How to Remove Stains from Granite

Granite countertops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, elegance, and natural beauty. However, like any surface, granite can become stained from spills, grease, food, and other household products. The good news is that most stains can be removed from granite with the right cleaning methods and products.

Remove Stains from Granite

Causes of Stains on Granite

Granite is a very hard material composed of quartz, feldspar, and other natural minerals. The sealant applied to granite makes it relatively stain resistant, but it is still porous enough for stains to penetrate if left untreated. Some common causes of staining on granite surfaces include:

  • Oils and grease from food preparation and cooking
    • Vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, lard, bacon grease
    • Sauces and salad dressings
    • Nut butters and tahini
    • Pizza, pasta with red sauce
    • Fried foods
  • Spills from coffee, tea, wine, juice, and other beverages
    • Coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino
    • All types of tea including black, green, herbal
    • Red, white, sparkling wines
    • Berry juices like cranberry, pomegranate, acai
    • Sodas and soft drinks
  • Soap scum and hard water deposits
    • Bathroom surfaces near sinks and tubs
    • Toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste
    • Mineral residues from tap water
  • Mold and mildew growth
    • Bathrooms, basements, showers
    • Areas with moisture issues
    • Lack of ventilation increasing humidity
  • Rust stains from metal pans, cans or hardware
    • Cast iron skillets
    • Tin cans
    • Nails, screws, hinges
  • Dyes and pigments from cleaners, cosmetics, art supplies
    • Hair dyes and cosmetics
    • Colored cleaning products
    • Markers, pens, paints
  • Ink marks from pens and markers

Choosing the Right Cleaning Products

It’s important to use the correct cleaning solutions when attempting to remove stains from granite. While granite is durable, harsh acidic or abrasive cleaners can damage the surface. Avoid using any products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids. Scouring powders or creams may also scratch the surface.

For basic cleaning, use a gentle soap and water solution. For tougher stains, a stone-safe granite cleaner is recommended. There are many specialty stone cleaners available made specifically for use on natural stone like granite, marble, and quartz. Look for a cleaner that is non-acidic and won’t discolor the stone.

Recommended Granite Cleaners

A popular option is a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner, which can help lift many stubborn stains. Always test any cleaning product on a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the granite. Never mix cleaning agents together – it could result in a toxic or harmful reaction.

Removing Oil-Based Stains

Oil-based stains like grease splatters, cooking oils, and food residue require a degreasing cleaner to break down the oil and allow the stain to be lifted. Here are some tips for treating oil stains on granite:

  • Wipe up any excess oil immediately to prevent the stain from penetrating deeper into the granite.
  • Apply a small amount of dish soap and warm water to the stain. Scrub with a soft cloth or sponge.
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry the area. If any stain remains, move onto the next step.
  • Use a granite degreaser like an oxygen bleach cleaner or hydrogen peroxide cleaner. Spray it directly on the stain and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Scrub with a soft bristle brush to work the degreaser into the stain.
  • Rinse several times to remove all cleaning residue. Dry thoroughly.
  • For stubborn oil stains, apply baking soda directly to the stain and drizzle hydrogen peroxide over it. Form a thick paste and let sit for up to 24 hours covered with plastic wrap. Scrub and rinse cleanly.

Eliminating Water Stains and Rings

Water rings or calcium deposits from glasses, mugs or other vessels can leave behind cloudy white stains on granite surfaces. Hard water areas are especially prone to these mineral deposits. Here are some easy methods for removing them:

  • Wipe the stained area with a cloth dampened with water and a small amount of non-acidic soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on the stain and wipe with a soft cloth.
  • Use a granite cleaner formulated for removing mineral deposits. Apply directly to the stain and let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
  • For heavier water stains, make a poultice using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Apply to the stain thickly and cover in plastic wrap for 24 hours before scrubbing clean.

Eliminating Organic Stains from Foods, Drinks and Plants

Many foods and beverages like coffee, tea, fruit juices, and red wine can leave behind organic stains on granite. Plants can also leave water marks or soil residue. Here are some tips for removing these stubborn organic stains:

  • Blot up any excess spill immediately with an absorbent cloth. Don’t wipe the area as it may spread the stain.
  • Mix up a mild solution of dish soap and warm water. Use a soft cloth or sponge to scrub the stain gently. Rinse thoroughly.
  • For tougher organic stains, spray the area with hydrogen peroxide cleaner. Let it sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
  • For wine, coffee or tea stains, combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste. Apply to the stain and cover in plastic wrap overnight before scrubbing.
  • Use a poultice made with baking soda and water to draw out absorbed stains from repeated spills in one area.
  • Pay special attention and do spot cleaning immediately under plants to avoid buildup of hard to remove organic matter.

Recommended Organic Stain Removers

Lifting Dye Transfer Stains

Pigments and dyes from fabrics, cosmetics, art supplies and other household items can transfer onto granite surfaces, leaving discolored blotchy stains. These can be tricky to remove, but are not permanent if treated properly:

  • Identify and remove the source of the dye transfer – a decorative bathroom rug or towel for example. Wash or clean the item to prevent further transfer.
  • Wipe up any accessible staining with isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth. This may lift some of the pigment.
  • Make a poultice using baking soda and water or hydrogen peroxide. Apply to the stain and cover in plastic wrap for 24 hours to draw out the dye.
  • Use an oxygen bleach cleaner specifically made for granite and let it sit on the stain for 15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. For heavy stains, you may need to apply multiple times.
  • Persistent dye stains may require help from a professional stone cleaner to use more concentrated bleaching or stain removing products.

Removing Ink Stains on Granite

Ink stains from pens, markers, or stamp pads can be problematic on granite surfaces. However, many ink stains can be removed with the right techniques:

  • Blot up any fresh ink immediately with an absorbent cloth and avoid spreading it around.
  • Spray hairspray onto the ink stain which will help break down the ink and make it easier to remove. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Apply a small amount of non-acidic soap and warm water. Use a soft bristle brush to gently scrub the spot.
  • Use isopropyl alcohol on a cloth to blot the stain and lift any remaining ink residue.
  • For tougher ink stains, make a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide poultice. Apply to the stain thickly and cover with plastic wrap overnight before scrubbing.
  • An oxygen bleach cleaner may also help break down stubborn ink stains applied in a thick layer and left to penetrate for 15 minutes before scrubbing.
  • Avoid using excessive force, harsh chemicals or abrasive pads/brushes which could damage the granite surface.

Getting Rid of Rust Stains

Rust stains can occur when metal pans, cookware, or hardware come into contact with granite surfaces, especially in kitchens. Rust is challenging to remove completely, but these methods can help:

  • Clean the rusted metal item thoroughly first to avoid further stain transfer.
  • Use a cleaner containing oxalic or phosphoric acid formulated for natural stone to help dissolve and lift rust particles. Test on a small area first.
  • Make a poultice with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Apply a thick amount to the stain and cover with plastic for 24 hours before scrubbing.
  • For light surface stains, use a rust remover gel and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Repeat process if needed.
  • Try using a rust stain remover liquid formulated for stone. Apply with a cloth and let it soak in for 15 minutes before rinsing.
  • Persistent rust stains may need professional treatment. Avoid abrasive scouring that could scratch granite surfaces.

Cleaning Mold & Mildew Stains

Mold and mildew growth can occur on granite, especially in damp areas like bathrooms. Thankfully, these stains can be cleaned with a few straightforward methods:

  • Mix up a solution of warm water and lemon juice. Scrub stains gently with a soft cloth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Use a pre-mixed mildew cleaner or spray containing bleach or chlorine. Spray thoroughly and allow to sit for 10 minutes before wiping.
  • Make a baking soda paste with a small amount of water. Apply to mildew stains and let sit overnight if possible. Scrub and rinse thoroughly in the morning.
  • Hydrogen peroxide sprayed directly onto mold or mildew stains can help lift staining. Scrub gently after 5 minutes before rinsing.
  • For prevention, keep the granite dry and well-ventilated. Clean with bleach solution monthly. Fix any moisture issues immediately.

Avoiding Damage to Granite Surfaces

Certain cleaners and techniques can inadvertently damage granite surfaces. Take care to avoid:

  • Acidic cleaners like vinegar, lemon juice, or toilet bowl cleaners which may etch and corrode granite.
  • Abrasive scrubbing pads or brushes that could wear down the polished surface.
    • Use soft cloths, sponges, or nylon bristle brushes only
  • Allowing spills or stains to sit and absorb deeply into the stone.
  • Applying excessive pressure while scrubbing which may scratch or dull the granite finish.
  • Putting hot pots or pans directly on granite surfaces which could scorch or crack the stone. Use trivets and hot pads.
  • Leaving sealing and cleaning until stains are noticeably built up and harder to remove.

By using the proper methods and cleaning products, most stains can be removed successfully from granite surfaces. Pay attention to cleaning up spills quickly before they have a chance to soak in and stain deeply. For prevention, maintain the sealant layer and clean with a stone-safe cleaner weekly. Contact a professional stone restoration company for cleaning troublesome stains that resist removal after multiple attempts. Consistent care will keep granite countertops looking like new for many years.

Sharing Is Caring:

As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

Leave a Comment