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March 3, 2015

How to Make Homemade Granite Cleaner: The Do’s and Don’ts

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Granite kitchen countertops are an appealing choice for many homeowners. If you’re looking for a beautiful countertop material, granite is a great option. In addition to its good looks, granite is renowned for its exceptional durability and relatively minor maintenance requirements over time. The material easily withstands high temperatures and resists most types of stains when it’s properly sealed.

While granite has a lot to offer, it also has a few shortcomings. As with any countertop material, granite can show signs of wear and tear over time — particularly when it isn’t properly maintained. If it’s unsealed or poorly sealed, granite can absorb liquids such as wine, oil, and water. Although it can be expensive to reseal granite countertops once a year, doing so can greatly extend the countertop’s life and appearance.

Aside from resealing, regular countertop cleaning keeps granite countertops shiny and minimizes the buildup of dirt, grime, and bacteria. However, the specialty granite countertop cleaners sold in stores can be quite expensive, forcing homeowners to use them sparingly. A homemade granite cleaner is a great way to keep your countertops looking their best without breaking the bank. In fact, there’s a growing interest in DIY or homemade granite cleaning solutions, and for good reason.

For starters, most homemade cleaners are made with a handful of common household materials such as dish soap and rubbing alcohol. They’re also an affordable alternative to traditional granite cleaners, which can set you back several dollars per ounce. You can also customize the solution with your favorite scented oil or fragrance. Ultimately, making your own cleaning solution can be a fun and rewarding process when done correctly. Let’s explore some of the best — and worst — ways to clean your elegant granite countertops.

What NOT to Use 

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Let’s start with the products you should avoid. Using the wrong type of product or cleaning supplies may quickly damage your granite countertops, potentially leaving them in worse shape than when you started. In some cases, the damage might be relatively minor, but if it’s bad enough, it can lead to a seriously expensive repair.

One of the biggest offenders in natural granite countertop cleaners is citrus or acidic products such as vinegar. Not only will these materials dull the granite’s appearance, but they can also etch or cut the stone. While the etching might appear almost instantly on some countertops, the damage isn’t always immediately apparent. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that it’s safe to use acidic products on your granite countertops — the damage is bound to show up over time. You should also stay away from Windex or similar products. In most cases, a product like this is too harsh for granite and can remove the stone’s valuable seal, making it more prone to build-ups of dirt, grime, and bacteria.

Acidic and citrus substances aren’t a granite countertop’s only enemy. It may seem harmless, but water is also problematic when used on its own or in larger quantities. That’s because it tends to leave streaks behind, temporarily smudging your countertop’s beautiful surface. The good news is that unlike acidic substances, water-related streaking is usually reversible. If you accidentally spill water on the countertop or find that you need to get rid of water streaks, simply mix together a small amount of alcohol (rubbing or regular) along with a few drops of soap. Feel free to use dish soap, hand soap, or any other type of mild soap that you have on hand.

When you prepare them with the right type of materials, natural granite countertop cleaners will clean and restore your countertops and keep the surfaces shiny — without leaving behind streaks or smudges. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit when you’re making your own solution for the first time, as it may take a few trial and error batches before you find the recipe that works best for your kitchen.

Homemade Granite Cleaner

What to Use:

If the thought of making your own homemade granite cleaner makes you cringe, you’ll be relieved to know that most homemade recipes are quite simple and straightforward. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have what you need to whip up your first recipe. You can even customize the recipe to suit your needs, such as adding more or less alcohol or adding in several drops of essential oil for a more pleasant aroma.

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Although many recipes suggest adding in essential oils, you can leave them out if desired. Regardless of which recipe you use, you’ll want to have a relatively large (12 to 16 ounce) spray bottle on hand for easy application.

Here’s an example of one homemade granite cleaner recipe from One Good Thing:

  • • 1/4 cup alcohol — rubbing or cheap vodka
  • • 3 drops of dish or Castile soap
  • • Water
  • • 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil

Start by pouring the alcohol into the spray bottle, followed by the dish soap. Next, add several drops of essential oil and fill the rest of the bottle up with water.

Another recipe uses nearly the same ingredients but in slightly different amounts:

  • • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • • 2 cups water
  • • 6-8 drops Dawn dish soap
  • • 3-4 drops scented oil (optional)

Start by adding the rubbing alcohol first, followed by the water and dish soap. Then, add in several drops of scented oil if you’re using it. You may need to add a bit more or less depending on personal preference. Once all the ingredients are in the bottle, simply shake the bottle vigorously to mix them together and you’re ready to clean!

After finding an ideal combination of ingredients, spray the mixture onto your countertops and wipe the area clean using a soft dry cloth. Most types of softer cloths are sufficient, but many homeowners prefer microfiber for its rapid absorption. If the surface is taking a long time to dry, try buffing it with a dry cloth to speed up the process. You can also use a classic sponge to mop up any remaining moisture.

Although these ingredients work well for cleaning and sanitizing, your granite countertops may need a bit more care to make them truly shine. A water and isopropyl alcohol solution is a great choice for shining and disinfecting even the dirtiest surfaces. An effective solution contains part water and part isopropyl alcohol. Simply mix the ingredients together and spray them onto the granite surface — then, let it sit for three to five minutes. Rinse the area dry and promptly dry it with a clean microfiber cloth.

Cleaning Other Surfaces 

Now that you’ve made your own cleaning solution, you’re probably wondering if it will work on other surfaces around the house. It’s a safe bet to use on most surfaces and appliances, especially because homemade granite cleaners are gentle and effectively clean up grime and dirt in most settings. They’re also safe enough for marble and stone, which don’t do well with acidic ingredients either.

The Best Ways to Properly Clean Your Granite Countertops

Finding the right balance of ingredients for your natural granite countertop cleaner is just half the battle. The other key component of successful countertop maintenance is knowing how to properly clean granite countertops. The thought of cleaning your granite countertops can seem a bit scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. Part of this process involves understanding which products and materials to avoid. It’s also important to use gentle cleaners and sponges to keep from scratching or tarnishing the surface.

To successfully clean your granite countertops without damaging them, it’s best to avoid the following:

Household cleaners — General household cleaners and similar products such as bleach, de-greasers, and glass cleaners often contain harsh materials such as acids and chemicals. Over time, these materials can wear away the surface and cause etching, making your countertops more prone to staining.
Bathroom cleaners — Many bathroom or tile cleaners have abrasive substances that will scratch and dull the granite’s surfaces.
Storing liquids on top — Various liquids and toiletries, such as cooking oils, nail products, creams, and lotions, can stain your granite’s surface even if the lid is on and the product is kept on the countertop for an extended period of time.

After considering which products are harmful for the surface of your countertops, there are also some best practices for cleaning granite countertops and maintaining their sparkle and shine. Basic care, such as cleaning up spills as soon as possible, is essential. Spills can mar the surface, potentially leading to dark or dull spots. It’s best to clean up spills with warm water and mild dish soap.

Wipe down any bit of wetness on the countertop with a dry cloth immediately to keep unsightly water streaks at bay. Depending on the countertop’s overall condition and level of dirtiness, you may need to repeat the process more than once. Keeping up with various daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning regimens can boost your countertop’s appearance and prolong its life.

At the end of each day (or sooner, if your countertop is particularly messy), grab a sponge or dishcloth and some hot water. Use your favorite homemade granite cleaner to spray down any parts that look especially dirty, and then wipe away the solution with a dry cloth. Not only will this keep your countertops in pristine condition, but it also helps to disinfect and protect them. For sufficient weekly cleaning, completely clear off the countertop space so you can reach even those tougher spots. Spray the granite cleaner over the whole surface and along the edges, where crumbs and dirt tend to collect over time. This is also a good time to clean up the dust and debris that’s accumulated in other parts of the kitchen, such as your appliances and containers.

A few other ways to keep your countertops in the best shape include:

Coasters — Coasters prevent mugs, glasses, and other objects from scratching your granite’s surface. Although granite is generally resistant to scratches and etching, it won’t hurt to give your precious countertop an extra layer of protection.
Cutting boards — Granite is durable enough to handle chopping, cutting, and preparing food directly on its surface. However, cutting boards can prevent unwanted scratches and scuffs similar to coasters. Using cutting boards also keeps your knife blades sharp and precise, as they can quickly become dull when used directly on granite countertops.
Hot Pads — Granite is advertised as being heat-resistant, and for the most part it holds up well to high temperatures. Although it’s rare, granite has also been known to crack or chip on occasion, especially when hot pans or plates are repeatedly placed on its surface. The next time you want to put a hot object down on the countertop, be sure to slip a hot pad underneath.

Using proper cleaning practices and products keeps your countertops looking good, but even the most demanding cleaning regimen can’t prevent damage that occurs due to improper sealing. Despite what some experts might suggest, it’s not always necessary to seal your granite countertops at the end of each year. The stone’s absorption rate, and the type and quality of any granite sealer you’ve previously used, plays an important role in determining how often you’ll need to reseal your countertops.

Other factors include how well the initial sealer was applied and whether the countertops have been damaged by harsh cleaners or cleaning products. The best way to determine whether the countertop requires resealing is to check for signs of liquid absorption. One obvious sign of a weakened surface is a darker appearance around the sink, which suggests that water is seeping into the granite.

When it’s time to reseal, consider using a high-quality product that can protect the surface for years to come. Some of the cheaper products may wear down faster, requiring more frequent replacement. If you don’t know if your granite is sealed, start by dropping a bit of water onto the surface. The water will either bead, meaning that the surface is properly sealed, or it will soak into the surface and indicate that you need a new seal.

The Importance of Proper Granite Countertop Care

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It’s no secret that granite countertops are expensive. They’re also known for their durability, heat- and scratch-resistant properties, and overall toughness. Granite is considered to be the oldest building material in the world, and is widely used in kitchens as well as stairs, thresholds, and other household spaces.

Proper maintenance is crucial for extending the life of your countertops. Knowing how to make the right homemade granite cleaner can potentially save you lots of time and money, as long as you do it correctly. Remember to use natural granite countertop cleaners on a consistent basis, steering clear of harmful ingredients including vinegar and anything acidic, such as lemon juice. Sealing the surface once a year, or as needed, is also vital for granite countertop maintenance.

Now that you know how to make your own homemade granite cleaner, visit the Lesher Marble online showroom to see how you can incorporate granite or similar products into your kitchen! Contact us today to learn more about granite countertops.

 

Posted by admin
at 9:37 pm
6 comments
  1. Paula DiBacco says:

    Great information!

  2. Drew says:

    This is a great list of what to do and what not to do when cleaning granite. Rubbing alcohol is a great idea. Thanks for sharing and for the tips.

  3. Jen says:

    Thanks for this. I’m more comfortable using a homemade granite cleaner recommended by someone who actually works with granite! But what about citrus essential oils such as lemon, wild orange, bergamot, etc. Wouldn’t they harm the granite?

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Jen! To answer your question, granite is actually resistant to household acids like citrus and vinegar. If acids like these seep into small cracks, no damage will be done to the stone, but it may cause some discoloration.

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