The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Countertops

The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Countertops
  • Opening Intro -

    When you move into your own place, you expect that there is going to be a slight learning curve.

    Things will need fixing, there will be maintenance tasks, and household chores are a must.


But did you ever think you were going to struggle with the simple act of cleaning kitchen countertops?

Messy and stained countertops are a frustration for anyone who likes to keep their home looking nice. It often seems like you no sooner clean them, though, than they’re a disaster again.

Yet some people manage to have spotless counters with seemingly no effort. That’s because they know the tricks, and you can too!

This ultimate guide will show you how your countertops can remain sparkling clean with minimal work on your part.

1. Start With a Declutter

How well your counters remain spotless after you scrub them down relies a lot on your habits. No amount of cleaning is going to last if you are always unloading your junk anywhere you see an empty surface.

This is especially common in the kitchen, but you probably notice your bathroom surfaces and dressers fill up quickly. Flat, bare counters are a magnet for clutter.

It’s a fact of life, but you can prepare for the likelihood of a clutter-counter takeover by investing in organizers.

Make them easily accessible and designate a spot for the things that end up there anyway, like:

Planning for messes is the first step in getting them organized! It may take some habit retraining for you and your family, but within no time, you’ll have clutter-free countertops.

2. Follow Up With a Deep Clean

Once your counters are decluttered thoroughly, it’s the perfect opportunity to scrub them down.

The counters aren’t the only part that you should clean right now. Your backsplash and wall are probably dirty, and your cabinets could likely use a good wash, too.

Start with your appliances. Pull out the racks in your stove and use oven cleaner to make the insides shiny.

For the microwave, heat a cup of water for five minutes. The condensation soaks stains off the sides, and then you can follow it up with a microfiber wipedown.

As you’re cleaning the fridge, don’t forget the very top, the drawers, and the compressor area at the bottom.

undermount kitchen sinksingle handle kitchen faucet

      some countertop setup ideas to consider      

3. Learn the Importance of Sanitizing

The two most germ-laden rooms in the house are the bathroom and the kitchen. When bacteria sits in dark, moist areas or on surfaces for too long, they can make your whole family sick.

Getting rid of germs should be a priority in every home. You can limit the exposure to dangerous bacteria by swapping out dish sponges and toothbrushes every two to three months. Bleach your toothbrush holder weekly or put it through the dishwasher.

For everything else, make your own germ-killing sanitizer. Once you clean the surfaces, spray them down with a simple solution of one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water.

Use a clean microfiber cloth or a paper towel to wipe the sanitizer off the surfaces and let them dry before you put anything on them.

4. Know Your Countertop Cleaning Style

The cleaners recommended for taking care of your countertops might not be what you think. There are specific chemicals that are and are not supposed to be used on different counters. If you use the wrong one, you could destroy the surface material.

Always follow the instructions that came with your countertops.

If you don’t have any specific directions to follow, you can use these tips as a guideline:

  • Stainless steel or granite –

    Use a gentle cleanser (avoiding harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia) and a soft cloth to wipe it off. Both of these surfaces are easily scratched. Never use a sponge or other abrasive material.

  • Laminate –

    These countertops are easy to damage if they get too wet. Use a mild cleansing solution directly applied to the cloth, not the counter. Wipe any excess water off right away to prevent seepage.

  • Marble –

    Possibly, the material that stains the easiest, cleaning marble countertops means being extra cautious! You have to use a gentle cleanser and a brand new cloth, so previous stains don’t transfer to the marble. Never use cleaning agents that leave behind a residue, like ammonia.

  • Tile –

    Tile is in many houses. It’s simple to wipe clean, but the grout between each little square stains. To clean the tile itself, all you need is a soft cleaning agent and microfiber cloth. Wet the cloth with a bit of warm water and wipe the surface.

butcher blocksbutcher block countertop

      some butcher block ideas to consider      

To clean the grout, though, you might need to break out the toothbrush and toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. Scrubbing some plain, white toothpaste with your brush, then wiping it clean right away, gets rid of the gunk between the tiles.

Before you start cleaning a new counter, begin with a small section first. When you find what works, stick to it!

5. Memorize the Tricks to Get Rid of Stubborn Stains

Permanent marker, tomato sauce, red wine, oh my!

There are some things that you just know are never going to come out of that surface once they’ve landed.

If you know the tricks to your countertop material, you might be able to magically remove even the most stubborn of stains, such as:

  • Ink –

    As soon as you notice the dreaded ink stain, put some Vaseline around the mess, then spritz some rubbing alcohol on it. Let it dry and rinse with dish soap.

  • Coffee or Tea –

    The rings from these beverages can last forever! Get rid of the permanent brown stain by mixing one cup of vinegar and one cup of water.

    Spray the stain and pat dry, then follow up with an ammonia spritz. Blot dry. (Note: If your counter type is gentle-clean only, skip this cleaning solution.)

  • Mustard –

    Pour a generous helping of white vinegar over the yellow stain. Rinse off with a warm water cloth and dish soap.

Don’t despair or give up on the stain. It might not have to be permanent if you can find a magic solution for it!

other valuable tips:


A clean home starts at the surface and builds up from there. No matter how spotless the rest of your house is, messy or stained countertops distract you from seeing it that way.

But you, too, can keep your counters spot-free with this guide to expert countertop cleaning!

Aaron Hunt is the property manager for Prime Place OSU. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by call or text at 405-708-7605.

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