5 Common Mistakes You’ll Make When You Clean Your Kitchen Counters

published Nov 23, 2020
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Cleaning your counters can have a huge impact on your kitchen. I personally am a huge stickler for keeping the counters perpetually tidy in our house—not only for the sake of the appearance of an organized kitchen, but so we can set things down without getting them dirty, and move around the kitchen easier as we cook and gather.

Cleaning the counters might be something you do multiple times a day without much thought (like me) or something that gets wrapped up in a bigger kitchen cleaning project. But this straightforward job isn’t as foolproof as you might think.

Here are the bad counter cleaning habits you might have and how to remedy them. If you’re inadvertently making any of these common mistakes, adjust your habits to make sure your counters look their very best every time you clean them—and keep them looking good for the long haul.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Using Acidic Cleaners on Natural Stone

As someone who loves to simplify her cleaning routine and the tools and products I use, I understand the appeal of using one or two cleaners for most cleaning jobs. But this can backfire big time when cleaning counters. Using vinegar or any acidic cleaner on natural stone counters, like granite, can dull them over time. (Many all-purpose cleaners include citric acid—check the label!) Instead, stick to plain water and dish soap and buff dry with a microfiber cloth for a high sheen.

If you need to disinfect, stay away from bleach (it’s basic, not acidic, but can have the same dulling effect on your stone counters) and use a solution of at least 60- to 70-percent isopropyl alcohol instead.

Not Sealing Your Stone Regularly

Stone counters are porous and need to be sealed in order to stay protected from water damage and stains. To test whether you need to seal your countertops, drop some water on them. If the water beads up, you’re good. But if the water seeps into the stone, a sealing is in order. It sounds like a big project, but it really isn’t any harder than cleaning your counters. Use a sealing spray, buff it in, and you’re good to go.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Forgetting to Dry Your Counters

Your counters might be technically clean—but still not look the part. If you let your wet counters dry on their own after cleaning them, you’ll be left with unsightly streaks and smudges. To fix this issue, buff your counters dry with a clean, dry cloth after cleaning them. I prefer a microfiber cloth for this task. You’ll be amazed at the gleam created from buffing and this rewarding step will become part of your regular counter-cleaning routine.

Not Cleaning Under Items and Appliances that Stay on Your Counters

It’s tempting to assume that your counters are clean beneath the small appliances, trays, and other items that stay out all the time. But if you always clean around them—and never move them to clean underneath—it could mean that crumbs, spills, and hard water stains remain untouched for long periods of time. Make it a habit, at least weekly, to move items like knife blocks, utensil holders, dish drainers, coffee makers, and stand mixers and clean the counters under them.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Not Letting Your Disinfectant Sit Before Wiping It Away

You only need to disinfect when and where it’s necessary (like high-touch areas, or if someone in your home is sick), but the kitchen is one such place. After handling raw meat or eggs, it’s appropriate to disinfect your tools and surfaces. But sloshing around a disinfecting wipe or spritzing a disinfecting spray and wiping it off immediately won’t get the job done. Check the label of your disinfectant spray and be sure to leave the affected area wet for the designated length of contact time (it’s called “dwell time”) necessary to kill dangerous pathogens. (For example: Clorox Wipes say the surface should stay wet for 4 minutes.) This keeps your counters and your kitchen safe for your household.