How to Care for a Granite Counter Top
Chicago maid services are aware of the popularity of granite counter tops, and have come up with a number of methods in order to care for them properly. Over the past few years, granite has surpassed marble as the most popular counter top material. This is because they are beautiful, yet less expensive than marble.
Granite’s physical makeup is a combination of other minerals, including quartz (usually it is at least 20% quartz); this combination of minerals is what gives granite its unique finish. The downside to this is the fact that granite naturally breaks apart over time into many smaller rocks. This mostly happens to chunks and blocks of granite left outside in the elements – not to granite counter tops, but care must still be taken. Granite counter tops are also prone to damage through standard wear and tear. They must be taken care of properly, and need cleaning, routine maintenance, and seasonal maintenance.
In order to properly clean your granite counter top and prevent it from becoming damaged in the process, there are a number of guidelines that you must adhere to, as most standard household cleansers can harm them.
When you clean your counter tops, make sure to use only PH neutral cleaners. The chemicals in standard cleaners, for example those with abrasive or harsh chemicals, can damage not only the finish on your granite countertop, but the granite itself, causing it to begin to break down. If you have any questions about the types of cleansers that you should be using, or want a list of the best brands to look for, asking the company or store that installed your counter tops is a good idea. However, if you want to go beyond this, choosing chemical free cleaning methods, like those that utilize steam or DI water (like what we use at Fresh Tech Maid, a Chicago Maid Service) would be very safe and effective.
You also need to keep in mind that many commercial products do not work as advertised. Even if they claim to be safe for granite counter tops, check the list of ingredients before purchasing or using them. The simplest and least harmful way, besides using DI water, would be to use warm water and mild, phosphate-free, biodegradable liquid dish soap, preferably one that is light-colored and contains no aromatics. (I.E. Look for one that is scent free.)
Above all else, avoid using powdered or acidic cleansers to clean your counter top. Powdered cleansers contain ground up abrasive pumice stone. This can scratch the granite. Acidic cleansers usually have ammonia in them, which can etch into the surface, causing oils to soak through into the unsealed granite. Spilling acidic things like wine, oil, mustard, citrus or chemicals can damage the counter in this way as well, so they must be cleaned up quickly, before they can soak into the surface or damage the gloss.
The most important thing to remember when hunting for the best cleansers to use on your granite counter tops is that you should never follow the “buy and try” method. The simple act of trying out a new cleaning solution may be enough to harm the counter top. Instead, stick with the tried and true cleansers that you know will take care of the germs and grime without causing damage. A great solution is to let the professionals, Chicago Maid Services, to clean them for you.
Because of its physical makeup, granite is somewhat porous. Cleaning solutions, acidic beverages and other liquids can easily be soaked up into the counter top, causing damage. This is why you need to be extremely cautious when choosing cleansers, and have to wipe up spills right after they occur. However, regular maintenance, such as making sure that the finish on the granite is properly sealed, can help as well.
Make sure to check the seal on your counter top on a monthly basis. This can be done with a little tap water and some plastic wrap. To test the seal on a granite counter top, simply place a few drops of water on it, then cover it with plastic wrap. Tape the plastic wrap to the counter in order to prevent evaporation. Wait for ten minutes, ensuring that nothing disturbs the plastic wrap or counter during that time.
Once the ten minutes are up, remove the plastic wrap and examine the area where the drops of water were. If the water has soaked into the granite, there will be darkened spots in that section. In a properly sealed countertop, the water will still be sitting on top of the surface, albeit smashed down thanks to the plastic wrap. Obviously, if the water has soaked in, there counter top will need to be resealed.
There are several things that should be checked for on a seasonal basis to make sure that there your granite counter top is in top condition. These include:
– Looking for cracking and shifting at the seams. This can occur over time, as your counter top settles into place, as well as through everyday wear and tear. Although granite is a hard material and it takes a lot of force to crack it, if there is already a weak spot within the granite and something heavy (like a pot or pan) is dropped onto it, a crack can appear. If you catch these cracks early on, they can be repaired.
– Inspecting for stains and surface damage. The seal check described above will help a great deal, as a counter that is properly sealed will repel stains and prevent most surface damage. However, some of this occurs through everyday use. Once again, finding the stains and damage while they are still at an early stage will help keep them from getting worse.
Following all of the suggestions above will ensure that your granite counter top will last you a very long time and remain in excellent condition. The right cleaning solutions, some regular maintenance and seasonal inspections of the counter top are necessary – otherwise you may find yourself needing an expensive replacement.