Granite work surfaces can make any kitchen or bathroom look absolutely spectacular. It can be the difference between the “mass produced” kitchen look and the “designer kitchen” look. It’s the second overall most popular choice for kitchen worktops after quartz which took the number one spot in 2018. However, if you don’t look after granite worktops that refined and luxurious look can start to decline. So ensuring that you have access to the best stain remover for granite is very important.
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What makes granite such a great work surface for kitchens and bathrooms?
The physical properties of granite make it very well suited to kitchen or bathroom worktops or surfaces. It’s natural appearance makes it look amazing and despite it’s popularity over a substantial period of time it never seems to go out of fashion. But in addition to it’s aesthetic properties it’s physical characteristics make it a great choice. Firstly it’s super hard meaning that it’s highly scratch resistant and far superior to synthetic worktops and wooden worktops. Secondly it’s heat resistant which again puts it well ahead of both wood and some synthetic materials. It’s also not damaged by water and won’t expand like wood if it gets wet.
What are the disadvantages of granite as a work surface?
Set against it’s advantages there are however some distinct disadvantages to granite.
Firstly granite worktops are expensive, particularly when compared to the cheaper synthetic alternatives. That means that granite worktops aren’t suitable for all budgets. And of course with the additional expenditure comes the added pressure to keep it looking nice for years to come – keeping it clean, stain free and in good condition.
Secondly, granite is a porous material. That means that spills and liquids can penetrate into it. To avoid staining it needs to be sealed regularly and at least once a year. So, it’s not quite as hardy and care free as you might first assume and it doesn’t have the ultra-low maintenance advantages of some of the cheaper synthetic alternatives. If you don’t get it sealed regularly then it starts becoming vulnerable to staining from liquids such as wine, oil or fruit juices
The final thing that some don’t like about granite worktops is their cold to the touch feel. There are solutions to this such as stick-on warming mats for example.
How to tell if your granite worktop needs resealing?
To avoid staining it’s really important to ensure that you don’t allow the sealing to wear off. On average you need to seal it once a year. It will wear off the fastest in heavily used and wet areas. To check whether it needs resealing locate one of the most vulnerable areas, ensure that it’s completely dry, apply a few drops of water and then leave them for 20 minutes. Then wipe the remaining water off. If there is slight discolouration where the water drops were (a slightly darker colour) then it’s likely that the granite needs resealing.
What types if stain is granite vulnerable to?
If it’s not properly sealed granite is vulnerable to staining by any coloured liquid that makes contact with it’s surface that then gets absorbed. Once it’s adsorbed into the granite itself it becomes much more difficult to clean as wiping the surface is no longer sufficient to remove the stain/discoloration.
(1) Organic stains
One of the worst offenders is red wine as spills are common. In addition, wine that runs down the side of the bottle on pouring or down the side of a glass can go un-noticed and accumulates on surfaces in direct contact with the worktop. Due to intense colour the staining can be quite significant. Other common offenders could include coffee, tea, tomato juice and beetroot.
(2) Oil stains
Although not necessarily coloured, kitchen oils are another common cause of granite staining. In contrast to water stains which are temporary as the water evaporates, oil stains require intervention as the oil does not evaporate.
(3) Biological stains
Here we’re primarily thinking about growth of moulds and mildew that can create a strong black colour. You’re most likely to see this in areas of poorly sealed granite that are constantly wet. Due to it’s porous nature you can get moulds and mildew growing in non-wipeable areas beneath the granite causing discoloration.
(4) Inorganic stains
Here we’re primarily talking about rust. This happens when you leave iron objects on wet areas of worktop for prolonged periods of time. The iron rust and the wetness enables it to get absorbed into the surface of the granite where it accumulates and stays. Rust stains are one of the most difficult to remove stains of all and the stain may be semi-permanent.
(5) Ink stains, food colourants or paint
As with any colored liquid ink, food colourant or even thin paints could get absorbed into the granite due to it’s porous nature. Don’t allow children to be creative with a felt tip on your prized granite worktop. You might live to regret it!
(6) Water stains
Water can penetrate the surface of porous granite and cause discolouration. These stains are however often of a transient nature as, with time, the water evaporates and the natural colours of the granite surface gradually return. The exception however is if you live in a hard water area – even though the water evaporates off it leaves mineral deposits trapped beneath the surface leading to discolouration.
Are there any types of granite stains that can’t be removed?
Stains caused by absorption of colored liquids can be removed by using the right stain remover. However, “etching stains” cannot removed. These are marks caused by exposure of the granite to certain chemicals such as strong acids. This causes a chemical reaction with granite which generally causes the underlying granite to appear lighter. Unfortunately there is no cheap, quick and easy solution to an etching stain as the chemical reaction actually changes the composition of the granite itself. In fact the only way to resolve etching stains to have the worksurface polished. Common causes of etching stains on granite worktops are prolonged exposure to vinegar, lemon juice and soda pop which are all acidic by nature. If you spill any of these onto you work surface then make sure that you mop them up quickly.
What Is The Best All In One Stain Remover for Granite?
Looking for the easy option? Options are surprisingly limited if you are looking for a commercially available granite stain remover. This is primarily due to the fact that different types of stain require a completely different approach. One of the best products on the market is “Stone Care International Stone Stain Remover.” It’s one of the few product that treats all types of granite stain ranging from red wine stains to ink stains to mildew stains. Due to its popularity it is however often difficult to source. You can check availability on Amazon via the link below (it’s often out of stock or unavailable). However. it’s not as powerful as the options that we present in the next section which are specifically tailored to the type of stain. If you’ve got a particularly stubborn granite stain then jump straight to the next section.
What are the other stain removing options for removing stains from granite worktops?
When removing stains from granite it’s very important to remember that different types of stain require a different approach. If you’ve got a water stain you may for example just be able to leave the granite to dry out. Easy! If you’ve got an oil stain then they’re likely to need surfactants (soapy substances) to dissolve the oil and if you’ve got a coloured organic stain you may need to bleach the color. And sometimes, particularly for the most stubborn stains, a single treatment isn’t enough. In which case you may need to make up and apply a poultice and leave it in place for 48 hours.
(1) Removing organic stains from granite worktops
As we covered above, organic stains include stains from coloured natural liquids including red wine, coffee, tea and beetroot. Here, the goal is not just to clean the stain but to bleach the colour. The best bleach to use is hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 12%. Being sure to wear protective gloves, spot clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and a kitchen cloth. Then rinse the area completely with water and dry it off. Hydrogen peroxide is strong enough to discolour dark granite so run a test on a small area that’s out of site first.
If a single treatment with hydrogen peroxide isn’t enough the next step is to make a poultice. To prepare this mix baking soda with 6% hydrogen peroxide. In terms of the proportions of each that you will need your aim is to get the same consistency as peanut butter. Before applying the poultice dampen the surface of the worktop with your hydrogen peroxide. Then apply the poultice thickly and liberally (to a thickness of about half an inch) over an area slightly bigger than the stain. To stop the poultice from drying out cover the treated area with plastic sheeting (saran wrap or similar) that’s been trimmed to size. To make it airtight tape the edges down onto the surface of the granite with sticky tape. At the end of the 48 hours re-dampen the poultice with cold water. Scoop off the poultice with a soft implement such as a plastic spatula and dispose of it. Then rinse it again with cold water, wipe it with kitchen paper and then lave it to dry. On drying you should notice that your granite worktop is now stain free!
(2) Removing oil stains from granite worktops
With oil stains the approach is slightly different to that described above in (1). That’s because oil is already colorless (so we don’t need to bleach it with hydrogen peroxide). What we’re trying to do here is to dissolve the oil that’s causing the stain.
The first thing to try is cleaning the area with soapy water. Soap is a surfactant and it dissolves oil. This is often enough to get the worst of it up. And light staining remaining due to any residual oil will normally fade with time.
if you have a really bad stain then you need to go down the route of making up an acetone poultice. Follow exactly the same steps as outlined in (1) BUT use acetone as the solvent in place of 6% hydrogen peroxide. Be warned that acetone is flammable which makes it a dangerous solvent to use in a kitchen as it has a low flash point. We’d strongly advice against any form of cooking or anything involving heat or a naked flame whilst the poultice is in place.
(3) Removing biological stains from granite worktops
This is one of the toughest stains to remove yourself. If you’ve read around already you may have read some suggestions to treat the area with a solution of bleach. Be careful as this can damage the area. You could try a mould and mildew remover, ideally one which is formulated for use on granite. Be sure to test the product on a small area that’s out of sight first. Alternatively, you might want to think about calling the professionals in for help with resolving this one.
(4) Removing inorganic rust stains from granite worktops
Rust stains are one of the hardest stains of all to remove from granite. The best approach is to prepare an apply a poultice. Follow the steps outlined in (1) but use a commercially available rust remover solution in place of 6% hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to test the poultice on a small area that’s out of sight first to ensure that there’s no damage or discolouration to the worktop.
(5) Removing ink stains, food colourants or paint
The approach is exactly the same as described in (1) for organic stains. See above for further details.
(6) Removing water stains from granite worktops
Normally water stains are very easy to remove. Although, as granite is porous, water can penetrate the surface leading to discolouration of the underlying granite, the stain is short-lived as it disappears as soon as the water dries out. Just leave it for a few days and the stain will “magically” disappear.
Stains caused by exposure to hard water are slightly more difficult to achieve. As the water dries off minerals crystallise out leading to a stain. It’s very tempting here to resort to the use of acidic solvents which is the normal approach to dealing with hard water stains on other materials. However, acidic solvents are an absolute “no no” with granite work tops as they can damage the granite leading to permanent discolouration. Instead, the best approach is once again use of hydrogen peroxide solution – either as a solution or as a poultice. Refer to (1) above for further details on how to prepare it.
Granite worktops are a big investment but create that “top of the range” look to kitchens that help differentiate them from that “mass produced” look that you see from synthetic worktops. Granite worktops are not maintenance free however and they need to be sealed at least once per year to ensure that they stay in tiptop condition. If the sealant is not well maintained then staining can result as granite is a porous material. If your granite work top does get stained it’s not the end of the world as most stains can be removed with appropriate treatment. However, the treatment needs to be selected based on the type of stain as different types of stain require different treatments.