6 Steps to Remove Stains from Granite or Marble Countertops

Not all stains are created equal. Even trickier, not all stains are stains!

Before attempting any DIY marble countertop or granite stain removal, determine if the discoloration is actually surface damage. Use of harsh, acidic, or abrasive chemicals and cleaners can dull or etch the shine. When this occurs, no amount of elbow grease, buffing, or store-bought polishes will help. Contact your local expert in marble and countertops for professional repair or re-polishing services.

An Ounce of Prevention

Wipe up spills quickly. Stains can happen within 15 to 30 minutes of contact. Always use non-abrasive, granite-or marble-approved cleansers to keep your countertops looking their best. No matter what, never reseal your counter over existing stains or damaged surfaces. Sealers will not restore shine nor even out discoloration.

Types of Stains & Their Solutions:

  • Organic: Wine, coffee, ketchup… even dirt from potted plants.
    • Solution: Hydrogen Peroxide (30%-40% by volume)
  • Inorganic: Ink, fabric or food dyes, newsprint, Kool-Aid…
    • Solution: For pen ink, use Rubbing Alcohol; Hydrogen Peroxide (30%-40% by volume) for everything else.
  • Oil: Vegetable oil, mineral oils, salad-dressings, butter, and machine or engine oil.
    • Solution: Pure Acetone.

Note: Don’t use nail polish remover! The concentration is wrong for this purpose, and the dyes used for visual presentation can stain your countertop.

  • Biological: Fungus, mold or mildew.
    • Solution: Bleach or mildew-remover.
  • Metal: Iron rust or oxidized copper
    • Solution: Commercial iron-removing powder (sodium hydrosulphate)
  • Water: Tap, mineral, or any variety of fizzy H2O.
    • Solution: Allow to dry naturally. Be patient. The evaporation process may take several hours or days.

How to Use a Poultice on Your Countertops

A poultice is made of two items–First, an absorbent non-reactive material, like paper towels, unbleached flour, talcum powder or baking soda. Second, the appropriate stain-removing chemical.

Test the chemical poultice in an inconspicuous area of the countertop. Please use gloves when handling chemicals, especially pure acetone.

  • Step 1) Mix ingredients. You’re aiming for a thick, spreadable putty. Try a mix of 1 cup dry to 3-6 tablespoons of liquid, adding one tablespoon at a time.
  • Step 2) Start with a clean countertop. Dampen stain with water to assist the chemical in reaching all the way into the stain.
  • Step 3) Spread the putty a half inch around the stain, and a quarter-inch thick. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, and seal the edges with painters’ tape. (Note: Avoid masking tape–it may damage the sealer and create a dull finish when removed.)
  • Step 4) Leave covered for 24 hours before removing the plastic cover. Then, allow the poultice to air-dry completely.
  • Step 5) Once dry, use a plastic scraper to remove the poultice, and discard. Wipe with water to remove any remaining film and allow to dry.
  • Step 6) Repeat Steps 1 through 5 until the stain is completely gone. For stubborn or old stains, it can take several tries. As long as the stain is shrinking between applications, keep at it!

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