Granite countertops can last a lifetime when cared for properly. While not infallible, granite is tough, resilient and almost stain resistant. But chips can happen. The shine will fade. Stains will occur. The lack of shine and cleansing of stains is reparable; chipping isn't. Take care of your granite countertops from the moment they're installed, and yours may last you another million years.
When the Installers Leave
If they haven't already done so, granite installers should either seal their handiwork or leave you with containers of sealant to do yourself a few days after the installation. If the job is up to you, take a soft cloth and wipe a coat of the sealer across the surface of your countertop after cleaning and drying it thoroughly. Let the sealant dry overnight and repeat it again the following day. This sealer puts an invisible shield between the surface and the actual granite. Re-seal your granite according to the suggestions of the sealant manufacturer, usually about once a year.
Granite isn't a solid surface, as it is a porous material, although it may seem so. It's vulnerable to acid and acid-based solutions and etching can appear if stains are left to settle. As you work on your granite countertop, keep a kitchen cloth handy to wipe away any liquid that pools. Wine, lemons and limes, tomatoes and other acid-rich foods are culprits. Get them before they get to your granite. Always wipe the countertop after cleansing to eliminate streaks.
No matter how careful you are, staining a granite countertop is probable -- water pools and oils drip. Baking soda is your cleansing friend; when mixed with a little hydrogen peroxide, it can remove a water stain. Make a paste, cover the stain with the paste, cover the paste with plastic wrap and wait overnight. Rinsing and wiping should eliminate the water stain. Do the same with an oil-based stain, only use water with the baking soda.
Avoid Acids and Abrasive Cleaners
Vinegar and lemon-based cleansers contain high levels of acid and should be avoided on granite countertops. Abrasives, including the mild paste-like cleansers, can damage the sealant, weakening its properties as well as the granite beneath. Glass cleaners are not recommended for granite countertops.
Prevent Granite Damage
Logic prevails when working with granite. Use coasters under wine glasses and glasses containing acidic juice. While granite is one of the strongest stones used in kitchens and boasts a natural heat resistance, use a trivet when placing hot pots, pans and baking dishes directly onto the surface. Place mats with felt linings can prevent scratches.