Granite and marble countertops are simply gorgeous. Unfortunately, they are so susceptible to staining as they soak in liquids such as fruit juices, tea, coffee, olive oils, vinegar, ketchup, and BBQ sauce, among so many others. Even sitting water can leave their mark. Undeniably, the best course of action is to wipe the spills up the moment they happen. But, what happens when the stain has already set in? Here are some DIY solutions, as well as poultice recipes, alongside a handy Eco-friendly recipe that you can use for everyday cleaning, to help tackle almost any stain on your beautiful granite or marble countertops (or floors).
REMEDIES & DIY SOLUTIONS
1. Rubbing Alcohol Spray
1/8 cup of rubbing alcohol
Spray bottle (16 oz)
Liquid dish detergent
Pour the rubbing alcohol into the spray bottle and add just a couple drops of the liquid soap or dish detergent. Fill the bottle with water and shake well. Spray the affected area with the solution, wait a few minutes, and wash.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide Pad
A wad of cotton gauze
Fold a wad of the gauze to the size of the stained area. Saturate the gauze with hydrogen peroxide and make sure you squeeze out any excess liquid. Apply the wet gauze to the stain and cover it with plastic wrap. It should be sealed well so tape around the plastic wrap (use painter’s tape – see below). Add some weight on top of the pad (i.e. a saucer) to apply pressure, and leave on for a full day (24hours). If necessary, reapply.
Note: Test a small area before you apply this solution to dark colored stone as it might lighten the color.
3. Corn Starch Remedy
Spray the stained area with distilled water and then sprinkle cornstarch over it. Be generous as we need to cover the affected area with a thick layer of cornstarch. Let it sit for at least 24 hours and wipe up. If necessary, repeat.
Now, if your granite or marble countertop has grease splatters, try to sprinkle the area with cornstarch immediately and leave it for 15-20 minutes. Wash the surface with a solution of water and mild soap. Normally, the cornstarch will have managed to lift the grease stain in that small amount of time.
1. Baking Soda Poultice
Try to lift as much of the stain as possible. So, blot the area and then spray it with water. Make a paste from water and baking soda (should have the consistency of cream) and cover the stain with the paste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for at least 24 hours. You will notice that the paste will eventually dry as it pulls up the stain (or much of it). Remove the paste and wash with water and mild soap. For persistent stains, repeat.
2. Liquid Soap & Flour Poultice
1 cup unbleached flour
Hydrogen peroxide or
3 tablespoons of gentle dishwashing liquid (no bleach) or
Household bleach (depending on the type of stain – see below).
For food stains: Peroxide
For cooking oils: Dishwashing liquid (it breaks up the oil)
For biological stains (i.e. fungus, mildew, mold): Household bleach, which bleaches only the stain and not the stone.
For rust: Sodium hydrosulfite (you’ll find it in over-the-counter rust removers).
1. Mix the hydrogen peroxide with the flour to create a poultice. Ideally, it should have the consistency of a creamy peanut butter, experts say. If you want to remove cooking oils, mix the flour and dishwashing soap and then add enough water so that it gets the consistency of a sour cream.
2. Apply the poultice. It will feel much like icing a cake. Use a putty knife (plastic) and cover the stain with a thick quarter-inch layer of the paste. Make sure you apply paste slightly beyond the edges of the stain by ¼”- 1 inch. For darker and older stains, leave the poultice for 24 hours. However, the paste will lift up a fresh stain in less than 10 hours. Please note, though, that for old (over a day old) and stubborn stains, you will need to reapply.
3. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and cover the wet poultice. By doing so, you slow the drying process and allow the poultice’s active materials to act for longer. Tape the edges to the countertop with painter’s tape. It’s important to use painter’s tape instead of regular masking tape to avoid dullness of the stone surface. The latter is too sticky, and you may end up removing the sealer, too, when you pull it up. Let air circulate around the paste (poke some holes in the wrap with a toothpick) and let it dry. Once dry, remove the tape and plastic. If you want to accelerate the drying process, you can sprinkle the area with some dried poultice.
4. Lift the poultice over. To do so, use a putty knife to scrape any remains off the counter. Gradually, you will see the result. Wipe with a dry towel and you will see that the stain has been removed. If you notice a ring around the area you have just cleaned, don’t panic. It’s not that you have caused a new stain to appear. It’s just residual moisture and will disappear in a few weeks.
Now, although the stain is lifted, your granite or marble countertop will need polishing and sealing to maintain its gorgeous looks and protect it from getting stained again. Here’s how to do it.
Polishing the Surface
Smooth the surface with the help of marble-polishing powder and a polishing tool. This is particularly helpful if the affected area has been etched by an acidic stain. Spread some gritty polishing powder over the countertop, splash on some water (one tablespoon will do), attach a polyester polishing pad to a Velcro drive plate and work the powder over the stone in small circular motions. When you feel that you get zero resistance, wipe the surface with a dry towel and see how smooth the area has become (glide your hand over it). Next comes sealing the surface because the polisher and poultice remove the sealer so you must recoat the stone.
For limestone and marble: Mix oxalic acid and aluminum oxide to make an abrasive powder.
For granite: Oxide Powder
Sealing the Surface
There are 2 different ways to do this: (1) with a topical sealer or a (2) penetrating sealer. The topical sealer, which is a paste wax coating, protects soft stones such as limestone and marble from etching caused by ingredients we all have in our kitchens (i.e. juice). Just buff the coating on and off.
Stones that don’t need that protection simply because they don’t react with acids, such as granite, will be better treated with a penetrating sealer that soaks into the stone and provides the necessary protection from stains. Also, sealing granite with penetrating sealer makes it more tolerant to everyday-use wear because the sealer doesn’t form a surface coating. To apply it, pour it onto the countertop (a shallow puddle is great) and leave for 10-15 minutes. Then buff the area with a lamb’s wool pad and refrain from using the counter for at least 6 hours.
For marble tops, you may use both types. Experts recommend we reapply sealers once every year. That way, we can also prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
Note: Before you apply a poultice on a granite or marble countertop, first test it on an inconspicuous area and then apply it on the affected area. With the use of the wrong chemical, some stains may turn from yellow to deep purple.
GREEN SOLUTION FOR EVERYDAY CLEANING
½ cup distilled white vinegar
Spray bottle (32 ounces)
2 cups water
¾ cup hydrogen peroxide
1 teaspoon pure castile soap
20 drops of lavender essential oil (or lemongrass)
20 drops of tea tree oil
Mix the ingredients in the spray bottle and spray to clean ceramic tile, acrylic, granite, marble, and wood surfaces.
Note: Professionals working in the stone industry mention that there are many misconceptions in regards what can and cannot be used on stone surfaces. They say that they only stones that are susceptible to acidic stains (i.e. vinegar) are calcium-based ones, such as travertine and limestone, as well as many marbles. Granite, on the other hand, is not a calcium-based stone (very few exceptions here), hence is not affected by normal household acids. They even encourage us to test vinegar in an inconspicuous area.
The faster you wipe up a spill and blot it, the easier it will be to remove it.
When you apply a treatment, do so gradually and not in one go. Examine the stain. Is the mark reduced or lighter? If yes, then, the treatment works. So, keep applying until it has disappeared completely.
Do you know any stain-removing remedies or DIY solutions that do wonders? How do you treat stains on your countertops? Let us know!