You saved, agonized over the numerous surface options, selected the perfect material and color and now you are loving your new countertops! However, you don’t know how to properly care for them and, after searching Google, you discover mounds of conflicting information from various resources and ‘experts’.
The question of how to care for countertops is by far the most frequently asked question I get. I have found over my years in the design world since, until recently, I specialized in countertops, that even some professional designers aren’t completely sure how to instruct clients to properly care for their new tops.
You are in luck because today, I will tell you everything! Ready?…..(you will want to get your paper and pen handy to take notes. I will pause while you gather these items and I listen to the theme song from Jeopardy in my head!)
Ok, now that you are back, here it is: (drumroll please….)
WARM WATER AND MILD DISWASHING LIQUID
and wipe countertops dry with a clean, dry cloth
Yep, that’s it! Regardless of what type of counters you have; laminate, marble, granite, quartz, concrete, solid surface, glass….(you get my point), the very best thing to clean and sanitize your countertops is plain, old dishwashing liquid (Dawn, Joy, Ajax….) and water!
I do recommend that you stay away from the citrus-based dishwashing liquids (grapefruit, orange, lemon…etc.) because in extreme cases, over time, the citrus juices could damage the finish on your countertops, regardless of what material they are.
So, that’s all you need! Amazing, isn’t it?
Now, if you have wood countertops, you will want to oil them once or twice per year with an organic oil of some sort. You can purchase these organic oils (usually tongue oil from the tongue nut tree) at health food stores, large home improvement retailers or on-line.
Should the countertops in your lovely home be solid surface (Corian, Hi-Macs, Formica, etc.), you might have some specific needs. To start, if you find your integrated solid surface sink gets dingy or stained, that’s an easy clean. Use a magic eraser to remove the dinginess before going to bed. Then, fill the sink with a solution of 50% bleach and 50% water and let it soak while you sleep. In the morning, let the water out, give the sink a good rinse and you have a bright sink again! If you find that your top has dull spots, say where you rubbed a stain out of the counter, don’t worry. Solid surface, over time, comes to a slightly satin finish (as opposed to the more matte finish it has when it’s installed) due to the oils in skin and food. Please resist the urge to purchase a countertop polish to slather all over your solid surface tops. Polishes are not necessary for this type of countertop and, will wear off unevenly, leaving horribly visible spots on your tops over time. Just be patient with that dull spot for a bit and pretty soon you won’t notice it anymore because it will resume to the same sheen as the rest of the tops!
Granite countertops are not nearly as delicate as everyone wants to believe; after all, it IS a rock formed millions of years ago under intense pressure. If you purchase granite that requires periodic sealing (as opposed to the option in the market over the last 3 or so years that has a permanent seal already on the stones when your tops are installed), you will need to seal it at least once per year. This process is so simple! Clean clutter off the tops and then wipe them down with acetone (which can be purchased at any home improvement or hardware store) to remove dirt, grit, grime and old sealer. Then, simply apply the new sealer liberally, wipe per the sealer’s instructions and you are done! Easy, right? And you thought sealing your stone tops would be a huge production, didn’t you?
I absolutely never recommend cleaning your tops, regardless of what material they are, with bleach, any sort of cleaner like Pledge, Mr. Clean, Windex, etc. (even if it says you can use it on countertops), or any other sort of generic cleaner or disinfectant. If you wash your tops with mild dishsoap and warm water after using them, they will be clean and disinfected without using harsh chemicals.
There you have it! Simple, right? I thought you would appreciate the simplicity of the truth!