Outdoor countertops can make for a wonderful addition to any backyard. Many homeowners have enjoyed the comforts of a backyard kitchen area. Here, countertops can serve as food preparation stations flanked around a roaring barbeque. Guests can serve themselves there, use them as tables, and enjoy great food and greater company.
Good cooks understand the value of keeping their kitchens clean. Backyard versions are no different. If you install outdoor countertops, you can’t count on them to stay sanitary on their own. Read on for an in-depth guide with professional advice on how to properly clean your outdoor countertops.
Why Clean Outdoor Countertops?
“Why should I clean my outdoor countertops,” you ask? You might as well ask, “Why should I wash my car?” or “Why should I spray my windows?” The simple answer is that anything left outdoors is exposed to the elements. Nature is never neat. Moreover, nature is often harsh — sometimes in sudden bursts, sometimes (more insidiously, one could argue) in glacially gradual increments.
Most outdoor countertops are made from stone, and laypersons often expect this all-natural material to be exceptionally hardy. However, stonecraft care kits exist for a reason: rock isn’t totally invulnerable. Water can seep into the tiniest cracks and expand them until they’re impossible to ignore. Insects and animal droppings, however small, can mar and contaminate the surface. Mold and mildew can grow in damp spots.
Outdoor countertops are often an expensive investment, especially those made from stone. Homeowners want such investments to last as long as possible. They can only do get the most out of these installations by cleaning and maintaining them regularly. Just consider it another chore, one that only needs to be done from time to time.
Cleaning Guides for Different Types of Stone
Outdoor countertops come in several types of stone. Each has its own unique properties, and the care they require may differ from the others. Recognizing this fact is valuable — you wouldn’t want to permanently damage the rock because you treated it the same way as another type.
Concrete does not have to be brutal and utilitarian. I sculpted and finished it with care, it can look quite stunning and sleek as an outdoor countertop. Unfortunately, thoughtful design can’t change its porous nature. If you don’t cover the surface in a layer of sealant every couple of years or so, it might absorb liquids and oils.
The type of stain will affect your approach. Most require little more than soap and water. Better still are concrete cleaners and polishes, products designed for treating this specific material. You could also try dipping some paper towels in bleach and leave it over the mark for about ten minutes. This latter method removes blemishes without leaving any.
Whatever you do, make sure not to use any acid-based cleaning products. Concrete reacts poorly to acids, which can even penetrate layers of sealant. If you get any acid stains from, say, spilling lime juice, you could get a professional to buff out the surface. The best thing you can do here is to just avoid, or at least be careful with leaving anything acidic on the countertop.
Granite is another popular option for outdoor countertops, and not just for its natural beauty. It’s quite durable and doesn’t crack as easily as concrete. It’s also great at resisting dirt, bacteria, mold, rain, heat, and other pressures from being outside. With that said, we still recommend applying a new layer of granite sealer once a year.
You should also still strive to keep the surface clean when it does get stained. Just make sure to avoid cleaners that use acid, bleach, or ammonia — they’ll just make the problems worse. You can stay on the safe side with granite surface care supplies, which do more to preserve and protect the stone than generic cleaning products.
Simple stains can be cleared up with water and soap. A half-and-half solution spray of rubbing alcohol and H20 can rub out trickier marks. For the biggest messes, 24 hours under a paste made with baking soda and water should do it. For any of these techniques, use a soft cloth or non-abrasive wipe to remove anything you applied.
Marble is indisputably beautiful and luxurious, but most homeowners use them indoors for a reason. For all its durability, it’s not as hard as granite and not as resistant to the elements. You could certainly use it for outdoor countertops. You’d just have to be willing to maintain them. Resealing should be done at least once annually, but we recommend doing it twice a year.
Cleaning should, of course, be a much more regular part of maintenance. It may be most helpful to know what not to use. Abrasive scrubbing pads can scratch the material with unsightly results, so they’re a no-go. Even a little acid will leave permanent marks, which means no bleach or vinegar. A dash of ammonia mixed with hydrogen peroxide can help with stubborn stains, but be stingy.
Thankfully, hot water and soap are usually enough for keeping marble countertops clean. When this classic mix doesn’t suffice, you can count on high-quality marble cleaner products to do the trick. Etchings from acids are tougher to take care of on your own, so you may want to consult a professional. Keep in mind also that marble outdoor countertops will almost certainly accrue marks over time — but at least they’ll look natural, which has an appeal.
High-Quality Cleaning Supplies for Stone Outdoor Countertops
Outdoor countertops made from stone are more likely to endure the elements than, say, wooden tables, but they’re not invulnerable. They still require plenty of care on your part, and you should still act quickly before stains can settle and harden.
The stone cleaners on sale at My Stone Care can help. Our high-quality, battle-tested supplies can help homeowners remove stains without destroying the rock in the process. Shop a variety of products by surface type at our online store so you can protect your investment and prolong your outdoor countertop’s lifespan.