The best first step is always preventative maintenance. Be careful not to damage your countertop’s surface with hot objects (pots or pans can cause irreparable burns), sharp objects (which can scratch surfaces) or rough use (chopping or pounding directly on the countertop). In most instances, a cutting board or spare stove burner (for hot objects) will offer all the protection you need.
Before using any cleaning agent, be sure to dust or sweep off any crumbs or residue.
Clean the surface with a damp, nonabrasive cotton cloth and a mild liquid detergent or household cleaner. Rinse with clean water, then dry the surface with a fresh cotton cloth.
If a stain remains, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the area. Allow the paste to pull out the stain. Don’t rub the paste because it will be slightly abrasive. After a few minutes, wipe the paste away and rinse with clean water. Grout stain may be necessary to restore original grout color for stained tile countertops.
If you discover a light scratch on your solid surface countertop, use a scrub sponge. The material should be slightly tougher and more abrasive than a regular sponge, but not enough to scratch your surface further. Add soap and water and buff until the scratch disappears.
Step 6 (granite and marble countertops only)
You may need to reseal your granite or marble countertop. As a general test, add a few drops of water to the surface of your counter. If the water absorbs into the stone under three to four minutes, it may need sealing. Choose a strippable sealer, which will protect your countertop but can be removed with little effort. Buff it in until you have a nice, shiny surface.