How to Clean the Countertop: Countertops come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from all kinds of materials including granite, acrylic, laminate, treated wood, steel, marble – and even bamboo! Countertops are going to need some special attention because not only should they be clean, but they also need to be hygienic if food is prepared or eaten on or around them.
Needless to say, it’s nearly impossible to provide useful tips for every type of countertop out there, but here are a few for the most common types.
Despite its solidity, granite is surprisingly delicate stuff. Never use anything acidic on granite countertops – like white vinegar (boo!) – as this will damage the surface. Only clean them with a sponge or soft cloth soaked in a weak solution of warm, soapy water.
Granite can be porous, so it needs to be ‘sealed’ before it is cleaned and installed. Some granite providers sell specialized cleaning kits that contain this sealing solution, so it is always a good idea to contact the company that installed your countertops about these products.
As wood stains easily, try to mop up any spills from the countertop as soon as they occur.
Wood is naturally porous, so always keep your countertop as dry as possible and remember to rub linseed or mineral oil once a month into the surface to help seal it against moisture.
For general cleaning, a quick wipe over with a sponge dipped in a watery solution of mild liquid detergent will suffice – but ALWAYS dry off the wood thoroughly afterwards.
What if that cup of coffee has left a nasty brown stain on the top? Here’s what you do:
Dip an old toothbrush in a little lemon juice and scrub lightly at the surface.
For really stubborn marks, mix a half cup of baking soda with a quarter of warm water and then scrub the stain vigorously with a scouring pad. A mild liquid detergent might also work but, as usual, make sure you dry off the area thoroughly after you’ve scrubbed it.
To remove nasty smells, sprinkle the surface of your countertop with baking soda and then rub it in with a damp sponge. Alternatively, you could rub on a little lemon juice to help naturalize the odors.
Wood likes to absorb things and so it can easily become a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria and viruses. Therefore, to disinfect your countertop, simply mix a tablespoon of household bleach with a gallon of water in a bucket. Then decant some into a spray bottle, and apply and wipe the surface with this solution after every use.
Though you can spray on neat white-vinegar to disinfect wooden countertops, ensure you thoroughly wipe down the surface afterwards using a clean cloth. This helps to prevent the vinegar from dissolving the glue holding the pieces of wood, causing the countertop to crack along the joints.
Like wood, try to keep stainless steel countertops dry at all times. This will help prevent those ugly water spots appearing.
Never use harsh chemicals as they will cause permanent damage to your countertop and never use abrasive materials like wire wool, rough cloths or pads, as they will scratch the surface and ruin the steel’s reflective finish.
To keep stainless steel clean, regularly wash the surface with warm water and a small amount of baking soda. As noted earlier, always thoroughly dry your countertops after cleaning. Watch out for mineral deposits, which can be extremely tough to clean on this material. To remove mineral deposits, use a small amount of white vinegar. Then rinse well with water and then thoroughly dry with a cloth and sheets of paper-towel.
Unlike granite, wood and steel, Formica is cheap, needs little maintenance and can last a long time if properly looked after.
To clean Formica counters, avoid abrasive cleaners – including ammonia or bleach. Instead, use a mild detergent, a soft cloth and warm water. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains and streaking.
If you do get a stain or streaks start appearing, then once again – grab that pack of baking soda!
Simply mix the soda with a little water to make a paste, spoon this onto the stain, and then wipe it off with a cloth.
For a really stubborn patch, apply the paste, cover over the area with a layer of plastic wrap and tape down the edges to seal it to the countertop. Leave this to dissolve the stain for at least a couple of hours (the longer you leave it the better), and then peel off the wrap and wipe off the paste with a cloth.
Silestone is made of incredibly tough quartz and your worktop should be finished with aprotective polish that makes it even more scratch, stain and scorch-resistant.
You do have to look after this layer, however, so avoid harsh, abrasive cleaners and souring pads. Only clean the surface using a mild household cleaner with a nonabrasive cleaning sponge or pad. Also, avoid using excessive pressure or force.
If a stain sets on the surface, soak the area for a few minutes to loosen the stubborn food particles, and then use a soft cloth to remove the mark.
For countertops, concrete is often cured and coated with sealant for protection and durability.
Like silestone, you need to protect this layer so always avoid using abrasive soaps and cleaning solutions containing harsh chemicals. Abrasive pads and sponges can also damage the surface, too. For cleaning, use a mixture of white-vinegar and water applied with a sponge or soft cloth.
Though easy to clean, any non-abrasive soap will do, the grout between the tiles can be a real pain as it’s so soft. However, a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, followed by a gentle scrubbing with baking soda and an old toothbrush should remove most of the dirt.
Nine times out of ten a quick wipe in soap water should do the trick, but remember to keep these dry as much as possible to maintain their luster.
For stains, try out some hydrogen peroxide mixed with a little of our old friend, baking soda. To do this, simply sprinkle the baking soda directly onto the stain. Then pour the peroxide onto the baking soda or apply with a spray bottle. Once the mixture starts to fizz, wipe away with a clean, dry cloth.
Marble reacts very badly to any kind of acid (sorry white-vinegar fans), so wipe up wine, fruit juice and other acidic food spills immediately to prevent the surface permanently etching.
Only clean by spraying a mild soap solution onto the countertop and then wiping it off with a soft, lint-free cloth. Use a second cloth to buff the stone dry.
Marble is very porous, so it’s a good idea to treat it with a special stone sealer to reduce its porosity. This will also make it less of a “germ” trap and more stain resistant.
If you do get stains, wipe the area with a wet cloth. Then mix up a thick paste of water and baking soda (our hero!) in a bowl. If the marble is white, you can use a bottle of 6 percent hydrogen peroxide for your liquid, instead of water. Slather the paste over the affected area and then tape plastic-wrap over it to stop it drying out. This is done in exactly the same way as stain removal for a Formica counter top. Leave it for 24-48 hours and then peel away the wrap. The now dry baking soda would have pulled up most of the stain. Repeat the process if needed.
This taped-up cling-wrap over a blob of goo-thing is properly termed as a “poultice.”
Last, but by no means least, the most common countertop out there – plastic laminate.
To clean laminate countertops use a clean cloth and a mixture of mild dishwasher soap and water. Then dry the countertop after washing to prevent any water from pooling in the seams.
Stained areas can be treated with baking soda paste. Mix a 3:1 ratio of the Sodium Bicarbonate to water and spread over the stain with a spoon. Leave it to soak for 3-5 minutes before wiping away with a clean damp cloth. Avoid scrubbing the countertop because, although it’s a mild abrasive, the baking soda can damage the finish.
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