The Best Countertop Cleaners for Every Surface

The Best Countertop Cleaners for Every Surface

By Sarah Zorn, Sarah Zor

Kitchen countertops bear the heavy load and provide the work canvas for our cooking and baking experiments. They can also harbor a suspicious stretch of bacteria—from food packaging, our hands, stray ingredients—if we don't clean them properly.

Counters are made of a variety of materials, so you can’t indiscriminately aim a can of Lysol at laminate the same way you would granite, or approach cleaning butcher block in an identical fashion to stainless steel.

That’s why we consulted a range of experts to learn how to safely eradicate all manner of unsightly countertop food stains, as well as that lurking, invisible…well, you know.

Stainless Steel

“Soap and water are a good start,” says Afoma Umesi, an editor at the cleaning website Oh So Spotless. “You can attack serious stains with baking soda. Just remember to dry with paper towels or a microfiber cloth to prevent annoying streaks. If you're feeling fancy, you can polish it with lemon oil for some extra shine.”

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Or, use a similarly simple combination: “I find that when it comes to cleaning stainless steel, nothing beats a simple solution of water and vinegar,” says Lisa Torelli-Sauer, an editor at Sensible Digs. “Mix two parts water with one part vinegar in a spray bottle and use a microfiber cloth to wipe down your stainless steel surfaces. This method is inexpensive, eco-friendly, and removes water stains like magic.”

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Butcher Block

Both Umesi and Torelli-Sauer recommend a combination of vinegar, soap, and water to clean this surface. “Wipe down daily with a solution of water and distilled white vinegar. I like to use lemon and salt to remove tough stains. I never use any kind of abrasive cleaner on this surface,” says Umesi.

“To clean butcher block countertops, start with a wet sponge and a bit of dish soap. After you’ve removed all food residue/stains, rinse your sponge with clean water and wipe over the surface again to remove excess soap. Next, use a microfiber cloth soaked in a bit of vinegar to wipe down the entire surface,” says Torelli-Sauer.


“Laminate countertops are the easiest to clean,” says Torelli-Sauer. “Dish soap and water along with a cleaning cloth will do the trick. If you are dealing with water stains or an extra greasy surface, try using a mixture of two parts water and one part vinegar. Spray the solution onto the mess, and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes before wiping clean. Vinegar is not only a powerful cleaner; it also gives your laminate countertops extra shine.”


“Good old warm water and dish soap (Dawn is excellent) does the trick for daily cleaning” of marble counters, says Umesi. “Just wipe with a towel afterward. If you run into more difficult stains, it's time to call in the baking soda for reinforcement. Leave the water and powder paste on the stain for at least 24 hours, and you should see a marked improvement.”


Costly granite can lose its shine when it's cleaned with acids like vinegar. “I recommend keeping it simple with granite. Use some dish soap and water, wipe with a lint-free cloth, and add a dash of isopropyl alcohol to sanitize, if you like,” says Umesi.

Or, opt for a homemade granite cleaner. Cristhian Salazar, Director of Culinary Operations for Xperience Restaurant Group, uses the following recipe on his seven restaurants:

Homemade Magical Granite Cleaner and Disinfectant

3 cups of lukewarm water

4-5 drops of your favorite dish soap

1 cup of isopropyl alcohol

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle, and shake them up.