices that tackle a wide variety of stains. Please be advised that not ALL stains can be removed. Rust is an example of a difficult (if not impossible) stain to have removed. A resurfacing professional will need to be consulted if there is a rust stain on granite countertops. Please see our poultices blog for advice on different stain types.

Using granite as a cutting board – please be advised that it will not damage your countertops; however, it could diminish the surface polish if the same area is used for cutting. Also, the granite will significantly make the knives dull.

Basic Maintenance & Cleaning Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertop maintenance is similar to granite. In most situations, just use soapy water and a paper towel, clean microfiber cloth. We recommend that once a spill is made, clean it up right away before the substance dries. It is recommended by Dupont that stubborn or dried spills should be cleaned with a scotch Brite pad with Formula 409 Glass and Surface Cleaner.

Midwest Marble & Granite recommends not using quartz countertops as a cutting board. Unlike granite, the countertops can/will scratch with the use of knives, so it is very important to use cutting boards. Also, we recommend using trivets for hot pots, pans, or any hot cooking dishes. Yes, quartz countertops can resist heat and scratches but they are not heat or scratch-proof. Keep in mind that this type of countertop is somewhat man-made and there is a chance of staining, scratching, and heat marks.

Basic Maintenance & Cleaning Marble, Limestone, and Travertine Countertops

Cleaning marble, limestone, and travertine require the same care because they are in the same family (for cleaning requirements anyway). These stones are more susceptible to certain chemicals, liquids, and foods. The most common way to clean these surfaces is simply using soapy water and a nonabrasive cloth, a sponge, a microfiber cloth, or a paper towel. Some websites will say that they are high-maintenance countertops while others will say they are low-maintenance. MWMG recommends using coasters when possible, do not slide anything across the surface, try not to spill any acidic liquids, using trivets, and do not use any oil-based sealers/cleaners.

These materials have a tendency to stain, etch, and scratch easier than granite or quartz. If staining does occur, identify what type of stain is present….is it acidic, organic, ink-based, paint-based, etc? Clean up the stain by dabbing it immediately with a dry cloth, towel, microfiber cloth, or paper towel. Apply the area with mild soap and water several times. Dry thoroughly and repeat if necessary.

For extra precautions against staining – seal the stone to make it more stain resistant (notice how that doesn’t say stain proof). The most common practice for MWMG is to apply an impregnating sealer that will act as more of a repellent. Make sure any sealer that is used is water-based.

For more information on cleaning and getting to know these stones, please refer to the Marble Institute of America.

DIY Cleaning Solutions for Cleaning Granite Countertops ONLY

Please keep in mind that this information refers to DIY cleaners that can be used with granite countertops only. We are obtaining knowledge about poultices (if they exist) for other stone materials. Below is a list of possible stains and how to address the stains with homemade and non-homemade DIY cleaners.

Oil, Makeup, Grease, or Milk 

Mix one cup of unbleached flour with three-four tablespoons of Blue Dawn dishwasher liquid and warm water. Add water until the mixture has the consistency of yogurt. Apply 1/4″ thick of the mixture to the stain and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure to tape down all the sides and let sit for 24-48 hours. The drying process is what will pull the stain out of the countertop, so make sure it is dry or fairly dry when removing it with a spatula. Wash the surface with mild soapy water and clean cloth or microfiber cloth. To determine if it worked or not, the surface will need to be completely dry.

Water or Heat Marks

Acetone (not including nail polish remover) is completely safe to use on granite countertops. We use acetone on certain granite colors in the shop at MWMG. Lightly rub the area to remove the marks; however, if that does not work, use 0000-grade steel wool with the acetone and gently rub the surface. Do not use any other kind of steel wool because it will be too abrasive and may cause the surface polish to fade.

Wine and Juice

Dab the stain to remove as much of the stain as possible. Next, wipe the area with a clean wet cloth to remove any excess dust or particles. Then make a paste consisting of water and baking soda until it has the consistency of sour cream. Apply 1/4″ thick layer and cover with plastic wrap. Allow drying for 24 hours. Use a spatula to remove the mixture and clean the area with water. If this does not work the first time, make another mixture, apply as described, and leave for 48 hours.

Mildew, Mold, or Fungus

Mix together a diluted solution of either ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach. Do not combine any of these substances together (i.e. ammonia and bleach). Add 1/8 cup of one of the substances to one quartz of water, mix well, and spray on the stain. Wipe the area clean. Repeat multiple times if necessary.

Organic (Coffee, Tea, Fruit, Etc)

Sunlight exposure will “bleach out” any outdoor stains. Indoor stains can be removed using a poultice of 12% hydrogen peroxide and baby powder. Mix together until the consistency is like peanut butter and apply 1/4″ thick layer. This poultice will rapidly dry so do not cover. Once dry, remove with a spatula and clean with warm water.

Ink (Markers or Pens)

Bleach or 12% hydrogen peroxide on light-colored granite will pull the stain out. Lacquer thinner or acetone (not finger nail polish remover) will remove the stain from dark-colored granite.

What if none of the homemade solutions worked?

The last option would be to purchase a stain remover. We recommend DuPont because they are the best on the market. The two we recommend the most are StoneTech Professional Oil Stain Remover and StoneTech Mold & Mildew Stain Remover.