Granite countertops can last a lifetime with proper care. Taking care of granite may sound intimidating, but it's actually a relatively low-maintenance countertop option. While not infallible, granite is tough, resilient and almost stain resistant. But your beautiful new countertop can chip, stain or lose its shine if you don't take care of it. Learn simple preventative steps and what to do if you have issues, so you can always keep your granite countertops as beautiful as the day they're installed.

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How to Care for Granite Countertops

Sealing the Granite

Sealant acts like an invisible shield for your granite countertops. Ask your countertop installers if they will seal the granite after installation. If not, you can handle the sealing process yourself. For DIY sealing, take a soft cloth and wipe a coat of the sealant across the surface of your countertop after cleaning and drying it thoroughly. Let the sealant dry overnight. Repeat the process the following day.

Sealing granite isn't a one-time thing. You'll need to reapply the sealant occasionally. How often it needs to be done depends on the quality of the sealant and how much use your kitchen countertops get. The general recommendation is resealing granite countertops once per year, but you can test your sealant to see if it really needs it. Put a few drops of water on the countertop. If you see water droplets on top of the granite after five minutes, your sealant is still good. If they disappear, it's time to reseal. If you don't feel comfortable handling the sealing job yourself, hire a professional to handle the work.

Daily Care

Granite may seem like a solid surface, but it's actually a porous material. Because of that trait, liquids and spills can soak into the granite and leave marks. Granite is 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, citrus fruits, tomatoes and other acid-rich foods present the biggest risk to your granite countertops. Get them before they get to your granite. Always wipe the countertop after cleansing to eliminate streaks.

Remove Stains

If you wipe up spills right away, you shouldn't have to worry about staining, especially if you seal your granite regularly. But sometimes you might not notice a spill right away, which can result in a stain if you have unsealed granite countertops. If you notice a stain, you can easily remove it with ingredients you have at home.

A mix of baking soda and water gently removes the stain without damaging the granite. Combine the ingredients to make a paste. Rub the paste into the spot with a soft cloth. Rinse the spot. You may need to repeat the process if the stain doesn't come off the first time. You can also cover the stain with the paste and put plastic wrap ove the spot. Let the paste sit overnight. Wipe away the dried paste, and rinse the countertop.

Avoid Acids and Abrasive Cleaners

Vinegar and lemon-based cleansers contain high levels of acid and should be avoided on granite countertops. Abrasives, including mild paste-like cleansers, can damage the sealant. Glass cleaners and bleach are not recommended for granite countertops and can take away the shine.

You can get specialty granite cleaner, but all you really need is warm, soapy water to clean the surface. Always rinse the countertops after cleaning them with soapy water to remove the residue. Wipe down the countertops regularly to keep them clean.

Prevent Granite Damage

Simple preventative steps keep your granite looking great. 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, it's best to use a trivet when placing hot pots, pans and baking dishes onto the surface. Placemats with felt linings can prevent scratches if you eat at the countertop.