by Amy Gordon
(last updated August 29, 2016)
For a lot of us, countertop stains are destined to remain forever, simply because it never occurs to us that hard countertop materials like granite and marble can be cleaned at all. However, granite and marble are actually absorbent stones that can soak in all kinds of liquids, from water to oils to fruit juice to gravy. What's more, if you don't clean stained countertops immediately after a spill, you will probably have to work like a beaver to remove the stains once they have hardened and set. However, this article provides you with tips on removing stains from countertops once they have set, so take heart!
The first step in your battle is to prepare a poultice that will remove most stains without causing any damage to the surface of the countertop. Preparing a poultice is not as heavy-duty as it sounds. Mostly, a stack of paper towels that make thick wad will suffice. All you do is dip this wad in whatever liquid you are using to remove the stain. Once you have the poultice ready, here's what you do for different kinds of stains:
Oil stains are the most common stain found on countertops, for obvious reasons. You will often find that oil stains result from the spillage of foods like cream, butter, cooking oils, and salad dressing. A lot of people's first reaction would be to try and rinse the area with water, but water does no good at all, because the stain simply settles in further. The ideal first step is to blot at the stain with clean, dry tissue paper. Then, wipe the area with a clean cloth soaked in ammonia. Next, dip your poultice in acetone and wipe the stain clean.
The other option is to cover the stain with a dry powder like cornstarch that absorbs the oily excess. Repeat the application, if the spill is large, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, scrub the area with a detergent solution and hard brush, or you may give it the ammonia treatment mentioned earlier.
Stains from tea, coffee, or soft-drink spills are also a permanent feature of kitchen countertops. However, these stains are usually treatable if you soak the poultice in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and a little ammonia and gently wipe the affected area clean.
Rust stains can form from metallic utensils or other metallic items left too long in one place. It is better in the case of rust stains to use the commercial rust removers available in hardware stores rather than homemade solutions. However, rust removers usually contain acidic ingredients that may damage the countertop surface, so don't leave the remover standing for any length of time.
Fruit juices and even a few soft drinks will form indelible stains and even damage the surface of the countertop if left standing for long. The best solution is to clean the stain immediately using a clean white cloth or poultice soaked in water. Once the stain sets, you may need to actually re-polish the surface of your counter before it will disappear.
As a general rule, make sure that your stone countertop has a sealed and polished surface that does not allow any stain to settle readily. Before you use a cleaner on the surface, particularly if it is acidic, first try it on an inconspicuous area of the countertop and see if it causes any damage. In any case, follow a regular maintenance schedule to avoid the accumulation of grime and dirt, availing the help of a professional maintenance company if necessary.
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