When you think about stone countertops, I’d bet dollars to donuts you think of marble, granite and possibly even travertine, but never quarts. It’s understandable, because when people think of quartz, they just envision this plain crystal somehow used in watches and computers for timing, but not something that works as a diverse, textured stone.
After all, we all know that those other stones, especially marble and granite, have quartz as a major ingredient. In fact, the ratio of quartz and some other materials is what makes granite versus quartz or travertine, if we’re simplifying things.
However, you’ve undoubtedly heard of quartzite, and maybe if you hear of quartz countertops, you assume it and quartzite are the same thing. However, quartzite is actually much more common, and isn’t pure quartz but rather a blend of it and silica from sandstone being exposed to significant heat and/or pressure. Quartzite is far more common, found all around the world for the most part.
While they do share some similarities in appearance, and both are diverse materials, caring for quartzite is considerably different from caring for quartz. Taking care of stone is actually more involved than people may initially expect. It’s far easier to take care of various stone countertops than it is for something like wood, tile or Formica, and far more sterile, but the chemical composition and structural integrity of stone materials is significantly different.
It’s, to put it frankly, not completely indestructible. Now, that’s not to say that stone isn’t resilient to the extreme. Granite and quartz countertops are remarkably tough (though you shouldn’t chop things directly on them), they can stand up to severe heat – you can actually set hot pans or pots on a stone countertop without really worrying about damaging them generally.
However, stone is susceptible to certain types of abrasive things, and to certain chemicals, which means you need to immediately clean them when some things spill on them, and be very careful about what kinds of cleaners you use. As tough as quartz can seem – and it is, you have to remember that on a molecular level, it can be dissolved or etched by chemical agents. Repairing these etches can be an onerous task at best, impossible at worst, and if you have to replace stone, it’s very, very costly. Not only that, but matching your existing stone is not guaranteed to be at all possible.
That said, let’s first look at the things you never want to get on your quartz countertops, and things you never want to clean them with. Then, we’ll go over proper care and cleaning/ Quartz is a beautiful stone, a little more affordable than marble, but with more luster than some granites. So, it’s a stone we definitely recommend that you consider, but know how to care for it going in, because no stone is invincible, and no stone is “cheap”. To keep your quartz shining and strong for years to come, just follow this advice and other advice we’re going to provide in the future, and you’ll have a gorgeous kitchen or bathroom for decades to come.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the things you just don’t want to get on your countertops, and need to clean up immediately in the event they should happen. The worst thing to get on your countertops is anything acidic. Citric acid will etch the surface and break down the silica bonds. This is what is most commonly mistaken for a stain – etching from this kind of harsh substance.
Citric acid is common in many forms of fruit, including citrus (obviously), but also things like plums, bananas and especially tomatoes. If you spill any juice or pulp on your countertops, you should very immediately clean it up. Baking soda is a good way to quickly denature acids, so if you’re worried the water will exacerbate the acid’s reaction, adding a non-reactive base like baking soda is a quick solution. However, it should still be immediately cleaned off once you denature it (this isn’t a precise per-atom solution, and a single atom of acid can lead to fracturing or blemishes in the future).
When it comes to cleaning, a lot of cleaning products are safe, but they aren’t all created equally, and some things are abrasive. Be careful with vinegar, as it could also etch your countertops (and it smells putrid, let’s not forget that). Abrasives like comet or other “scrubbing” agents are also a bad idea, as they’ll permanently mess up your gloss and require buffing and polishing if you’re lucky.
Obviously, rough scrubbing pads or steel wool/brillo are a horrible idea as well, producing micro-scratches that will grow over time and also very easily weaken and dull your surfaces at an accelerated rate.
For general cleaning, soap, warm water and a microfiber cloth are really all you need. The great thing about stone is that under normal circumstances, it’s easy to clean without having to be too aggressive with it.
To remove grease, most skin-safe kitchen degreasers work just fine, but high-potency ones with a strong chemical agent are a bad idea. If it needs protective gloves, don’t use it on your countertops. It may not harm them, but it’s not worth the risk.
For just a quick clean, glass surface cleaners (Windex etc.) are also fine, and will help restore the gloss if you have water or soap residue buildup – a common thing that can make countertops appear to be dulled when they’re just not truly “clean”. If you feel an additional need to sterilize your countertop, denatured alcohol is a safe thing to add to your cleaning process as well.
For tougher things like paint, marker or ink, Goo Gone is a safe thing to use as well, being designed to remove bonding agents like this while preserving the surfaces. Goo Gone is great for a lot of situations like this, it’ll take sticker glue off too!
Finally, for deep cleaning, you will need a non-abrasive deep cleaning agent (Clorox for example) in non-abrasive form, with a gentle sponge or soft scrub pad.
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