How to Get Stains Out of Granite

Woman cleaning counter top in the kitchen

Many homeowners who desire new countertops tend to choose granite countertops, many of which you can easily seal for better performance. Many reasons exist for this preference.

First, granite is an eco-friendly, affordable material since it’s made from stone. Also, it is resistant to bacteria and dirt. And while it is a porous material, if you seal it correctly, it becomes impervious to most types of stains, such as oil stains, rust stains, grease stains, and hard water stains. You will find it easy to clean since these stains will mostly stay on top of granite surfaces instead of penetrating through the pores of the stone.

In addition, sealed granite is highly resistant to etching, which happens when acids and acidic fluids, such as lemon juice, come into contact with granite kitchen countertops. And they are also heat-resistant and resistant to chipping and scratching. It’s also worth noting that granite looks good and is always attractive to potential home buyers.

However, granite needs regular cleaning to maintain its attractiveness. So, you need to do some daily cleaning to keep dirt from accumulating and tough stains away. The good news is that there are many ways to ensure clean granite countertops. However, you need to use the right strategy, depending on the type of stain.

How to Get Stains Out of Granite

Below are some cleaning tips you can implement to get rid of granite stains.

1. Blot with Paper Towels

When something spills on your granite countertops, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible, especially if your surface has no sealant, and the substance in question is acidic like fruit juice or causes stains quickly like red wine.

So, the first step is to use paper towels. But don’t try to wipe off the spill. Instead, blot the affected area, so the spilled substance does not spread sideways or penetrate the countertop. Once you have gotten rid of most of the spill, you can clean your granite countertop with water and soap.

2. Clean with Warm Water and Soap

If you have an already sealed granite countertop, you can clean it easily with warm water and a gentle detergent or mild soap.

First, get some warm water, pour it into a bowl, and dip a soft cloth into it. Next, apply a bit of mild soap or pour some gentle detergent on the wet cloth and gently wipe the surface of the countertop. Alternatively, make some soapy water and use that for cleaning.

Regularly dip your rag in clean water to prevent the spread of grease or dirt, and apply soap or detergent as needed until the entire surface is cleaned.

When you finish cleaning with soap and water, rinse the soft cloth in clean water and wipe down the countertop again to eliminate soap residues. Then finish off by drying the surface with a clean microfiber cloth to prevent water stains from forming.

3. Sanitize with Isopropyl Alcohol

Generally, daily cleaning with warm water and soap is adequate for granite countertops. However, when you need to disinfect the surfaces and prevent bacteria buildup over time, you can disinfect them with isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless liquid usually found in disinfectants and rubbing alcohol. It is best to use a solution with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol to sanitize your kitchen countertops. Alternatively, you can mix isopropyl alcohol and distilled water in equal parts.

When using isopropyl alcohol, pour some of it into a spray bottle. Then spray it onto the granite surfaces you want to sanitize, wait for three to five minutes, and rinse with water. You can then use a clean microfiber towel to dry the countertops to prevent water stains.

Alternatively, you can create a cleaning solution using half a teaspoon of dish soap or gentle detergent, one and a half cups of warm water, and half a cup of rubbing alcohol. Pour this solution into a spray bottle, spray the dirty granite surfaces and clean with a soft cloth. You can then rinse with water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

4. Remove Stains with Talcum Powder and Diluted Solution of Ammonia

Generally, you should not clean natural stone surfaces with harsh cleaners, such as those containing ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, mainly when a granite sealer has been used.

However, when facing stubborn oily stains on unsealed granite or granite with worn-off sealant, it may be necessary to use some types of chemicals to reclaim your beautiful countertops.

One way to get your gorgeous granite countertops back is by mixing talcum powder and a diluted solution of ammonia to create a paste. Ammonia forms an alkaline solution, making it an excellent option if you need to use a chemical. And you can create the ammonia solution by mixing one cup of ammonia and two gallons of water.

It would be best if you scrubbed the paste gently into the stained area using a soft brush and then rinse the residue. If the stain doesn’t come off, you could try using the paste severally in the same way.

5. Scrape Stains with an Abrasive Scrubber or Razor Blade

Over time, hard water can form tough stains on your granite surfaces, especially around the faucet area. And those stains can be challenging to remove.

If hard water stains are an issue, you need to use an abrasive scrubber or razor blade to scrub them or scrape them off. Once you finish scraping off the stains, use a clean damp cloth to wipe away any residues left behind.

6. Extract Stains with Baking Soda Paste

If you don’t have ammonia, you can use bleach or 12 percent hydrogen peroxide. And you can replace talcum powder with baking soda.

Baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide is an excellent choice when dealing with stubborn stains such as rust stains on lighter surfaces like white granite countertops. The use of a poultice, enables the extraction of stains from deep into the surface pores. It also works well for organic stains caused by fruit juice and tea spills, among other things.

To form the poultice, use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide until it forms a thick paste similar to peanut butter. Then apply distilled water onto the stained area and rub the poultice until it is about half an inch thick. It would be best to use a plastic scraper to spread the paste as evenly as possible.

Next, take a plastic wrap, spread it onto the poultice, and seal the area using tape. Leave it on for an entire day or a couple of days, then remove the wrap and let the paste fully dry. After another day, you can scrape off the poultice, rinse the residue with distilled water, and dry the surface with a soft clean cloth.

If the stains are still present, you can repeat the process five times. Then you can polish the granite afterward.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, you can use half a cup of baking soda and distilled water to make a thick paste. Then rinse with more distilled water and dry with a clean towel.

Alternative poultice materials include cotton balls, diatomaceous earth, talcum powder, kaolin, whiting, and white molding plaster. However, some, such as whiting, are incompatible with acidic cleaners. And others require specialized stain removers, such as diatomaceous earth, which may need a rust stain remover to get rid of rust stains.

7. Clean With Acetone

Acetone is commonly used in nail polish removers and as a paint thinner because it is a strong solvent. So, it comes in handy when you need to get rid of granite stains caused by cosmetics, oils, grease, paints, or inks.

When using acetone, mix warm water and acetone. Then rub the solution gently onto the granite surface with a clean cloth. If the stains refuse to come off, use grade 0000 steel wool.

It is worth noting that acetone works best on dark-colored granite, such as black granite countertops.

8. Use Commercial Granite Cleaners

If you prefer to use professionally-made cleaning materials for your granite countertops, you can purchase suitable cleaning products. However, what you choose will largely depend on the kind of stain you will be removing and whether your countertop is sealed or not. Therefore, ensure you research the available products to get the best option for your needs.

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Granite Countertops

Granite, like many stone countertops, requires care during the cleaning process since it can react to some kinds of chemicals or spills. Below are the dos and don’ts you should pay close attention to ensure you have clean granite countertops that don’t lose their attractiveness.

  • Don’t use harsh chemicals on granite, especially if a sealant is already present.
  • Avoid scouring powders and materials when cleaning your granite surfaces.
  • Wear gloves when handling chemicals during the cleaning process.
  • Select the right kind of natural stain cleaner on your granite and ensure it works effectively on the type of stain you want to remove.
  • Don’t let acidic liquids stay on the surface of your granite countertops for long. Ensure you blot the spills as soon as possible.
  • Avoid acid-based cleaning solutions like vinegar and lemon juice solutions on granite surfaces.
  • When extracting stubborn stains from granite surfaces using harsh chemicals like ammonia, don’t use them directly on the stone while they are undiluted.
  • Clean your granite surfaces regularly to avoid the buildup of dirt and stains on the granite countertops.
  • Under no circumstances should you mix bleach and ammonia. It creates a toxic gas that could be detrimental to your health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Always wipe the surface of your kitchen countertops with a dry cloth after cleaning to prevent water stains.
  • Use coasters to place containers with hot food or liquids onto the surface of the granite countertops.
  • Seal your granite surfaces at least once a year to keep it impervious to most stains and dirt.
  • When your granite surfaces lose their shine due to cleaning or stain removal, you should call a professional to polish them for you.

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, so it should be attractive and clean. It is also one of the rooms that home buyers pay close attention to. And granite countertops can help you make your kitchen a comfortable place to work and eat. In addition, when the time for selling comes, they will come in handy in sealing the deal.

However, your granite surfaces won’t clean themselves. So, you need to take proper care of them by using the correct cleaning method, depending on the stains you are dealing with. If you do, you will enjoy them for a long time, and your home is likely to fetch a higher price when you sell it.

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Brandi Miles, BSW, MS Human Services

Brandi Miles, BSW, MS Human Services is the mother of two adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. Brandi has 20+ years of experience helping people with developmental disabilities.
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