One of the glorious things about granite countertops is how they shine in the sunlight and their cool, almost velvety surface texture. It’s a little funny (and slightly counterintuitive) to think that granite could feel soft under your fingertips, but that is absolutely the case with granite countertops that have been well cared for. The highly polished stone is smooth in a way that other natural stones can only dream of.
As durable and long-lasting as granite is, most homeowners install it in places that get a lot of use and abuse. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most common locations for gorgeous granite slabs, and they’re also probably the two most popular rooms in the house. Unfortunately, that means that the granite might come into contact with substances that can harm it over time since homeowners live busy lives and might not be able to clean up everything right away.
There aren’t many things that can harm granite (though there are still some do’s and do not’s where granite care is concerned), but without conscientious care, you mind find yourself with granite that has lost its luster. What do you do in those circumstances? Here are four tips for restoring your granite’s shine:
1. Give it a good cleaning.
This is probably the least expensive and time-consuming option on the list, but it yields impressive results most of the time. Sometimes the only problem with granite countertops is that they’re dirty and need a good cleaning. But before you grab for that bottle of granite cleaning spray, you might consider that it could be part of the problem.
Not all commercial granite cleaning products are created equal in how well they keep your kitchen clean. Some cleaners may even have ingredients that can harm your granite or create a waxy buildup that is difficult to remove. As a whole, you should stay away from cleaners that use citrus products or any kind of wax or oil. These ingredients can harm the shine and the quality of the sealant if used over a long period.
There are some top-quality commercial granite cleaners on the market, but they are often not safe for children or pets, so they’re not great for everyday use. You might want to touch base with your granite supplier to see what product they recommend for cleaning granite, and then be sure to follow the instructions exactly.
If you’re not comfortable using a commercial cleaner on a daily basis, start off by using a soft, microfiber cloth and some warm, soapy water. Rub the countertops in a circular motion, and be sure to hit all of the nooks and crannies. When you’re done with the soapy water, rinse with warm water using the same circular motion. After you rinse the surface, use a new, dry microfiber cloth and buff the entire countertop dry. You will be amazed by how much buffing the surface will make a difference in the overall shine of your kitchen and bathroom countertops.
2. Clear away the soap scum.
Soap scum is an unfortunate a part of life, and it can do a nasty number to your bathroom granite countertops and the area around the faucet in your kitchen. If you’ve found yourself with soapy buildup, there are some fairly easy fixes. First, thoroughly clean the whole area using a commercial cleaner or soapy water, and then buff everything dry. This step will help you visual the extent of the soap scum, so you’re not cleaning more than you have to.
Next, use a stone-safe scrubbing pad or scrub brush to rough up the soap scum a little bit. Work by rubbing in small, gentle circles, and be conscious not to scrub too hard. It might peel up in chunks at this point, or it might require you to move on to the next step. If that soap scum is particularly stubborn, use a flat razor blade to gently scrape it away. You need to be extra careful at this stage, so you don’t accidentally scratch the sealant away.
Once you’ve removed the soap scum, use warm, soapy water to clean the countertop again and buff dry.
3. Do preventative maintenance.
The best way to avoid grungy granite countertops is to stay on top of preventative maintenance. Wiping up spills as soon as possible (especially oily or acidic spills), cleaning with soap and water daily, and staying on top of your biannual sealings and polishings will keep your granite looking beautiful with minimal effort.
4. Contact your granite supplier if all else fails.
Sometimes the only thing left to do is contact your granite supplier and get help with refinishing the surface. While some handy homeowners can do this work themselves, it is a little risky, and most granite fabricators recommend a professional.
The refinishing process includes stripping old sealant, grinding down problem areas, and then resealing and polishing the stone. There are some power tools and chemicals involved, so only the handiest of homeowners should attempt to refinish granite themselves.
With the proper care, your granite countertops will stay beautiful for years to come, but sometimes you might find yourself looking at dull countertops even though you’re trying to keep them smooth and shiny. By taking a little extra care and using some elbow grease, you can get your countertops back to their original luster.