Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

I Tried Dozens of Methods to Clean Kitchen Counters — This Is the One I’m Excited About

A kitchen counter is more than just a surface for cooking and meal preparation. In many homes, the kitchen counter serves as the primary workhorse. It’s where we place the day’s mail and where kids do their homework. It’s also where I fold clothes, daydream and make big plans. On cooking days, my counters endure various forms of abuse, including splattered ingredients, crumbs and more. No wonder our kitchen counters get icky, sticky, smudged, dull and downright skanky.

Faithful readers will recall that over the years, I’ve shared numerous recipes, methods and directives for cleaning and maintenance of countertops — granite, quartz, laminate (Formica), marble, slate, soapstone, Corian, ceramic tile and even well-finished wood — each with its specific do’s and don’ts. While all of that still holds true, it can be very confusing.

Good news. We can dump all of that in favor of just one method that is 100% safe for all types of counter materials. Even better, it’s quick, easy and foolproof, with sparkling, streak-free results.

Homemade Counter Cleaner: Pour 1 part Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid into bottle or other similar container. Add 10 parts tap water. Mix gently to combine.

OR just eyeball it: Pour Blue Dawn in the container to about 1 inch or so in depth. Fill the rest of the way with tap water. Mix gently to combine.

— Clear the counter of everything that is readily moveable.

— With a dry cloth (your hand, a sponge, your dirty apron — whatever is handy), sweep all crumbs and loose debris into the sink or trash.

— Flood (splash, pour) the countertop with cleaner (not so much as to run off onto the floor; be generous but take it easy!)

— Using a circular motion and a good sponge (like a blue nonscratching Scotch-Brite scrubbing sponge), go over every square millimeter bit of the counter, making sure you’ve removed all the sticky spots and dried-on glops.

— Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes while you do something else, like clean and shine the sink. The powerful surfactants in the Blue Dawn, even though highly diluted, are hard at work to soften and break down the counter crud.

— Open up a good microfiber cloth to its full size and lay it right down right over the soapy surface at one end of the counter.

— Using both hands car wash-style, start wiping away. I use an up-and-down, slight zig-zag pattern. This way, I get a little workout while requiring only one pass to completely remove all of the liquid. The microfiber will absorb all of the soap and counter crud, leaving the counter squeaky clean and dry. No rinsing necessary.

Blue Dawn, a product of Procter & Gamble, was introduced in 1973. Since then, it has gone through several tweaks, changes and upgrades so that today we see a number of varieties including Dawn Ultra and Dawn Platinum. According to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, Blue Dawn is biodegradable and contains no phosphates.

The Ultra version is highly concentrated. Dawn Platinum contains enzymes to help break down tough, cooked-on foods, and that “original” refers to the scent from the original Blue Dawn 1973 product.

Does any of this matter when it comes to the amazing ways Dawn can be used so effectively outside the kitchen? Probably not. But does the color matter? Yes. Blue Dawn’s formula is a highly guarded and proprietary trade secret. Other colors of Dawn do not have the same level of surfactants, which make them less effective. My best sources assure me that Blue Dawn has superior surfactants in both quality and quantity, which make it superior to all other competitors.

When a container of Blue Dawn has Ultra, Platinum, 2X, 4X or even 5X on the label, it’s highly concentrated so you can use less.

This method is completely safe for natural stone counters such as granite. It will not remove or damage the sealant applied to granite or other natural stone products such as slate, terrazzo or even marble. However, it is important to remember that any sealant on a stone product like granite is not permanent. Over time, the sealant will wear away, which is why manufacturers recommend resealing annually. You can easily do this yourself by purchasing sealant from reputable home centers like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

For more details plus photos of me using this method on my quartz counter, go to EverydayCheapskate.com/counter.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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