The Natural Cleaning Habit That’s Ruining Your Granite Countertops

updated Oct 19, 2020
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I’m all for simplifying cleaning routines. Lately I’ve been trying to clean as much as possible with just a microfiber cloth and water. (Remember: Cleaning is different than disinfecting—I’m just talking about visible dirt on not-high-risk surfaces.) There’s definitely a time and a place for tools and methods that make cleaning easier and make your life feel more streamlined.

But it’s important that you don’t use the wrong tools, products, or methods when you clean your home—especially when there’s risk of harm to people or property. There’s one all-purpose “simple cleaning” staple in particular that could be ruining your granite countertops slowly, each time you spray and swipe: white vinegar.

People love vinegar because it’s inexpensive, effective, and can be used in so many applications, from the the laundry room to the kitchen and everywhere in between. Vinegar’s acidity is strong enough to break down dirt but mild enough to be safe around kids, pets, and people with allergies. And it works to combat bacteria and mold on many different surfaces, from glass to linoleum… but it doesn’t work for all surfaces.

Credit: Cat Meschia

Why You Shouldn’t Clean Granite with Vinegar

Vinegar spells trouble for granite countertops (and any other natural stone countertop). The acid in vinegar wears away at the protective sealant that prevents spills from penetrating the stone and causing permanent stains. In addition, over time vinegar can cause etching in the granite itself. This is also true for other acidic cleaners, such as lemon juice or citric acid; the latter is commonly found in products designed to clean metal, tub and tile, and some all-purpose cleaners.

How to Clean Granite Countertops the Safe Way

To clean granite counter tops without harming them, use mild soap and water. If you want to disinfect your counters, wipe with isopropyl alcohol after your cleaning is done. Another option is to use a commercial granite cleaner, such as TriNova Daily Granite Cleaner, Method’s Daily Granite, or Supernatural’s Counter + Granite cleaner (the latter is great if you like the eco-friendly utility of cleaning concentrates).

No matter which route you go for cleaning, buffing with a microfiber cloth afterwards helps make your counters gleam. Maintenance is also important. Periodically sealing your granite counter tops is important in order to prevent your counters from damage and to keep them looking their best.