How to clean sandstone countertops?

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Sandstone countertops have become very popular in recent years for new construction and remodel efforts in both the bathroom and kitchen. The beauty of a sandstone finish is their texture or matte appearance, their versatility and their style. However, sandstone does require a bit of care to keep in just installed condition.

Many people think because it’s stone, it is impossible to damage but nothing could be further from the truth. Stone has many potential weaknesses including its porous structure that allows moisture absorption. Absorption can lead to color, scent and chemical stains that simply become part of the stone. However, regular protection and proper cleaning of your sandstone countertop can eliminate worries and problems. The best rule of thumb to apply; if in doubt, doesn’t use any cleanser or cleaning technique. Some mistakes from cleansers can be irreversible. Always check the label on the product before using and test an inconspicuous area first to see what affects, if any, may occur. If a small section from the cutting or installation of your sandstone countertop can be left behind, use this piece for testing purposes.

Once your countertop has been sealed, by following the recommendations of the manufacturer, it can be protected with simple, regular cleaning methods. Sealing protects the surface and should be completed right after installation. Usually a seal lasts a number of years, but proceed as the manufacturer suggests.

The best everyday method for cleaning sandstone countertops is to watch your actions carefully, be cautious, and immediately wipe spills - don’t let them sit. Use pH balanced cleaners and mild, untainted, unscented detergents for daily cleaning. Mild dishwashing liquid works very well on sandstone surfaces. Avoid acidic cleaners, even those with citrus additives, as they will etch and remove the polished and sealed surface.

Be certain to rinse the stone and grout thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaner. Like stains, don’t let it sit.

A soft bristled toothbrush can be used to loosen debris before cleaning, just remember to thoroughly rinse and dry.

If a stain is stubborn, don’t scratch or scrub, try repeated mild cleaning, rinsing and drying.

The best method for heavy duty cleaning is to first try to solve the cleaning need with pH balanced cleaners. Many include scouring beads and poultices (pastes) manufactured for heavy duty cleaning. Be certain to use the soft bristled toothbrush to remove stuck on debris. Again test an inconspicuous area with any abrasive powder to see if any adverse affects are left on the sandstone. Allow the cleaner to rest on the test surface to see the full potential.

If the pH balanced scouring cleaner results are not acceptable, proceed to the more aggressive high alkaline "heavy duty" or "deep clean" type cleaners available. Read the label and test before use.

Again, it is very important to rinse the countertop and grout thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaner.

Once you’ve found a cleaner that works to your liking, set up a regular maintenance schedule and your countertop will retain its beauty for years to come.