Your countertops aren’t only an investment purchase; they’re the pièce de résistance of your kitchen. So keeping them looking their best (read: free of unsightly stains) is pretty darn important. We checked in with pros across the industry to bring you the very best tricks for successful countertop stain removal.
Material 101: The oh-so-pretty but softer stone is an easy stain target. So it’s important to seal your countertops to make them more stain-resistant.
How to clean it: “Sealing won’t make your marble 100 percent stain-proof, but it will definitely help,” says April Graves, VP of Aria Stone Gallery. If a spill occurs, immediately blot to sop up the liquid (don’t wipe, which spreads it). Then flush the area with water and mild soap, followed by a gentle, dry wipe. If the stain persists, Graves advises to call in a stone care professional to assess the problem.
Material 101: From an overall maintenance perspective, non-porous, scratch- and stain-resistant quartz is about as good as it gets.
Material 101: Granite is a relatively durable natural stone, especially when sealed.
How to clean it: Most stains can be handled with a warm soapy water rinse. If a heavier stain does occur (like an oil stain), Angie’s List cleaning expert Amanda Bell suggests applying a baking soda paste, which draws out the oil, covering with plastic wrap, then letting it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe up with warm water and a soft cloth. One important note for natural stone surfaces (granite in particular): avoid abrasive cleansers like heavy-duty scrub pads or pumice stones, which can scratch the surface.
Material 101: While naturally non-porous and resistant to staining, some people treat with mineral oil to bring out the stone’s movement or fix scratches, while others leave it alone and allow it to naturally patina over time.
How to clean it: “You can clean stains with almost any multipurpose cleaner, as long as it’s not abrasive (aka scratchy) and has a neutral pH (aka non-acidic, like dish soap),” says Thumbtack cleaning expert Michael Dimopoulos.
Material 101: Most importantly, when it comes to this warm, rustic medium, you need to be thoroughly sealing with mineral oil on a monthly basis to prevent damage.
How to clean it: When properly sealed, light stains are best treated by cleaning immediately with a simple solution of mild soap and water. When it comes to bigger stains, Nantucket-based contractor Edward O’Brien (who handles butcher block constantly) says there’s only one true way to remove a major stain: “sand it out, refinish and reseal.”
Material: Concrete is highly porous and needs to be treated with a concrete sealer to prevent stains, scratches and water absorption.
How to clean it: If a spill occurs, concrete expert Nathaniel Lieb recommends soaking a cotton ball in household bleach, pressing it down on the stain with a solid object (like a heavy glass) and allowing it to sit for five to ten minutes.
Material 101: Comprised of plastic resins, laminate countertops are highly stain-resistant (go ahead, spill the Pinot Noir).
How to clean it: Just wipe up quickly or treat with a baking soda and water paste if residue persists. Laminate’s biggest risk for damage comes from hot objects, which “stain” by burning the surface. The only real fix is preventative measures (using trivets and extreme care). “If damage occurs, most laminate countertops cannot be repaired, only replaced,” says Bell.
Material 101: This industrial-chic metal option is majorly stain-resistant, but the “stainless” moniker is a bit of a stretch.
How to clean it: “It’s critical to clean wet and acidic items off stainless steel quickly,” says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro. “Simple cleaners that are neither very acidic or alkaline (like dish soap) and a microfiber towel, are your best bet.” But, she suggests that if hard water or rust stains do show up, “Bar Keepers Friend is a mild enough abrasive to safely scrub away the stains. Just be sure to scrub with, not against the grain.”
Material 101: Tiles themselves are glazed and generally unreceptive to staining, but the grout between tiles is very susceptible.
How to clean it: “For tile grout stains, products like Black Diamond grout cleaner and a stiff tile brush can work wonders,” says Homer.