Stone has played a central role in interior decorating for centuries, yet we rarely consider the specific needs of stone when it comes to appropriate cleaning and home care. Anyone who has ever taken geology can tell you that every type of stone varies widely in terms of hardness, porosity, and chemical make-up. All of these traits factor into the ways we treat them when they’re incorporated into our homes. To protect the beautiful stone countertops in our homes, let’s look at some of the most common stone types featured in home décor and their care requirements.
Limestone can be a beautiful addition to your home, but its physical properties mean that it needs to be treated with a great deal of care. The quarried, natural stone is more porous than many of its counterparts. It is also high in calcium carbonate. The result is that limestone is very sensitive to acidic materials.
A competent installer will make sure to seal the limestone to protect it from daily wear. Still, you will need to use neutral PH or alkaline cleansers designed specifically for limestone surfaces. We suggest that you let a layer of cleanser sit on the surface without drying. Use a microfiber cloth to clean off the cleaner. Then use warm water and another clean cloth.
Marble is relatively similar to limestone in terms of its composition. It contains a lot of calcium carbonate, making it vulnerable to acidic foods, drinks, and products. It will also require sealing more than once. In fact, lighter marbles may need to be sealed as often as every three to six months. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to seal your own countertops as long as they are properly cleaned first.
As with limestone, you’ll want to look for a non-acidic cleanser. A PH neutral dish soap mixed with water does the trick. Use a gentle cloth to scrub and then follow up with an absorbent towel that you can use to remove all moisture and buff the surface before sealing.
Granite is naturally anti-bacterial and pretty easy to care for once it’s properly sealed. Darker granite, in particular, only have to be sealed about once a year, so they’re a little easier to maintain. However, granite is susceptible to scratching and staining, so cutting boards are a must.
When it comes to cleaning, combine four cups of warm water with a teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spritz the counter and gently scrub down with a microfiber cloth. Then just let them air dry. For tough stains, use a stone poultice designed for the task or mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to create a paste.
However, it is still a good idea to use non-acidic cleansers for lesser stains. But, if there is a mess that takes something heavier, sintered stone can handle it. We also advise considering a water softening system if you have hard water.
Quartz has many of the same requirements as quarried stone countertops. But, as with limestone and concrete, their seals are long-lasting to permanent depending on care. You will want to use a gentle cleanser. They can also be vulnerable to oils, so make sure you have a non-bleach degreaser on hand to remove oils.
Soapstone is one of the few non-porous options on the market, with quartz and concrete also falling into that category. This makes them less likely to stain and generally easier to clean. In fact, you can use pretty much any cleanser, but you should avoid harsh scrubbing tools. If you do see scratches in the surface, then you can buff mineral oil onto the counter to reduce its visibility. If you do apply mineral oil, then switch to milder soaps for future cleaning.