Why Use a pH Neutral Cleaner for Granite Countertops

The proper way to clean granite countertops, according to Maurizio Bertoli

People are often told to clean their granite with glass cleaner or a solution of dish soap and water. No one has ever explained why this is simply bad advice better than Maurizio Bertoli, considered by so many to be the “Godfather” of natural stone and founder of MarbleCleaning.org and MB StoneCare.

Sadly, Maurizio was killed several years ago in a tragic accident, but his legacy lives on through the many articles and hundreds and hundreds of answers he generously provided to consumers of stone, and through the myriad students who became stone restoration craftsmen under his tutelage. Known as much for his no-holds barred, often abrasive approach as he was for his wealth of expertise regarding natural stone, read what Maurizio has to say about the proper way to clean granite countertops.

Quite often, proud owners of granite countertops are advised to use some glass-cleaner or a solution of water and dish soap, or other generic products, for the daily care of their stone.

Let’s start with the glass-cleaner issue. First off, how many brands of glass-cleaners are available out there? Hundreds! And if you think that they are all formulated the same way, think again! Even what’s probably the most popular one, Windex™, comes in several formulations. Who did the testing of those chemicals to find out if they are safe on any possible stone surface? … You fill in the blanks!

Now, what’s even more important, how many different types of “granite” are available? Again, over two thousand and counting! Do you think they are all the same – besides the way they look? Once more, think again! The difference in chemical makeup between the vast array of stones sold as “granite” can be – and is – huge!

Now, assuming that one particular type of glass-cleaner is OK for, say, true geological granite, will it be safe also, on gneiss, or gabbro, or dolerite, or porphyry, and so on? How do you know what type of “granite” you actually have, beside the name given to you by your fabricator? Do you think they know for sure? I’ve got news for you: a good 95% of them do NOT. Their stone “education” comes from the invoice of the distributor, or from various “salesmen” who call on them. They actually believe it is ALL granite!

So, how do you feel about taking a chance with a glass cleaner for your daily maintenance chores?

As a restoration contractor I did witness my good share of permanent damages (mostly pitting or dulling) to “granite” allegedly due to the use of glass cleaners! They don’t happen right away, but they eventually will, if the combination is “right”!

What’s more, if your particular “granite” is a stone that does need to be sealed, the impregnator/sealer itself has a very good chance of interacting with cleaner and get damaged by it!

And, I don’t want even begin to mention marble, travertine, onyx and all other calcite-based stones!

How about a little dish soap and water? Could that damage “granite”?

No, it wouldn’t, but … think about this:

Try to wash your hands with water and dish soap, then put them under running water and see how long it’ll take for them to rinse completely. To have such a thorough rinsing (which is the only one acceptable) on your countertop, you should be using a garden hose! So, what happens if you decide not to use a garden hose to rinse your countertop? It’s very simple: a very thin soap film will remain on the stone surface, even if you dry it with a towel. At the beginning you won’t be able to notice it, but as you keep “cleaning” your countertop in that way, it will build-up and, within a few months, your beautiful stone won’t be as shiny as it used to be anymore! Assuming that you can figure out what caused it (don’t expect any intelligence from the “expert” who suggested that you use such a home-brewed concoction!), you will have to remove all the soap scum, that is now caked on your countertop, by using a specialized strong chemical.

Then… it starts all over again!

Is this what you want?

There are companies out there that invest considerable amount of money to formulate specialty cleaning agents that are safe on all natural stone, and offer them to the market. Why do they do that if any glass-cleaner or dish soap could do the job?

You think about it.

The idea of having to buy specialty – and somehow expensive – cleaning products for your valuable natural stone installations may be annoying to a certain extent, but is your best bet if you care about your investment. After all, we’re talking about a few pennies a day and potentially huge savings down the road if it saves you just one restoration contract.

It took Mother Nature hundreds of thousands of years to make the things of beauty you proudly have in your home now. There is not one single piece of stone out there that can exactly match any of the stones you have. You have to respect and appreciate that, and not consider your stone like just another commodity. The way I see it, you didn’t actually buy your stone. You adopted it.

You have to consider it as your duty to give it the best care possible.

Ciao and good luck

Maurizio Bertoli

We hope you enjoyed this article. You can find more archived answers from Maurizio at www.marblecleaning.org.

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JMC did an outstanding job sealing the grout for the floor tiles and shower tiles. JMC also sealed the granite counter tops. The price was competitive and reasonable. The owner, Justin, personally performed the work. The good experience started with him showing up at the scheduled time. He was diligently focused on performing a good job. He applied several coats of sealer to the granite tops to insure a quality job. He spent hours sealing the grout for over 2,000 sq ft of floor tile. His enthusiasm and attention to quality never waivered. I highly recommend using their services.

Steve Temecula CA

Justin helped my husband and I repair a large crack in our granite slab. He not only repaired the crack but resealed all of our other countertops too. His price was very competitive and he kept his word on when he was available and showed up on time. What more could you have asked for! Thank you Justin!!

Misty Temecula CA

Justin did an amazing job color enhancing and sealing our slate floors. I called and met with several tile cleaning companies, but chose Justin because I felt he was the most honest, knowledgeable, and experienced. He took the time to explain different options and even showed me a small area before he continued with the entire floor. He spent hours prepping, cleaning, enhancing, and sealing our slate. His work paid off...our floors are finally gorgeous! He changed our dull, chalky looking slate by giving it a brilliant luster that enhances our home. I could not be more thrilled with the results. Bottom line, Justin did exactly what he said he would at the cost we agreed to and even changed his personal schedule to accommodate my schedule. He went above and beyond. In a time when I feel it is difficult to find good, honest, hardworking people to hire, Justin at JMC Tile and Grout has changed my mind. Thank you Justin!

Laura Temecula CA

Justin is very professional. He has done 2 separate marble polishing jobs for us and each time we have been very pleased. He is very thorough and careful, doing a great prep job to prevent any damage. His prices are very fair. So glad we found Justin. There are very few marble and stone care professionals in this area. Highly recommend Justin!

Diane Murrieta CA

Justin came in and cleaned and resealed the grout on our floors. He was a very professional and easy person to talk to. He was also very helpful with other things around the house. Great guy and great job. Well done!!! Thank you!!!

Helene Temecula CA

Justin did an excellent job of repairing a large crack in our kitchen granite. It was quite deep and covered a large area. Needless to say it was very noticeable and would have caused us to replace an entire slab of granite if we had not had it repaired. He spent almost an entire morning in the restoration. He was meticulous in his work, was able to match the color of the granite and it looks 100% better. In addition he resealed and polished all the rest of our granite countertops. We certainly would recommend him. He was professional, very neat and thorough. He arrived exactly on time, even though he had to drive an hour to reach us. He will certainly be someone we contact again if we need any more restoration or maintenance on our granite. We were delighted with his work. Cyndi M. Coronado

Cyndi Coronado CA

Justin is the man. My wife and I recently moved into our new home in Lake Elsinore, we thought that we would seal the grout on our floors and shower by ourselves. After realizing the size and scope of the grout sealing project we decided to contact an expert to get an estimate. I had read online that most tile companies charge about $1.00 per square foot so I had an idea how much the estimate would be. Justin came out the same day and gave my wife the estimate. Since we did not have any furniture in the house yet we asked if he could start the same day. It was already 2pm at that point and Justin was not sure if he had enough sealer with him to do the whole job. He agreed to start sealing the grout near the walls where the heavy furniture would be placed and come back later to finish the job another day. After he started sealing our grout he found more sealer in his work van and decided that he would just power through and finish the job for us the same day! We were thrilled with the entire experience. Justin is truly a tile and stone professional. When he was finished sealing the grout he also sealed our new granite counter tops. All I can say is, if we ever have a tile or stone job in the future, Justin is "our guy." Great service with top quality products and fair pricing, what more could you ask for? Also, at no point during the job did he attempt to up-sell us anything, as a matter of fact, he tried to lower his price once the job was finished but we wouldn't hear of it. We agreed to a set price and that is what he deserved. Thanks Justin, you saved us a lot of time and energy. I can sleep better at night knowing that our expensive new flooring is protected for many years to come. I would highly recommend JMC Stone & Tile to friends and family.

Lake Elsinore CA

Justin thank you so much for the wonderful job you did restoring my marble floor. Very professional and I will recommend your service to all our friends. Thank you Elizabeth, Riverside County

Elizabeth , Riverside County

Thank you Justin at JMC Stone and Tile Care. He re colored our grout with color seal and it looks amazing. His attention to detail to customer service is top notch and I have no problem referring your services. If your in Temecula CA JMC Stone and Tile Care is my recommendation for all your tile, stone, and color sealing needs. Thank you so much

Cathi Cameron, Temecula CA

We are so happy with the service from Justin at JMC stone and tile care. He re colored are old nasty stained grout on our countertops with color seal. The grout looks brand new he will be referred to all our friends in Murrieta CA.

Julie Johnson Murrieta CA

Justin (JMC Stone and Tile Care) cleaned the tile and grout of my floors in April 2013. On the day he was at my home to provide a quote and also on the day of service, Justin was prompt, courteous and professional. Once involved in the job and realizing that part of my floors was not as badly in need of cleaning as the rest of the tile, he reduced the cost of the service. I very much appreciated his fairness and integrity! Not only did my floors looks sparkling clean when he was done, but I also knew much more about how to keep my floors clean on my own. He was quick to share secrets of his trade! I recommend Justin’s service without reservation. His service is unparalleled, and he is a friendly and honest professional! Gail Miller Temecula CA

Gail Miller Temecula CA

Justin, I would like to thank you again for the excellent job you did repairing and retiling our marble tile table. I would definitely use your services again and recommend you to anyone needing stone or tile work done in Murrieta CA. Thank you, Heather Lumsden

Heather Lumsden Murrieta CA

We have been very pleased with the service that Justin has given us. The overall quality of his work was excellent. In one small area we had a slightly rough feel to the sealant he had applied to our granite countertops. Justin returned on the very day that we called him and quickly repaired it. This is a very courteous, professional, and above all, competent service in Murrieta CA. Thanks so much John Welniak

John Welniak. Murrieta CA

February 14, 2013 Justin We are absolutely thrilled with our new floor!!!! Yes, I say new floor because that is the way the whole house looks! It looks like brand new tile. Justin, you did a fabulous job! Thank You, Judy Nitti

Judy Nitti Temecula CA

I accidentally spilled some cleaner on our marble vanity and made those awful etch marks. I called Justin at JMC Stone and Tile Care and he assured me that I didn't ruin my bathroom vanity. Thanks so much for removing those etch marks, we will definitely refer you to anyone in Wildomar CA.

J. Escarsega, Wildomar CA

I would like to thank Justin of JMC Stone and Tile care for bringing back the beautiful shine to our granite countertops. Very professsional and courteous and on time. It's hard to find all those qualities in one place. Thanks Justin again and we are clients for life and we will definitely refer you to anyone in Oeanside Ca.

Lacey Linek, Oceanside CA

We had a last minute emergency and we had a surprise visit from an important client. We called a few tile and stone companies and not one would help us. We called JMC Stone and Tile Care and Justin rescued us. He was very professional and accommodating to our last minute request to have the tile cleaned. For that we can't thank you enough and will refer you to anyone in Carlsbad CA.

Kyle Batsford, Palomar Reprographics, Carlsbad CA