During the holiday season, you'll likely be spending a good deal more time in the kitchen. Today's helpful tips for taking care of your kitchen countertops comes courtesy of Nicholas Draper, President of Granite Source, a Northern Virginia provider of granite and other countertop surfaces. I thought that this article would be of particular interest to my clients and other readers.
HOLIDAY HELP FOR YOUR COUNTERTOP
By Nicholas Draper, President, Granite Source
It’s December. ‘Tis the season of homemade candies and cookies for Christmas, soofganiot and latkas for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa dishes, and New Years Eve finger foods. With holiday parties and family gatherings, the kitchen gets a lot of use. This is definitely a hard month on your countertop, where every dish begins and ends.
December is also the time when we dig deep into the cupboard and pull out food coloring and sprinkles, as well as various oils for dressings and sauces. Sometimes these ingredients are even put in the hands of children and grandchildren who are able to find creative ways to spill. Our countertops are not only busy places but they under assault.
With all this activity, we want to avoid making memories of our holiday disasters--the stains, nicks, and markings left behind. Whatever countertop material you use, there are certain precautions you can take as well as remedies.
Formica® brand laminate
While laminate surface materials are resistant to scratches and impact under normal use, you should always use a cutting board or chopping block. One stray slice with a knife and you will have a lasting remembrance of the event.
If you are using food dyes and other decorating substances, cover the surface with wax paper or drip-proof table cloth. Also, remember to put hot pads under hot skillets, pots, and pans. If the countertop is exposed to any temperature higher than 140 degrees, the laminate can separate from the core material.
Cleaning Formica® laminate is easy. Normally a clean, damp, non-abrasive cloth with a mild detergent or household cleaner can take care of any spills. Baking soda is another good cleaning remedy. The key, as with most spills, is to clean it up quickly. Remember to blot the spill rather than wiping, so it doesn’t spread. You may need to clean and rinse a few times for total cleaning.
For wood, you can follow the same recommendations as for a laminate surface, particularly if the countertop is sealed. Unsealed surfaces are vulnerable to liquid stains of all kinds, and require more immediate and careful cleaning. Stains can leave an odor as well as a mark. Usually, rubbing a slice of lemon or other citrus fruits on the wood can take care of the smell.
Most wood countertops come with instructions concerning the use oils to coat the wood. Be sure to follow these directions as soon as the surface is dry.
One of the best ways to clean a wood top is with mix a half-cup of baking soda with a quart of warm water and rub the paste onto the surface with a scouring pad. Be sure to rinse well with water afterward.
A granite or engineered stone countertop is beautiful addition to any home. It is extremely durable, stain-resistant and easy to care for. Hot pots and pans won't damage it. It won't chip, crack or scratch under normal use. However, it still requires cleaning and upkeep. Using a stone polish regularly is one of the best guarantees for a lasting finish and stain resistance.
A granite countertop should be sealed twice a year with a protective product like DiaminSeal. However, sealants are not foolproof. Stains can occur, especially if the substance contains ingredients such as citrus juices, vinegar, or alcohol. These can strip away the protective sealant. Cooking oil can also find its way to open pores or crevices, especially if the countertop has been used for a long time without re-sealing.
As with other counter surfaces, be sure to clean up a spill as soon as it happens. A solution of mild soap and water applied with a soft sponge will work well as a cleaner. Avoid detergents, abrasive cleansers, rough sponges or scouring pads as they can destroy the sealant and leave scratches. There are cleaning solutions also available from a dealer to be used specifically with a granite countertop.
There is something about a kitchen, not only as a work area but as a gathering place as well. Often, we see guests gravitating to this center of everyday life for friendship and casual conversation. By following a few simple guidelines, we will be able to keep our countertops clean, attractive and entertainment ready.
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