A few inexpensive ingredients are all you need
to make an all-natural and non-toxic homemade granite cleaner
A few years ago I began switching over to natural and homemade cleaning products. They’re far cheaper than store-bought cleaners, and so much better for the health of the environment, and the health of me and my family.
The one place I was resistant to change, however, was cleaner for my granite countertops.
Polished granite is known for it’s durability and low maintenance requirements, but the fact is that it can get chipped, stained and discolored just like anything else, especially if the sealant has been eroded or worn off.
Because of my fear of hurting my countertops, I always used specialty granite cleaners, which were expensive and full of chemicals I can’t pronounce. I thought that was just the price I had to pay to keep my counters clean and the sealant intact.
Why Make Homemade Granite Cleaner?
I started dreading cleaning my counters because I would get headaches afterward. And if the girls were home while I was cleaning, I would bark at them not to touch because I was using chemicals!
It finally dawned on me that this was wrong.
Our kitchen and our large center island are figuratively and literally the heart of our home. We prepare and serve our food there. I knead my bread there. That’s where we stack the bounty of tomatoes and other harvests from the garden. We do art projects there. Friends and neighbors lean on those counters, talking and laughing.
I need those countertops to be clean but, more importantly, we all need them to be safe!
What Not to Use to Clean Granite
When you think about making homemade granite cleaners, you probably think about something involving vinegar. It’s a powerhouse in the home cleaner arsenal because it’s excellent at disinfecting and degreasing many different kinds of surfaces.
But don’t use it here!
Vinegar is much too harsh and corrosive to use on your polished granite countertops. The acetic acid it contains can eat away at the sealant, damage the stone and dull it’s glossy appearance. Baking soda is also considered too abrasive to use here, minutely scratching the stone and creating places for grime, dirt and bacteria to colonize.
Even plain and gentle soap can leave stains, and water alone won’t disinfect anything.
So, what will work?
Homemade Granite Cleaner
The answer is really simple, using ingredients you probably already have at home. If not, they can be found at any grocery store and will end up costing you much less than specialty granite cleaners.
- 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
- 1/2 tsp castile soap
- 10-20 drops of essential oil
- 16 oz. spray bottle (preferably glass)
- Add the alcohol and the soap
- Add the essential oils (how many drops depends on your preferences)
- Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water and shake vigorously
Why Use Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing (or isopropyl) alcohol is the magic ingredient in this recipe. It can safely be used on any surface, and it sterilizes, disinfects and kills many bacteria commonly found on counters, including E. coli, strep and staphylococcus. It’s also highly volatile, which means that it evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave any scum or residue behind.
Just remember that, technically, isopropyl alcohol is still a chemical and it can be caustic to your skin or eyes or even your lungs if used in large and concentrated quantities. Luckily, we don’t use large or concentrated quantities in these homemade cleaners, and I still consider it to be much more mild than what’s in most commercial options.
You could also use a high-proof vodka, which is ethyl alcohol, but I haven’t done this so I can’t attest to it. I have read that it works in much the same way, though.
Why Use Castile Soap?
I used to refer to Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap as “hippie soap” and not in a good way. I thought it smelled weird (we had the peppermint-scented kind, back then), and I felt weirdly tingly when I used it. We have the lavender and unscented versions now, which smell way better in my opinion, and it’s really grown on me, mostly because there is no disputing that it is a good, concentrated, completely biodegradable and effective soap!
Castile soap is made from vegetable oils (like coconut, olive, hemp and jojoba oils) instead of animal fat or synthetic detergents. In Dr. Bronner’s brand specifically, the ingredients are simple, organically sourced and certified fair trade. The soap will break down in nature more quickly and easily than other soaps, and is safe for septic systems and the environment.
If you don’t have or don’t want to use castile soap, regular dish soap will work, too. I would urge you to try castile soap though. You can use it to clean practically everything (even your teeth, if you’re so inclined!), and it’s super concentrated so one bottle will last forever, making it a great deal.
Essential Oils for Cleaning
So here’s the thing: I’m not completely sold on the wonders of essential oils. A lot of people claim that essential oils can actually disinfect surfaces, or kill viruses and bacteria. I don’t know if that’s true. There are some studies that claim it is, and others that claim it’s not.
However, I do think there is no denying that they’re great for aromatherapy purposes. I love using them in my bath and to add chemical-free scents to my laundry, so it makes sense to me to also use them in my homemade cleaners to add a nice, fresh and naturally derived scent.
It’s completely up to you to add essential oils, or not, as you prefer. And if they do have some antimicrobial or antibacterial properties, then so much the better!
Does This Homemade Granite Cleaner Really Work?
Short answer: YES!
The cleaners that I bought from the store always seemed to leave a filmy residue behind, regardless of whether they said “streak-free,” and which I always had to buff off with a clean cloth. This cleaner, on the other hand, does not. It actually leaves my counters looking clean and shiny and downright reflective.
This cleaner is all around the better choice for taking care of your countertops and pretty much any other surface of your house.
One Final Note About Granite Counters
Granite itself is not a sustainable material. It’s a non-renewable resource, it’s quarried and shipped all over the world, and often the workers who quarry it are exploited.
I didn’t actually want granite countertops, for all the reasons listed above and for the fact that they’re so expensive. When we were building our house, we were pretty much led to believe that we didn’t have an option. We didn’t even get to pick out our slab! In hindsight, I wish I’d been more proactive and demanded wooden countertops, but I didn’t and now I have granite and so I’ll make the best of it for as long as they last.
If you are going to be building or remodeling your kitchen, you should definitely go for sustainable counters. If you already have granite, take care of it so that it lasts as long as possible! Wipe up spills immediately, use cutting boards and coasters, use an eco-friendly sealant, and most of all use this homemade cleaner to keep your counters clean, polished and safe!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NATURALLY CLEANING YOUR COUNTERS?
SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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Shared on this great website: Oakhill Homestead