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~ How to Clean Your Granite and other Info. ~ UPDATED 7/07 ~

~ Sorry for the boring looking page, but the info is good :)

Snippets off the web on granite care:

Clean natural stones with "special stone cleaners", "pH balanced cleaners" or "neutral base cleaners."

Do not clean any natural stone with acidic cleaners, including (but not limited to) vinegar or cleaners with "lemon" or "lime" on the label. These products will abrade the polish from the stone. Sealers DO NOT protect polished surfaces from these types of cleaners.

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Natural stone should be washed regularly with fresh warm water and a clean, non-abrasive cloth.

Adding a neutral (ph balanced) cleaner will help to remove topical dirt and grime.

* Avoid detergents that can be abrasive and contain chemicals high in acid or alkaline. These chemicals can "etch" or remove the natural polish on the stone's surface.

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Stone Etching: Action or effect of an Acid - based compound on a surface. Seen as dull spots or rings caused by acid - based cleaners and foods such as; Vinegar, Wine, Fruit, Vegetables, Orange Juice, Soft Drinks, etc. Etching is much more of an issue with Marble than Granite.

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Mini pH Lesson:

What is pH ?

pH is the Unit of Measure used to express the degree of acidity of a substance.

The centimeter is a unit measure of length. The gram is a unit measure of weight. So, pH is the unit measure we use to say how much acid is in a substance. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14. A pH of 0 means a very high acid activity. Substances such as lemon juice and vinegar are acidic with pH values of 2 to 3. Nitric acid and hydrochloric acid are very strong with pH values of 0, while stomach acid has a pH of 1. Addition of a strong acid, such as sulfuric acid ( H2SO4 ) to water makes the resulting solution very high in active acid concentration. This is called an acidic solution.

On the other end of the scale are the alkaline substances, which range from 8 to 14. Common alkalis are seawater (pH 8), household ammonia (pH 11), oven cleaners (pH 13), and the very strong alkali, sodium hydroxide (pH 14). The addition of a strong base or alkali material, such as sodium hydroxide ( NaOH ), to water makes the resulting solution very low in active acid concentration. This is called a very basic or alkali solution.

In between these two extremes is a pH of 7. This is the pH of pure water. Water, which is neither very acidic nor very alkali, is said to be neutral.

Technically, the scale actually refers to the concentration of positively-charged hydrogen (H+) ions and negatively-charged hydroxyl (OH-) ions in solution. More hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions makes an acidic solution, while an alkaline solution contains more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen ions. The pH scale is a logarithmic one, meaning that each pH unit has 10 times as many hydrogen ions as the unit above it. So, at pH 4, there are 10 times more hydrogen ions than at pH 5 and 100 times more hydrogen ions than at pH 6.

The following table will give you an idea of the pH values of common substances:

pH Value

Stomach acid 1.0

Lemon Juice 2.4

Vinegar 2.8

Orange Juice 3.0

Tomato Juice 4.0

Black Coffee 5.0

Detergent 6.5

Milk 6.8

Blood 7.2

Baking soda 9.0

Domestic Bleach 11.0

Household Ammonia 11.0

(From General Chemistry by Brady and Humiston, 1986).

Interesting info, and it's great to know you can clean your granite with milk or blood ;)

Stuff I learned with just a little research

Your choices are Stone Cleaners or Surface Cleaners from your grocery store shelf that you have determined are pH neutral and contain no harmful ingredients. You can call the 800 number of the cleaner you are interested in and request an "MSDS", (Material Safety Data Sheet), to see what the ingredients are. Companies are required by law to provide an MSDS to anyone that asks. Sometimes you have to ask what the pH of the product is...the MSDS does not always list this. You can also usually find the MSDS on the product website.

I am currently using The Works Glass & Surface cleaner. I stopped using Green Windex because it contains a small amount of Ammonia. Probably not enough to matter, but The Works is totally Ammonia free. BTW, Formula 409 has a pH of 12!

Make your own!

Many people use a mixture of Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol, water and a drop or two of Dawn dish liquid to clean their counters. Isopropyl Alcohol has a pH of 7.0, and is the main ingredient in all stone cleaners I have researched. Note: Ethanol (denatured alcohol) is also used in making stone cleaning products.

The ratio of alcohol to water needed is minimal...I have heard people recommending as much as 40 - 50% alcohol to water, which is total overkill. Every MSDS for granite cleaner and other surface cleaners that I have looked up have alcohol in concentrations of .5 - 5%. You read that right - half a percent to five percent. (I think people use more because it just doesn't seem possible that so little would be effective.)

The other main ingredient is a surfactant, (Dawn, in the home made brew), which lowers the surface tension of a liquid, (in this case, water), so the product will spread more easily, as well as keep any debris in suspension so it is not deposited back onto the surface being cleaned. The third 'main' ingredient, (remember, the average cleaner is 97 - 98% water..), is some type of scent, I suspect to make the consumer feel they are getting something for their $2.49 ;)

So the choice is yours, buy or make your own - neither is better than the other except for price.

More Info

Antibactierial Properties:

"Isopropyl alcohol possesses weak antibacterial properties and is used to maintain instruments in a sterile condition and to clean the skin before minor surgery." (web snip)

I didn't take the time to look for more on antibacterial properties, but I have been cleaning my granite with alcohol based cleaners for almost two years and have had zero problems.

Granite and Bacteria

If you hear the myth that granite and other stones harbor bacteria, it came from a campaign by solid surface manufacturers and kitchen shops that sell Corian.

From the Stone Industry:

"Many myths and rumours surface every now and again concerning granite and particularly granite countertops. In the November 15, 2001 issue of STONE magazine, its Technical Editor, Fred Hueston decided to take the bull by the horns.

"There are many rumours circulating about the use of granite in our industry and many of them are simply untrue. Before I sat down to write this article I spent several hours on the Internet searching for information. I could not believe what I found. There are dozens of websites, which are distributing false information about the properties of granite.

The author lists a large number of alleged advantages claimed by the manufacturers of solid surfaces, which are generally a mixture of real stone in a matrix or polyester or acrylic resins, before going on to dispel major myths.

* Granite can harbour harmful bacteria! He points out that this is simply untrue and verified this fact with both the Center for Disease Control and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health who found no evidence of it.

*Granite contains harmful radon gases! We have reported on this issue at length in previous Granite Bulletins. This article includes substantive evidence showing that this is untrue and points out: In terms of building materials, radon emissions from concrete, cement and gypsum could be of greater concern."

FINAL NOTE I am not a stone expert, nor am I in the industry. Many people post questions here that I cannot answer. There are several Stone Forums on the web that have experts that will give advice.

As you come across these forums, please do a keyword search on the site first, and read the threads already posted. 99% of the time, your question has already been answered, and it is annoying for these experts to have to answer the same questions over and over. I have seen sites change to 'no public posting' because of this problem. And be sure and THANK anyone who answers your question on any forum you post to!
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