How to remove stains from granite counter

Granite countertops are a luxurious addition to any kitchen or bathroom. However, like any natural stone surface, granite is prone to stains from spills, drips, and daily wear and tear. With the right techniques and supplies, you can safely remove stains from granite countertops and restore their original beauty. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to effectively clean and care for granite surfaces.

remove stains from granite counter

What Causes Stains on Granite?

Before learning how to remove stains, it helps to understand what causes them in the first place. Here are some of the most common culprits of granite stains:

  • Oils and grease – Food prep and cooking often leave oily residues that penetrate the granite. These include vegetable and cooking oils, butter, bacon grease, and more.
  • Beverages – Drinks like wine, coffee, tea, and fruit juices contain pigments and acids that can etch or discolor granite. This is especially true for lighter colored granite.
  • Household cleaners – Chemicals like bleach, oven cleaners, and drain openers can damage sealants and etch granite surfaces.
  • Cosmetics – Makeup, creams, perfumes, and other beauty products can leave oily stains or residue.
  • Ink and dyes – From pens, markers and rubber stamps, indelible inks are hard to remove.
  • Rust – Any metal rust from pans, cans or hardware creates stubborn orange stains when contacting granite.
  • Mold and mildew – Moisture buildup around sinks and fixtures allows mold growth.
  • Hard water – Mineral deposits in tap water can leave cloudy hard water stains.

Knowing which substances cause damage helps you prevent stains in the first place through care and prompt cleanup.

Tips for Preventing Stains on Granite

While granite is very durable, a little care goes a long way in preventing stubborn stains:

  • Wipe up spills, drips and splatters right away before they absorb
  • Use coasters under glasses, bottles and cans
  • Place hot pots and pans on trivets to prevent heat damage
  • Avoid exposing granite to harsh chemicals like oven cleaner
  • Use cutting boards to protect counter surfaces
  • Clean with a granite-safe cleaner and soft cloth regularly
  • Re-seal granite every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer

Supplies for Removing Granite Stains

Having the right stain removal supplies on hand allows you to act quickly when spills happen to prevent permanent damage:

  • Dry soft cloths or paper towels
  • Mild liquid dish detergent
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Acetone or nail polish remover
  • Ammonia
  • Poultice powder cleaner
  • Granite polish and sealant

Using the right combination of these supplies for a given stain is key to safe, effective removal. Always spot test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first. Harsh chemicals like bleach should be avoided.

How to Remove Common Stains from Granite Countertops

Now let’s cover how to remove some of the most pesky stains from your granite surfaces:

Coffee, Tea and Wine Stains

Coffee, tea and red wine contain staining agents that can etch light granite on contact. For fresh stains:

  • Blot immediately with a dry cloth
  • Flush with water to dilute any remaining pigment
  • Mix a poultice paste per label instructions to draw out the stain
  • Apply paste no thicker than 1/4″ and allow to dry completely
  • Remove poultice and rinse several times – repeat if needed

For stubborn or set in stains:

  • Make a baking soda paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water
  • Apply paste to the stain and allow to sit for 24 hours
  • Scrub gently and rinse thoroughly

Oil and Grease Stains

Prevent oil penetration by wiping up kitchen spills and splatters as they happen. For treating existing oil stains:

  • Apply a small amount of acetone, alcohol or ammonia to the stain
  • Let sit for 2-3 minutes
  • Make a baking soda paste with water and use a soft cloth or toothbrush to scrub the area
  • Rinse thoroughly – avoiding spreading the stain

For heavy grease stains, degreasing cleaners help break down and dissolve the oily residue before scrubbing.

Ink, Marker and Pen Stains

Fresh marker or pen stains can be dabbed up immediately with alcohol. For dried stains:

  • Make a poultice paste per directions
  • Apply to stain and cover with plastic wrap
  • Allow paste to dry completely – overnight works best
  • Remove poultice and scrub residues – flush with water
  • Use acetone on tougher stains – rinsing thoroughly after

Avoid using bleach or alkaline cleaners than can react with inks and worsen staining.

Hard Water Stains and Rings

To remove cloudy hard water marks:

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water
  • Apply solution directly to the stains
  • Let sit for 15 minutes – soak paper towels and place on top of stain to keep moist
  • Rinse clean with water – dry and buff with granite polish

Repeat for stubborn buildup. This dissolves mineral deposits so they can be flushed away.

Mold and Mildew Stains

Mold and mildew can grow in moist areas around sinks. Killing mold with bleach mixtures helps remove staining.

Make a spray solution of:

  • 1 part bleach
  • 1 part water

Spray mold stains liberally and let sit 10 minutes. Scrub with a stiff nylon brush and rinse several times with clean water. Allow to fully dry before sealing or using.

Rust Stains

For orange rust stains caused by metal items touching the granite:

  • Make a poultice with cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice
  • Apply to the rust stain and cover with plastic wrap, allow to sit 2-4 hours
  • Remove poultice and rinse – repeat if needed

Citrus solvents help break down rust staining. For light stains, rubbing the area with lemon juice can lift the stain with rinsing and scrubbing.

Etch Marks and Scratches

Light etching or scratches in granite can be minimized by buffing with a granite polish. Use a soft cloth and rub polish in a circular motion concentrating on damaged areas. This fills in and blends scratches.

For deeper scratches or damage, talk to a stone restoration specialist about resurfacing options. Aggressive DIY efforts often worsen scratching.

Oil-based Stains

Oily products like tanning lotion, motor oil, cooking spray and butter can cause stubborn stains:

  • Try hydrogen peroxide, acetone or denatured alcohol applied directly
  • Let sit 2-3 minutes
  • Make a baking soda paste and scrub
  • Rinse thoroughly and repeat if needed

Test solvents first and always avoid leaving them on granite too long to prevent worse staining.

Tips for Safe Granite Stain Removal

Exercise care when attempting do-it-yourself stain removal:

  • Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous spot first
  • Check that products are approved for natural stone
  • Spot clean stains – don’t spread over the whole counter
  • Limit scrubbing pressure to avoid damaging the surface
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like alkaline cleaners, bleach or acidic drain openers
  • Rinse thoroughly after applying any cleaning solutions
  • Reseal granite after intensive cleaning

Read all label instructions carefully. Call in a professional stone restoration service for stains you are unable to identify or safely remove yourself.

Maintaining Granite Countertops After Stain Removal

Once your granite countertops are looking pristine again, be sure to keep them that way:

  • Use trivets and cutting boards to protect surfaces
  • Clean up spills immediately as they occur
  • Rinse granite with clean water daily
  • Use a granite cleaner and soft cloth weekly
  • Re-seal granite every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer
  • Avoid placing hot pans directly on granite

With regular care and by addressing stains quickly, you can keep granite counters in immaculate shape for years.

When to Call a Professional For Granite Stains

For stains that are etched or burned into granite or have penetrated deep into the stone, call a granite restoration pro. Professionals have access to specialized equipment and chemicals for removing severe stains without harming your countertops. This includes:

  • Hydrofluoric acid – Used cautiously, this removes stubborn etch marks and discoloration that household cleaners cannot touch. Professionals have training in handling dangerous chemicals like HF acid.
  • Commercial poultice – More powerful poultice solutions and professional-grade sealants provide extra stain fighting power and protection.
  • Power polishing and honing – Machine buffing by a skilled technician can remove etching and pitting for a rejuvenated surface.
  • Seam repair – Countertop seam separation allows deeper stain penetration. Experts can re-seal and reinforce damaged seams.

For peace of mind, granite professionals provide experience and products that the average homeowner does not. Have them assess extreme stains to determine the most effective solutions without risking harm to your investment.

Granite Stain Removal Products

Having specialty granite cleaners and stain removal products on hand allows you to act quickly:

  • Granite Gold Daily Cleaner Spray – $12.74, streak-free daily granite surface cleaner
  • TriNova Granite Cleaner and Sealer Kit – $19.97, cleans and seals in one easy step
  • Black Diamond Stoneworks Poultice – $17.95, professional poultice powder for deep stain removal
  • Amish Granite and Stone Polish Wax – $16.99, polishing wax that fills scratches and etches
  • Weiman Granite Cleaner and Polish – $10.97, cleans and polishes without leaving residue
  • Magic American Marble Restoration Kit – $24.95, 3-step kit removes etches, scratches and stains
  • Carrara Marble and Granite Pen – $11.99, easily touches up etch marks and scratches

The Takeaway

While granite is very durable, stains happen. By knowing which substances can damage granite and acting promptly, most stains can be removed with household products and gentle scrubbing. For best results:

  • Identify the stain and use the recommended removal method
  • Use specialty poultices and solvents to draw out staining
  • Take care to avoid damaging the surface when scrubbing
  • Rinse thoroughly and repeat as needed
  • Call a professional for unknown or severe stains

With this comprehensive guide, you can keep your granite counters spotless for years of beauty by learning how to safely remove every type of stain.

Sharing Is Caring:

As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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