Formica is a brand name for plastic laminate overlays used to finish cabinets, counters and other furnishings. Though this material is known for its durability and low-maintenance requirements, it can show signs of abuse over time. These signs of abuse can take the form of scratches, chips or a general loss of color and shine. Fortunately, you can use simple cleaning and restoration techniques to bring back the look of your Formica counters.
Clean Formica surfaces using a clean, damp cloth that is nonabrasive; add dish detergent if necessary. Dry the surface with a soft, dry cloth.
Remove laminate adhesive residue using a Formica adhesive solvent along with a dry cloth. Use a damp cloth to wipe remaining solvent away, then dry the counter. This adhesive often appears at joints or seams, so extra care should be taken not to flood the seams with solvent or any other type of liquid.
Treat tough stains with a paste made from equal parts baking soda and water. Allow the paste to sit on the stain for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a soft cloth. Do not rub this paste into the surface, as it could scratch the Formica.
Use a plastic laminate restoration product such as Gel-Gloss to hide surface scratches and restore shine and color. This product is available at most home improvement and hardware stores and should be applied to the counter using a dry cloth.
Repair chipped or damaged edges by replacing edge banding. Often, the edges of a countertop are the more vulnerable spot for chipping or damage. Rolls of edge banding can be purchased from Formica or from a specialty cabinet and countertop dealer. Simply scrape away the old Formica edges and install the banding, using plastic laminate adhesive to secure it in place.