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Advice on Removing Stains from Granite Countertops E-mail

This article offers useful advice for those of you who have experienced difficulties in removing stains from granite countertops.

Granite counters withstand high temperatures and therefore contact with kitchen vessels or hot liquids will not affect the stone, if it is properly treated. By sealing natural rocks with certain substances they become waterproof and almost nothing can stain the. However, if a domestic accident happens...

The first and most important rule: clean the stain as soon as it appears.

Natural stone is more porous than synthetic material, so the substances which may create spots should be removed before they penetrate the leaf surface. It's always handy to have a clean, soft and absorbent cloth with which to clean the surface as soon as it becomes dirty. If the stain has already been formed on the surface of your countertop, you should clean it as soon as possible because the older the stain is, the harder it is to remove it. Removing stains from a granite countertop is a simple three-step process:

1. Identifying the nature of the stain

Each type of stain is removed using different substances, so itís important to determine the nature of the staining agent. One possibility is to divide the stains in the following five categories: organic(e.g. sodas, tea, coffee, mustard, etc.), inorganic (e.g. ink, dirt, color dies etc.), oily (e.g butter, cooking oil, motor oil, etc.), metal stains (e.g. rust) and biological stains (e.g. mildew, must).

2. Cleaning the stain

The general guideline is to first clean the granite countertop with a neutral solution or a mixture of soap and hot water and then wipe it with a clean, soft and absorbent cloth. Never use acid detergents, abrasives or scouring powder sink.

A very efficient stain removal method is poulticing, which aims at re-absorbing the stain out of the stone. A poultice consists of an absorbing material, which is usually talc powder or a paper-towel, and a chemical agent which is chosen accordingly to the type of stain. The most suitable chemical agents for inorganic and organic stains are hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, for oily spots it's acetone, for metal stains is white powder, while in the case of biological stains you can use a regular bleach. After youíve made your choice regarding the chemical agent, you can proceed with preparing the poultice. This is done by mixing the absorbing material and the chemical using in a bowl, until a thin enough paste is obtained. You then apply a thick enough layer of paste (min ľ") on the stained area, cover it with a plastic wrap and leave it like this for 24 hours. After removing the plastic wrap, leave the poultice on the stain until it dries out for completely (it might even take a couple of days!). When this is done you must scrape away the paste with a plastic utensil and wipe away what remains with a paper-towel or cloth. More information about the poulticing method can be found here.

When the surface of the granite countertop is glossy, following a waxing treatment or coating, whitish spots are can be formed by pouring substances that contain alcohol or by putting hot objects on the counter. These spots can be cleaned using a paste of cigarette ashes mixed with cooking oil. This paste is put on the surface to be cleaned and rub with a soft cloth on small portions, by pressing a finger in circular movements until the whitish stain disappears.

3. Stain prevention and maintenance

Routine washing with mild soap and water and wiping with a soft, absorbent cloth is generally all that is required for routine maintenance of granite countertops. However, it is recommended to occasionally treat the leaf surface with protective products such as special wax which can be found in trade. It is important to know that, if unprotected, natural rocks can absorb certain liquids, like oil for example, which can cause dark spots or discoloration. Always remove any acid solution (like lemon juice, coke, vinegar, wine, ketchup, etc.) immediately, or it will otherwise scratch or affect the brightness of the stoneís surface.

Do not place hot items directly on the surface of the granite counter, always use special stands or mats (made of cloth, plant material or ceramic) under porcelain, silver, ceramics or hot dishes. Use cup holders, especially for those drinks that contain alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will scratch the brightness of countertopís surface. Like any solid surfaces, granite can be harmed by powerful hits. Due to their crystalline structure, granite surfaces can chip if they are hit with sharp or hard objects.

When buying a granite countertop, it is advisable to ask the manufacturer about all aspects regarding maintenance and which products are recommended to be used for cleaning that specific countertop.

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