Not All Kitchen Countertop Stains Are Equal

Nothing tarnishes the appearance of your kitchen countertops like a stain. If you have marble, granite or other natural stone countertops, the first step in eliminating the stain is determining the type of stain you are dealing with. Different types of stains will require different corrective action and you may have to do some digging to learn the source of your problem.

Finding the Source

Look around the stain for clues. Where it is and what is around it may offer some indication of the source. If the stain is in the bathroom, it may be caused by cosmetics, and if it's in the kitchen, the color of the stain may point you in the right direction. If it’s near a food prep area, it could be an organic stain from food and the shape of the stain may tell you that something was left on the countertop, got wet and created the discoloration.

With a simple water spill on your kitchen countertops cleaning it up immediately will help prevent it from getting any worse. Four simple steps will enable you to quickly and efficiently clean up the spill:

  • Blot the spill, don’t wipe it as that will just make the spot bigger
  • Rinse the area of the spill with warm water and a light detergent, unless it is only plain water
  • Use a soft cloth to dry the area completely
  • If necessary do it all over again

Different Types of Stains

Different stains on kitchen countertops may take some extra work. Oil-based stains such as cooking grease and cosmetics, recognizable by a darker area on the countertop, may have to be chemically dissolved. There are plenty of organic cleaners on the market so you don’t have to use harsh chemicals. However, for really stubborn stains you may need to enlist the help of bleach, (light surfaces only), dish detergent or even mineral spirits.

Organic stains such as those from tobacco, coffee, tea and fruit will appear pink in color and can usually be cleaned up with a mild detergent. Typically once the offending product is removed the stain will disappear. Metal stains will look like rust spots and often take on the shape of the offending item. A can that got wet while sitting on the counter may leave a ring shape of the can. Most rust stains may require the use of a poultice to flush out the stain.

If you spill paint on your countertop it may be cleaned up immediately, but once it dries, it can be carefully, very carefully scraped with a razor blade. You may also need to use paint thinner or heavy paint remover to get to the bottom of the stain and remove all traces of the paint.

Scratches, nicks and etch marks will not disappear with simple liquid cleaning products. With these you will gain the best results using 4-0 steel wool and light buffing the area. If the problem area gives you too much trouble, instead of risking additional damage to your kitchen countertops, contact an experienced stone restoration professional. Be exceptionally careful of the type of material used in removing scratches as it can cause further, possibly permanent damage to your countertop.

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