Isn’t that spread of new granite in your kitchen or bathroom just wonderful? You always wanted granite surfaces and now you have them. No more cleaning and scrubbing that linoleum or tile. After all, granite lasts forever, right? They make mountains out of it. What could go wrong?
Well, not a whole lot should go wrong, provided you take a little care to maintain that new granite surface. It’s not a terribly difficult job, but it’s an important one.
People choose granite for countertops and vanity tops because it’s beautiful and durable. It’s not as porous as marble so it tends to require less caution and less maintenance. It’s not as likely as a lot of other surfaces to absorb spills, stains or oils. But that doesn’t been it’s invulnerable.
You probably spent a lot of time picking out the piece of granite that was perfect for your kitchen or bathroom and a lot of money to buy it and have it cut and installed. So it’s certainly worth putting just a little time and money into making sure it retains its beauty and its durability for as long as you own it.
Granite countertops are typically sealed and made bacteria-resistant, but they still require regular cleaning to keep that special granite shine. You can use soap and water or isopropyl alcohol and water, but it’s worthwhile to spend just a few dollars and get a tool that’s designed for the job.
There are a lot of granite care products at your local or online home store, and the names and labels are similar and can be confusing. However, there are really only three basic types of granite care products:
- Cleaners take dirt, grime, and stains off the surfaces.
- Polishers, also called conditioners, restore the shine and luster of dulled granite by laying down a thin layer. A good polisher can bring out the fading color of an older surface.
- Sealers soak into the granite and form a bond that keeps grime, oil, and stains from working their way in.
Cleaners can be used regularly and some are meant to be employed as often as daily. Polishers and sealers are needed less frequently.
What makes your decision a little trickier is that there are “combo” products. These both clean and polish or both clean and seal or do all three. Some of these yields very good results. However, using a combination product with a sealer won’t give you the level of protection that a standalone sealer will.
If you want the best possible outcome, you’ll want three separate products. Another option is to use just a cleaner and polisher and have your granite professional resealed every 2-4 years.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use one of the combinations. It can be easier to have fewer bottles on the shelf, and easier to remember what to do with a single product.
Another tip: no matter how you clean your granite, don’t let spills sit. Wipe them up right away. While granite isn’t as porous as some other surfaces, liquids can stain and even work their way into the pores if you don’t attend to them.
Following is a list of the products you can use to keep your granite in tip-top shape. You’ll notice that most are free of toxins and are safe to use on a kitchen countertop. In addition, there are several “green” products suitable for those who are concerned about environmental impact.
These are the products that are made strictly for keeping the granite clean, as opposed to polishing and sealing. Several cleaners in this group are environmentally friendly. These generally fall into the category of gentle but effective and are among the safest for your granite surface.
HAUS Naturals Granite Cleaner
We love all-natural cleaners and our favorite natural cleaning brand is HAUS Naturals, which as luck would have it, their line includes an all-natural, biodegradable granite cleaner. Not only does it clean granite easily and quickly, but it smells great.
Granite Gold Daily Cleaner
Granite Gold products are manufactured by a third-generation family that specializes in stone care. Their cleaner is non-acidic, non-toxic, pH balanced and biodegradable, and it has no ammonia or phosphates. If you’ve been using a generic cleaner, step up to something like this. It’s formulated not to streak, has a citrus scent and is safe for food preparation surfaces.
Black Diamond Granite Cleaner
Black Diamond’s cleaner is non-streak, hypoallergenic, and carries a neutral pH. Just spray if and wipe it to get rid of food, oil, grease, dirt and fingerprints. Okay for surfaces that will be used for food. Also can be used on stone, marble, quartz, tile and travertine.
Stone Care International Granite Cleaner
This product is gentle and effective and easy to spray on. It’s pH balanced and is good for water spots, grease, and grime. There have mixed reports on streakiness. It’s safe for a variety of other surfaces such as quartz, marble, travertine, tile, slate, and limestone.
Rock Doctor Granite Cleaner
The manufacturer recommends this product for weekly usage. It’s formulated specifically for granite and stone, so it’s non-abrasive and will remove stains and dirt without damaging sealer. It has a mild, fresh scent. Rock Doctor has a suite of three products: a cleaner, a polisher, and a sealer.
Method Daily Granite Cleaner
This is an environmentally friendly plant-based product. Method Daily has gone the extra mile in green manufacture. The cleaner has an animal-friendly certification and the bottle is even 100% recyclable. It has a nice apple smell. This product is great for routine cleaning but may not do the trick for more serious stains. A two cloth process is recommended with one pass for cleaning and a second for buffing.
Better Life Granite and Stone Cleaner
Another green cleaner with a chemical-free ingredient list: no alkylphenol, petroleum, or volatile organic compounds. It smells nice with a pomegranate grapefruit flavor. (A pomegranate granite cleaner! Did they choose that flavor because it’s so much fun to say it?) It’s excellent for minor scuffs and scum but you may need additional steps to tackle heavier jobs. Mixed reports on whether or not it streaks.
Seventh Generation Granite & Stone Cleaner
Another of the several choices you have if you prefer an environmentally friendly granite cleaner. It’s plant-based, non-toxic, free of phosphates, and biodegradable. Like more of these cleaning products, it’s safe for food preparation surfaces. It’s scented with natural oils of orange and mandarin. Like the other green products, it may be ineffective for heavier staining. Some consumers have experienced filming and streaking but others have not.
These are the products that are made to be used as a supplement to a cleaner to bring out the beauty of your granite.
Granite Gold Polish Spray
Just spray and wipe your already cleaned surface to reclaim the shine and luster of the granite countertop. Suitable also for quartz, Corian, marble and other natural stones. It’s non-toxic, pH balanced and biodegradable, and contains no ammonia or phosphates, so it’s safe for food surfaces.
Rock Doctor Granite Polish
For bringing out the natural color of granite, quartz, Corian, marble, and other stone surfaces. While Rock Doctor has a separate sealing product, this one does leave a water resistant coating that lessens the impact of glass rings and spills. (Still wipe them up as soon as you can!) The emollients and carnauba wax fill in some of the surface imperfections. It’s non-abrasive and non-acidic.
These products are made to be used in addition to a cleaner (and a polisher, if you employ one). Unlike the polishers, which act on the surface, these create a bond with the stone that keeps stains and spills at the surface.
Trinova Granite Sealer & Protecterant
Trinova’s product contains polymers that penetrate the porousness of a granite surface and establish a protective bonding. It blocks stains so they can’t seep in and become permanent. It forms a layer on top of as well as within the granite to keep water, spills, and other residues up where they can’t do damage. This sealer is neutral pH, non-toxic, and contains no bleach or alcohol.
Rock Doctor Granite Sealer
The third in Rock Doctor’s line of granite treatment products. It penetrates the granite (or other stone surfaces such as marble) to form a protective bonded seal on top and within. The sealer is water-based and safe for the stone. The manufacturer recommends using it every 12-18 months.
2-in-1 Cleaners & Polishers
There are quite a few products that do both the job of a cleaner and a polisher, removing dirt and grime from the surface as well as restoring beauty and luster. While there can be an advantage to a product that specializes in one function, some of the best-rated cleaners act as polishers as well.
Weiman Granite & Stone Daily Clean & Shine
This product is high on just about everybody’s list and is among the most popular with consumers. It’s pH balanced and it’s specifically designed to bring new life to dull and faded surfaces. When you spray it on it not only cleans but also creates a protective polish layer. It has a mild scent and leaves a shiny, glossy finish. It claims to remove scratches and users have had some success taking care of smaller ones.
Granite Gold Clean & Shine
This is a spray and wipe product that’s good for granite, marble, and other stone surfaces as well as Corian and quartz. It’s non-toxic, pH balanced and biodegradable, and contains no phosphates or ammonia, so it’s okay to use on food preparation countertops. It not only polishes but does a creditable job of removing stains in its role as a cleaner.
Trinova Granite Cleaner and Polish for Daily Use
This cleans and polishes all kinds of stone and quartz and is safe for daily use. It has a pleasant smell and lays down a protective shine without streaking, stickiness, residue, or film. It’s not a deep cleaner but is more suited to regular and frequent maintenance.
Sprayway Marble & Granite Cleaner
The Sprayway product works a little differently. It comes in an aerosol bottle and sprays a cleaner that has a foaming action. You let the cleaner foam and penetrate. It’s easy to use but doesn’t have a great smell. It has performed well in making a granite surface with dulled areas more uniformly shiny, but it may not step up to heavy stains.
Goddard’s Granite Cleaner & Polish
Another spray and wipe product. It can be a little thicker and waxier than other cleaners and polisher so you may have to buff it out. It’s food surface safe and is okay for granite, marble, and Corian. It removes dirt and grime and puts down a seal but is unlikely to smooth out or fill in any scratches you might have on your surface.
Therapy Granite Cleaner & Polish
Use this on granite, quartz, travertine, marble, slate, and terrazzo. Its ingredients are non-toxic and it claims to dissolve grime, oil, dirt, and grease in seconds, then leaves a protective coat of polish.
2-in-1 Cleaners & Sealers
While there are several products that both seal and polish, 2-1 cleaners that clean and seal are less common.
Black Diamond Granite Plus
This 2-in-1 product claims to be suitable for everyday use, which is an unusual way to use a sealer. It sprays on and wipes off and is water-based, pH neutral, and safe for food surfaces. You spray it on and work the surface until it’s dry – no need to rinse. It claims to be good against wine, coffee, oil, peanut butter, and children. It lacks the intense bonding properties of standalone sealers but provides a decent level of protection between the uses of a more serious sealer.
3-in-1 Cleaners, Polishers & Sealers
There are a few cleaners that claim to do it all. And they do, to some degree. You can save yourself from the hassle of remembering which granite product to use and when and still get decent cleaning, shine, and protection.
Stone Tech Revitalizer, Cleaner & Protector
Spray and wipe the Stone Tech product on granite, marble, travertine, limestone, slate and other stones. It has a cucumber scent. It’s water-based, antibacterial and biodegradable and is designed to protect from mold or mildew. While it’s unlikely to polish as well as a standalone polisher or seal as well as a dedicated sealer, it does a reasonable job on all three tasks.
Supreme Surface Granite, Quartz & Marble Treatment
This contains something the manufacturer calls ioSeal, which is designed to ionically bond to your surface. The result is touted to fend off not just water and spills but also UV light that can cause fading. However, the ioSeal bond is not as penetrating as other bonding seals. It has a pleasant enough scent and is pH balanced and free from alcohol, ammonia, and harsh chemicals.
409 Stone & Steel Cleaner
I’ve included this one because the name is well known and it lists granite as one of the things it cleans. It also claims to clean acrylic, brick, Formica, fiberglass, plastic, vinyl, and wood. Really? I don’t think I’ll be using this on my granite surfaces.
I’ve been washing my countertop without a cleaner. Is that okay?
You won’t get the results of the best commercial products, but you can do a reasonable job of cleaning it with items you have around the house. Use soap and water or a 50-50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water. Don’t use any abrasives; they can scratch and mar. For stains, you can try a little baking soda mixed with water into a paste, and wipe it off with a soft water cloth. If necessary leave the paste to sit for a day or two. Also, you can sometimes restore your shine by wiping on cooking oil and buffing it off.
Are there products I should avoid using on granite?
Here are the “deadly seven” you should never use: vinegar, grout cleaner, bath tile cleaner, citrus cleaner, or any cleaner with orange or lemon, hydrogen peroxide, disinfectants. (Many of the products listed above are citrus-scented, but they don’t contain actual citrus.) Also, avoid Windex or bleach. Many of these no-nos can dull the luster, scratch the surface and break down the sealant. Don’t use anything abrasive.
A lot of products talk about their pH. Why is this important?
Any substance that is acidic (low pH) or alkaline (high pH) has the potential to weaken and dissolve the stone. Many products say they’re non-acidic, which is important, but not good enough. They have to be pH neutral or balanced pH to be safe to use on granite.
Are there things that granite cleaners simply can’t do?
There’s no way to remove hard water spots or mineral deposits from granite. To do that would require a product that is not pH balanced and could scratch or etch the stone.