Kitchens are meant to be lived in. And that means stains—in all their messy, drippy, splatter-y glory—are simply bound to happen. Different countertops are more susceptible to different stains, and each material has its own best spot-removal methodology. Read on to learn which stains are most likely to leave their mark on your countertops, and how to make them vanish.
Marble: Salad Dressing, Tomato Sauce, Coffee
Acidic foods like these can leave marks on this porous natural stone, so wipe them up as quickly as possible—and definitely don’t ever use a lemon- or vinegar-based cleaning spray on it. A pH neutral cleaner, such as Granite Gold, is best for daily cleanups. But there’s no need to panic if you don’t catch a spill stat. The Marble Institute of America recommends applying a solution of 12 percent hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia with a clean cloth to remove anything your routine cleaner can’t budge.
Granite: Cooking Oil, Peanut Butter
Granite, like marble, is a porous natural stone. Greasy ingredients can seep into its surface and discolor it, especially if the sealant is starting to wear thin. Your best bet? Acetone. (That’s right, basically nail polish remover.) Mix a few drops of acetone with mild dish soap, such as Dawn Free & Clear, apply it to help draw out the oils. Then wipe it up with a clean cloth.
Quartz: Red Wine
People love quartz because it’s pretty darn stain resistant, but it’s not stainproof. Let dribs and drabs of something especially dark, like a pinot noir, sit for too long, and the liquid can react with the resins that bind this engineered stone to leave a stain behind. This is especially true if you have popular, light-colored quartz countertops. Spray on some diluted bleach (eight parts of water with one part bleach), and wipe it off immediately. You can also try a mildly abrasive cleaning pad, like a damp Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Test it on a less visible area first, then lightly scrub to polish away the darkened area, and wipe away any residue with a clean, damp cloth.
Wood: Food Prep Remnants
Butcher block invites you to chop and dice on its surface—and we love that. But leafy greens, onions, and other vegetables leave traces of their bright colors behind. Thankfully, there’s a fresh (and easy) trick to reset this surface and get it glowing again. Sprinkle any discolorations with salt. Then cut a lemon in half, and rub the area with the cut side. Let the salt and lemon juice sit overnight, then wipe the area with warm soapy water, and let it dry. When it’s fully dry (give it plenty of time), apply a thin layer of food-grade mineral oil, such as Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil, to help prevent future stains and mildew.
Stainless Steel: Water Rings
As the name implies, stainless steel is pretty much impermeable to, well, kitchen life. That’s why it’s a standby in professional and restaurant kitchens. You can throw beets, marinara, red wine, butter, and even hot pans on it, and it will come out shining. However, if you let dirty dishwater or condensation from a glass sit on it, you’ll get a dull ring. Dampen a microfiber cloth, such as Libman Wonderfiber Cloths, in warm, soapy water, and wipe water rings away, always moving in the direction of the grain. Note: Never use a hard-bristle brush on stainless steel, because it can scratch.
Laminate: Scorch Marks
Use a too-thin trivet or forget and set a pan down on your laminate countertop, and it will leave a burn ring. (Something we, unfortunately, know from experience.) It only takes a second for Formica or other laminates to get scorched. If your pan hasn’t caused the laminate to blister, however, you may be able to remove or at least dial down the burn lines with a gentle abrasive cleanser such as good old Bar Keeper’s Friend. Be careful, though; you don’t want to crack the surface. Worst case scenario: Set a cutting board on top, and go on with your life. Kitchens are made to be used, after all.