Getting Stains out of Granite Counters

Sometimes, regardless of how careful people are with their granite counters, something will spill, unnoticed, and create a stain on the counter. There are ways of treating stains without damaging a counter, but they need to be applied judiciously and as a last possible resort only. 

These are some tips that may prove to be helpful, but, as always, use at your own risk.

First, make sure that the stains are stains and not damaged stone. Damaged stone will need to be fixed by a professional as it cannot be cleaned.  

Tips on keeping granite counters clean are here.

Damaged stone that needs to be professionally repaired can look like corrosion, which is usually caused by acids and can look like water rings or spots that cannot be dried off). This can also be caused by a change in the chemical makeup of the stone.

Quick quiz: are bird droppings 'organic' or 'biological'?

Quick quiz: are bird droppings 'organic' or 'biological'?

To remove stains from granite counters requires a poultice.  A poultice consists of three things: paper towels, talcum powder, and a cleaning agent specially designed to remove the chemical staining the counter.  

Categories of stain:

Organic: (coffee, mustard, tea, etc.)  For an organic stain hydrogen peroxide (30-40% by volume) is needed.

Inorganic: (ink, Sharpie, dye, dirt) For inorganic stains also use hydrogen peroxide (30-40% by volume) unless the stain is ink.  For pen use rubbing alcohol.

Oil: (any cooking oil, butter, margarine, etc).  For oil use pure acetone, but not nail polish remover.  Nail polish remover can sometimes have different ingredients depending on the brand.

Biological: (mold, mildew) For biological stains use bleach at the rate of 1/2 C per gallon (make sure to mix well before using) or MB-9.

Metal: (rust, copper, etc.) For metal stains visit a local hardware store and buy IronOut, a white powdery substance.)

To remove stains it is best to test on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure there are no negative consequences to the granite counter.  

First, mix the poultice:  

create a mixture with the talcum powder and a cleaning agent determined in the stain category area.  The mixture should be thicker than paste, more of a putty consistency. 

Spread this evenly on the stain, ensuring all areas of the stain are covered with the same depth of the poultice.  Use plastic cling wrap to cover the poultice and tape the area to keep it covered for approximately twenty-four hours.

After the poultice has sat, remove the tape and cling wrap.  

Although at this point it may be tempting to see if the mixture worked, do not wipe up the mixture.  Allow the mixture to dry completely.  This will take more time, possibly a few hours to a few days.

When the paste is finally dry, use a plastic scraper to scrape off the residue and buff with a microfiber cloth. Inspect the counter to make sure the stain has dissolved.  Use hot water and a microfiber cloth to wipe the area clean.

If the area has improved, but the stain is not entirely gone, these steps can be repeated.  If the granite is water damaged, do not use these steps.  Water damage, though may seem like it will take awhile, are almost always just temporary.  Once the water evaporates fully from the area the water damage “stain” should be gone.

If the granite is damaged or the stain remover hasn’t worked, call your stone countertop store. Some things are just better taken care of by a professional.