Granite is a hard, scratch and stain resistant, material. As such, if you properly paint, finish and seal granite countertops, they can look good for a long time with some care given to cleaning – both on a regular basis and in order to tackle large spills, or stains which may emerge despite your best efforts.
Many people are aware that stone surfaces, including granite, should not be cleaned using lemon juice, vinegar, and similarly acidic cleaning solutions. However, what may be less known is that common household cleaners which are alkaline – including Lysol wipes – are equally bad for wiping granite countertops.
Lysol wipes are great for cleaning and cutting through grease (as advertised), without a doubt.
Not only do Lysol wipes cut through dirt, grease, oil and organic residues quickly and effortlessly, Lysol is known as a cleaning medium that kills 99.9% of the germs it encounters. This is one of the reasons why Lysol wipes became widely used to wipe off surfaces during the COVID-19 infestations.
The main ingredient of liquid Lysol is Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride – which kills germs. Other ingredients include:
The way to evaluate any chemical compound, in terms of whether it is acidic, alkaline or neutral, is examining the pH balance.
This number runs from 0 to 14. A pH level of 7 is balanced and neutral. Below 7 are acidic compounds, while a pH above 7 corresponds to an alkaline compound.
Liquid Lysol has a pH of 10.5, so it veers decidedly to the alkaline side of the spectrum.
Alkalis are bad for granite surfaces, for a number of reasons.
In general, alkaline cleaners are used extensively, given their ability to clean dirt and oily residues without rubbing. While the latter can be a boon to most situations, most common household cleaners that contain acids or alkalis cause damage to stone countertops.
While acidic cleaners are most harmful to marble and limestone (given that they contain calcite), most commonly used household cleaners that contain alkalis – such as ammonia – are harmful to every kind of stone, including granite.
Lysol wipes contain Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride, along with other acidic and alkaline substances, as outlined above. As such, they should not be used for cleaning granite countertops.
Most common household cleaners found at local stores – including bleach, glass cleaners, degreasers and common household cleaners – contain alkalis, acids and other chemicals that degrade the sealant on granite countertops and leave it vulnerable to etching.
Lysol is no different.
If alkaline solutions are used to clean granite countertops, the sealant will not be able to stop the alkalis from leaching through. With prolonged exposure to non-neutral cleaning solutions, the stone underneath gets impacted.
Granite is pockmarked – with dents and fissures that are a natural feature of the rock. When alkaline solutions get to the stone, they tend to create spots or cloudy areas, often called etching. The alkalis sink deep into the pores, creating stains that rise up to the surface.
Etched granite countertops lose the luster and finish of normal looking granite. They can be cleaned with some effort, but its best to avoid getting to that situation in the first place.
Cleaners for daily use on granite surfaces should be pH neutral. Warm water, with or without soap, may be the gentlest way to go, but it may not always work if spills involve oils, organic matters, vinegar, lemon juice or the like.
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) solution is a cleaner that can work on mild spills. If more is needed, consider one of the following:
If you choose one of the above and keep a plentiful supply of paper and soft cloth towels, you should be well set to care for your granite countertops on an ongoing basis.
Daily cleaning and wiping off with a cleaner that is pH balanced – taking care to wipe off with warm water at the last stage. That way, residues will get wiped off the counter and there will be no secondary stains.
Feel free to use Lysol wipes for multiple cleaning needs. However, keep them away from your granite countertops.
Lysol wipes may seem to do the trick in the short term, but as explained above, they will definitely cause etching on the stone surface that will take substantially more effort to fix in the long term.
Invest in a cleaner that is pH neutral, it will solve substantial issues down the line.