10 Things You Should Not Do to Your Kitchen Countertops
There are a lot of options when it comes to kitchen countertops and how to clean them. Here are some things to avoid if you want to keep your countertops in top condition.
Don't Scrub Quartz With Harsh Pads
Quartz, or engineered stone, is a very popular countertop material for a few reasons. It looks great, it's easy to maintain, it can be custom-made in a variety of shapes and sizes, and it's stain resistant. Notably, however, quartz is not scratch resistant. You should avoid cleaning quartz with any sort of harsh cleaning pad, such as a Brillo pad or steel wool. The scratchy surface of that kind of pad make it great for cleaning spills and stains that need a little more "oomph", but they can just as easily scratch and permanently mark up materials like quartz.
Don't Use Knives on Laminate
One of the main draws of butcher-block countertops is how any part of the surface can be used as a de-facto cutting board. If you've got laminate countertops you might be tempted to treat them the same way, but you shouldn't. The sharpened blade of a kitchen knife will do much more damage to a laminate surface than it will butcher block, leaving your previously spiffy countertop marred with slice marks. Grab a cutting board instead.
Avoid Bleach When Cleaning Laminate
Bleach, when used properly, can be a very effective cleaning tool. But that doesn't mean it can or should be used in every situation. Bleach should never be used on laminate countertops because it will effectively do too good of a job at "cleaning" the material, leaving behind a faded, discolored countertop.
Don't Store Cleaning Supplies on Your Countertops
Your countertop might be a convenient place to store everything you need to keep your kitchen looking spiffy, but you're better off keeping that stuff under the sink. According to every doctor ever and common sense, the chemicals commonly found in cleaning products and food should not be mixed. If you store your cleaning products on the counter you run the risk that a leaky container could lead to contaminated food. Stay on the safe side and store your potentially toxic cleaners far away from the place you prepare food.
Don't Use Too Much Water on Laminate (Especially Near the Seams)
Instead of using harsh cleaners like bleach on laminate, a good alternative is to use a mild detergent and then rinse that off the countertop with water. Be careful not to use too much water, though, especially when you get close to the seams. If water gets under the laminate it can swell and crack, and the seams are the easiest entry point. Here's more on how to clean laminate countertops.
Don't Use Acidic Cleaners on Granite
Granite is another very popular option for countertops. It's a hard, durable material with a sleek look, but it's also very porous. To keep that from being a problem granite countertops are carefully sealed, and as long as that seal is maintained and cared for the granite should stay in top condition. But acidic cleaners like lime, lemon and vinegar can damage and wear away at the seal, which means that any attempts to clean with these materials will ultimately do more harm than good.
Don't Worry About "Specialty Cleaners" for Granite
There are a lot of specialty formulated cleaning products made specifically for cleaning granite. Turns out, most of those aren't really necessary. All you really need to clean granite regularly is dish soap and a soft cloth. Another cleaning mixture that works well on granite is a 50:50 blend of water and isopropyl alcohol; just make sure you fully rinse off your countertops when you're done.
Don't Let Vinegar Sit Too Long on Butcher Block
Undiluted vinegar works great for cleaning butcher block countertops. Just don't let the vinegar sit on the surface for too long. Pooled up vinegar will start to erode and eat away at the wood glue holding your counter together. Vinegar also works great for cleaning gunk off of outdoor tools.
Don't Leaves Dishes to Dry on Wood Countertops
One of the downsides of using wooden countertops as a cutting board is that it will eventually wear down the seal on the countertop. If that seal isn't at full strength, it's much easier for water to seep through and create mold spots. If you are in the habit of drying dishes by laying them out on a kitchen towel across your counter and your countertop's seal is weak, the moisture from the towel (which is already a huge source of germs in the kitchen) could pretty quickly accelerate mold growth. Instead of using a towel, use a drying rack- here are our favorites.
Don't Scrub Tiles With the Same Brush You Clean Grout With
Ceramic tile countertops remain a popular alternative because they're inexpensive, easy to clean, and experienced DIYers can install them without professional help. Just make sure that when you are cleaning ceramic tile you use a different brush on the grout than you do with the tiles themselves. The brush you clean grout with will have stiff bristles that could easily scratch up the shiny surface of the tile.