Walk into any kitchen showroom and you’ll see an astounding number of countertop options. Marble, granite, soapstone, wood . . . each has its selling points—and its own cleaning and maintenance needs. That’s why it’s critical to know what you’re signing up for before you buy, says Gus Retsinas of the Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath. “Your countertop material must serve your design, but must be practical, too.” To keep any surface looking good, you’ll want to avoid scratching it and exposing it to heat (trivets are your friends!). Beyond that, heed these expert tips on how to clean countertops based on the material you have in your kitchen.
Distilled White Vinegar
Nonabrasive cleaner (optional)
Spatula or metal pastry scraper
Cleaning: To keep your wood countertops looking great, clean daily with a nonabrasive cleaner or a homemade mix of warm water with a splash of distilled white vinegar. Gently scrape off any food residue with a spatula or a metal pastry scraper. Be sure to wipe the counters after cleaning so they are completely dry.
Stain Removal: To remove stains, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle salt directly onto the stain. Use a lemon half to rub in the salt. Clean off the salt and lemon juice with water and vinegar.
Sealing: Butcher-block and solid-wood countertops should be sealed for protection, since they are susceptible to warping and cracking. There are a variety of options, but cabinetmaker Cliff Spencer recommends going the less toxic route, using a food-grade oil or wax. As scratches and dings occur, just sand down the wood and reapply the protectant.
How to Clean Marble and Granite Countertops
Cleaning: Retsinas likes using a mix of warm water and mild dish soap for everyday cleaning, following up with a microfiber towel to shine up the stone. Avoid abrasive or acidic cleaners, which can strip the sealer and etch the stone.
Stain Removal: For stains on granite or marble countertops, clean with a paste of baking soda and water (for oil-based stains) or hydrogen peroxide (for water-based stains). Apply the paste to the stain, cover with plastic wrap, and tape down the edges. Let sit for a few days (or overnight at the very least), and then rinse off the paste. Repeat the process if the stain isn’t completely gone. Be sure to do a spot test first to make sure the method won’t affect the color or finish of the stone.
Sealing: These surfaces are popular for their tough-as-rocks durability, but they do need to be resealed regularly to protect them from stains. Reseal granite once a year and marble every few months, suggests Lowes manager and materials expert Mike Pitts.
How to Clean Laminate Countertops
Mild household cleaner
Cleaning: Clean the material with a damp, soft cloth and a mild household cleaner, says Scott Dannenfelser, commercial design lead for Formica. Stay away from harsh products with acid or alkali as well as steel wool or scouring pads.
Stain Removal: Make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the stain and let sit for five minutes, then rinse off with a soft cloth. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so don’t scrub. Repeat if necessary.