Can You Use Vinegar To Clean Granite Countertops

Date: April 25, 2021
Author: Jon Smith
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It is normally easy to remove stains on granite, regardless of whether the stains arise from organic, oil residues, paint, or metal sources.

However, the overall structure of the stone, as well as the way a granite countertop is sealed and finished, make certain modes of cleaning a big no-no. Vinegar, with its acidic content, is very high on the list of materials not to use while cleaning granite countertops.

Why is Vinegar Bad for Granite?

The main ingredient of vinegar, apart from trace minerals and water, is acetic acid (CH₃COOH). Typically, vinegar solutions will have between 5 to 8 percent acetic acid by volume.

Types of Cleaning Solutions with Vinegar

Historically, vinegar has been known to be a great cleaning material, a true and trusted means of tackling especially tough stains. There are literally a dozen ways to use white distilled vinegar as part of a cleaning solution, including but not limited to:

  • 100% undiluted vinegar
  • Vinegar and (preferably distilled) water
  • Vinegar with lemon juice with water
  • Vinegar with Dish Soap (e.g. Dawn) and water
  • Vinegar with Borax, Table Salt, and Water …

You get the idea. The vinegar solutions used most frequently to clean and/or disinfect countertops in the kitchen and bathroom typically involve vinegar, lemon juice, and water.

Now comes the crux of the matter …

Neither Vinegar nor Lemon Juice Should be Used on Granite Countertops

None of the DIY or professionally packaged cleaning solutions should be used on stone countertops. Even the weaker citric acid (C₆H₈O₇ - the main ingredient of lemon juice) is bad for a stone surface. Vinegar has an even stronger impact on stone and should be avoided at all costs.

Marble or limestone are particularly impacted by regular application of vinegar since the calcite in the stones reacts directly to erode the surface. This causes the surfaces to etch or dull.

Vinegar does not have calcite, but with repeated use of a vinegar cleaning agent (especially if used daily), two undesirable effects are likely to take place:

  • The sealant, which is a critical part of the finish of any vinegar countertop, is going to be corroded away as the acetic acid works on it; and
  • The underlying stone itself, while naturally stain-resistant, has fissures and pits – as vinegar (i.e., acetic acid) settles into that area, they will begin to cloud over and create a stain (etching effect) that mars the beauty of the stone.

Your Granite Countertops will Lose their Polished Glimmer if Acidic Solutions are Used

As mentioned above, if you keep using vinegar for cleaning, the sealant will not protect the granite below. As the acid gets trapped in the natural pockmarks, cloudy stains, or etchings, rise to the surface, giving the countertop a series of dull, cloudy spots which will spoil the look.

If you inadvertently spill vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic liquids on your granite countertops, take care to clean it up fast. Otherwise, you will run the risk of the acid finding its way through the seal and inevitably creating the aforementioned etch marks. The longer and deeper the seepage, the harder it will be to remove the stain.

How to Keep Countertops Clean, or Remove Stains from Granite?

For daily maintenance, a number of cleaning materials can be used, starting with cleaning off with warm water. Putting soap is ok, provided no dregs are left.

Cleaning materials used on granite should ideally be pH balanced. Hydrogen Peroxide (12%) mixed with water can do the trick for minor spills or the first appearance of surface stains. For more professional cleaners, the following are good to consider:

  • Granite Gold Daily Cleaner Spray: This is a top-rated daily use cleaner that is recommended by many professionals.
Granite Gold Daily Cleaner Spray and Refill Value Pack Streak-Free Cleaning for Granite, Marble, Travertine, Quartz, Natural Stone Countertops, Floors - Made in the USA, Clear
  • ULTIMATE VALUE PACK – Double up on Granite Gold supplies and save yourself some time and money.  Each order includes (1) 24-ounce spray bottle and (1) 64-ounce refill container.
  • GORGEOUS, STREAK FREE RESULT – This cleaning solution never leaves behind unsightly streaks or smudges.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a paper towel or lint-free cloth for a sparkling result.
  • VERSATILE DAILY CLEANER – You can use Granite Gold to clean and protect natural stone surfaces such as granite, marble and travertine as well as quartz surfaces and ceramic and porcelain tile surfaces.
  • Bar Keeper’s Friend Granite and Stone Cleaner: While this can be used daily as well, this cleaner is often recommended for use in places (e.g., bars) where the possibility of bad spills is high. In other words, the Bar Keeper’s Friend will remove deeper stains.
Bar Keepers Friend Granite & Stone Cleaner & Polish (25.4 oz) Granite Cleaner for Use on Natural, Manufactured & Polished Stone, Quartz, Silestone, Soapstone, Marble - Countertop Cleaner & Polish (2)
  • ?? Bar Keepers Friend Granite & Stone Cleaner & Polish is specially formulated to remove stains, grease, and grime from natural stone and manufactured stone. Gentle enough to use daily on granite, quartz, silestone, and soapstone. BKF granite cleaner is specially formulated to clean stone without etching or marring the surface.  Just spray the cleaner on the countertop or other surface and wipe clean in a circular motion, using a soft, clean cloth or paper towel.
  • ⚪ Need a daily granite cleaner to clean and polish your countertop or other stone surfaces? Bar Keepers Friend Granite & Stone Cleaner & Polish removes food oil, coffee stains, and food debris from countertops without damaging the finish. BKF granite cleaner contains no harmful chemicals, so it's safe for use on most sealed or polished stone, such as marble or quartz vanities, fireplace surrounds, stone entryways and sealed stone lawn ornaments. (Always test cleaner on a small area first).
  • ?? Vinegar, bleach, and cleaners containing citric acid can damage natural stone. BKF's granite cleaner is pH-balanced, so it won't harm the structure of natural polished stone. Use daily to clean and shine your countertop and bathroom vanities - no heavy scrubbing required. Just spray the surface and wipe clean, for a brilliant shine. For best results, use a microfiber towel, a soft clean cloth, or a paper towel to wipe away cleaner.

Given the expense you have incurred to have the granite installed, having a high-grade cleaner like the two mentioned above should be an easy choice.

Keep Soft Cloth Towels Handy

If tackling a minor spill, using paper towels is fine. If, however, you have larger spills or the start of a stain, you will need to spend a long time tackling the issue. Whether you use Granite Gold, Hydrogen Peroxide, or warm, soapy water, you will need to wipe off residues as thoroughly as possible.

Using soft cloth towels to apply the cleaning solutions and then wiping off the surface with warm water will help both cleaning and maintaining the shine.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The use of acidic vinegar on granite must be avoided. Ignore any advice from DIY enthusiasts raving about its cleaning and stain removing prowess. While generally true, vinegar (and other acids) is like kryptonite to hard, stain-resistant stones like granite.

Ultimately, it’ll be a lot harder to get rid of etching from vinegar use than to remove the stain from a small spill with a non-acidic cleaning solution.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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