How to Clean Countertops

A gloved hand cleans a countertop with a cloth.

You may be skeptical about this article because you feel that cleaning countertops is a rather intuitive process. Generally, you’re correct, so I’m gearing this article toward cleaning really, really filthy countertops. We’re talking coffee stains, dried grease, and remnants of a naked toga dance party in a fraternity house kind of disgusting. Yeah, that’s right. That kind of dirty.

I promise you that the following will be tedious. However, your nasty-@$$ counter will be clean. It will be clean enough that you can eat off of it. It will be clean enough that you won’t want to eat off of it so that you won’t ever have to clean it like this again.

Steps to Cleaning Countertops

  1. cleaning suppliesGather your materials. Cleaning a countertop is straightforward business. All you need is a dirty countertop, a small bowl, a clean cloth, baking soda, Seventh Generation Dish Soap, bleach, spray bottle, and warm water. If these ingredients sound familiar, it’s because you can use them for many different jobs. Combining water, baking soda, and dish soap creates a very handy, homemade soft scrub.
  2. soap, baking soda, and waterCreate your soft scrub. Put a small amount of warm water into the bowl. Next, place a small amount of dish soap into the bowl. Add baking soda and mix it until you have a relatively thick paste. This forms a homemade soft scrub that, once you’re done cleaning the countertops, you can use to clean just about anything else in the house (bathtub, sink, microwave, refrigerator).
  3. spray bottle, bleach, waterCreate your prewash. Take your earth-friendly, chlorine-free bleach (I recommend Seventh Generation brand), and pour two capfuls into your spray bottle. Fill the bottle with warm water and place the top back on the bottle. Shake well before using.
  4. spraying counterSpray your prewash on the countertop. Spray the prewash liberally over the countertops, focusing heavily on particularly soiled areas. Let that soak in for a minute or two. Take your first cloth and wipe off the surface. This should lift a good portion of the grossness. Rinse the cloth thoroughly in the sink, squeeze out the excess moisture, and wipe the countertop down again. Rinse again.
  5. scrubbing counterApply soft scrub to the countertop. Once you’ve rinsed the cloth thoroughly, put some soft scrub on it and start scrubbing the countertop. This will help lift up any stubborn grease or food stains, and has the added bonus of disinfecting your countertop. Use as much soft scrub as necessary to clean the entire countertop. Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse your cloth completely, squeeze out the excess water, and wipe away the residual soft scrub. This may take several passes to clear.
  6. postwash counterUse your prewash as a postwash on the countertop.Give the countertop another liberal spray down with your bleach water. Using your cloth, wipe it up, scrubbing a little to give your countertop that extra shine. Rinse your cloth, squeeze the excess water out, and wipe the countertop one last time. You now have the cleanest countertops in the county. Take pictures and post them on your Facebook Wall.

Multipurpose Cleaning Solution

Any level of the previous steps could clean a slightly less filthy countertop. Sometimes just the prewash will do the trick; other times it takes the prewash and the soft scrub. In any event you’ll want to loosen things up with the prewash first, and maybe save yourself a step or two. Also, don’t throw away the extra soft scrub and prewash spray when you’re done, as they can be used to clean other things. My wife and I use the prewash mixture to clean off my son’s highchair tray. If you do that, just remember to wipe it off thoroughly prior to feeding a child on it.

The above method could be used to clean many different types of countertops: granite, marble, tile, etc.

Natural Countertop Cleaners

bottle of seventh generation dish soapSeventh Generation Dish Soap. Its gentle nature leaves skin feeling heavenly after each use. It was lovingly created by deaf St. Bernard’s in the Himalayas. Okay, not really, but it’s good stuff. It’s safe for you and safe for the environment, too. And that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

jug of baking sodaBaking soda. The MacGyver of kitchen products, this stuff can do almost anything. Combine with a paper clip and a rubber band, and you could build a cleaning solution so powerful they would use it on the space shuttle. Keep some on hand at all times.

seventh generation bleachSeventh Generation Chlorine Free Bleach. Clean your home and bleach your clothes without making the entire place smell like a public swimming pool! This stuff is great because it does the job it’s supposed to do, and looks good doing it. Also, it doesn’t contain chlorine, which makes it better for you and the environment. You can order jugs from Amazon.