How To Clean & Maintain Countertops: From Corian to Quartz

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The kitchen is the heart of a home, and the countertops are where all the action is: chopping, prepping, plating, snacking, leaning, and, if you're anything like me, even sitting. We break down, by material, how to keep those counters clean and happy for years to come:

MARBLE

  • Martha Stewart advises applying a protective sealer annually, cleaning gently with warm water, and avoiding dusting sprays (like Pledge) and abrasive cleaners.
  • House Beautiful recommends having a marble sealer professionally applied, but if you do it yourself, "You'll know it's sealed properly when water beads and forms droplets on the surface."
  • If you do get stains, Bob Vila says, "Oil stains can be removed by ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, or mineral spirits. And food stains can be lifted with a water-based paste of baking soda and dish soap."
  • Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks wrote a lovely piece about her gorgeous, unsealed marble counters, advising caution when working with saffron and turmeric, but overall advocating a relaxed attitude towards them. "...I'm happy with a bit of etching, subtle discoloration, coffee blush, and all those things that come with a kitchen that has been much loved, and much-used. I want counter tops that tell a story over time." Bonus roasted vegetable orzo recipe!
  • And of course, Faith shares her "one year later" update on living with her marble countertops over on The Kitchn.

GRANITE

  • This Old House advocates applying the intense-sounding "impregnator" (THE IMPREGNATOR) to countertops every two years, and other than that, "We just wipe up a spill—no matter what it is—with a wet sponge right away, and our countertops look great."
  • In the Chicago Tribune, Martha Stewart recommended cleaning granite with a gentle dish soap, wiping spills immediately, and avoiding ammonia, lemon juice, vinegar, other acidic substances, and all abrasive cleaners. And not that you would, but "never cut directly on the stone's surface."
  • The Kitchn already put together an ultra-thorough post on this very topic. Please proceed to How To Clean and Disinfect Granite Countertops for all your granite care needs.

CORIAN

  • Think of Corian as low-maintenance granite: it has, according to Martha Stewart, "a nonporous surface that holds up well against heat and stains, and quartz costs about the same as midrange granite. Plus, granite needs to be sealed a few times per year, while quartz does not."
  • SF Gate goes one step further, stating that it's fine to use ammonia-based cleaners, bleach, and gentle scrubbing cleaning products on Corian.

WOOD/BUTCHER BLOCK

  • If you have beautiful butcher block counters, This Old House advocates using lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and/or wood bleach to treat stains and a quick sanding and re-oiling to heal scratches. Vinegar, however, is to be avoided.
  • Bob Vila prescribes a monthly dose of mineral oil for butcher block counters, or marine oil for "non-butcher block wood counters."

STAINLESS STEEL

The pastry kitchen I used to work in had stainless steel countertops, and I loved them. When I cleaned them (with near-boiling water on a soft cloth) they just felt so clean! When scratches occur— and they will— Bob Vila counsels that "they can be buffed out with an abrasive pad."

QUARTZ

This Old House has nothing but good things to say about quartz countertops, and caring for them sounds easy as pie: they are stain- and scratch- resistant, cleanable with soap and water, and heat-resistant up to 400˚F.

SLATE/SOAPSTONE

Is your kitchen a Carrie Bradshaw-style kitchen that's never seen a home-cooked meal? Then, according to House Beautiful, slate and soapstone are the countertops for you: "They're beautiful too, but require so much maintenance and constant mineral oil treatments, they're not practical. Soapstone has the added problem that it's soft and can chip. I only recommend them if it's a no-cook situation."

Did we miss something? Share your tips in the comments!

(Image credits: Shira's Berkeley Bungalow)