Quartz countertops are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their durability, low maintenance, and attractive appearance.
While they are relatively easy to clean, it’s important to use the right products to avoid damaging the surface whilst still considering environmental effects.
In this article, we’ll provide you with 4 natural cleaning solutions that are safe for your quartz countertops.
What Qualifies as “Natural” Cleaners?
The term “natural” is often used to describe products that contain ingredients derived from plants, animals, minerals, or other natural sources.
However, according to the FDA, there is no legal definition of what constitutes a “natural” cleaner.
The FDA enforces the same regulations on products, regardless of whether the ingredients are natural or synthetic.
It’s essential to understand that just because a product is made from natural ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe, eco-friendly, or effective.
One example of a cleaning product that is natural but can cause environmental damage is citrus-based cleaners.
These cleaners often contain natural solvents, such as limonene, that are derived from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
While these solvents are effective in cutting through grease and grime, they can also be harmful to the environment.
When these cleaners are washed down the drain, the natural solvents can enter the water supply and harm aquatic life.
Limonene, for example, is toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms and can cause respiratory problems if inhaled.
Conversely, traditional soap-making involves the combination of fats or oils and an alkali, such as lye (also known as sodium hydroxide), to form crude soap.
Some might argue that since there is a chemical element to soap, this makes it unnatural.
However, modern sodium hydroxide is actually a derivative of salt brine or rock salt, in other words, a natural product.
But equally as important, we also know that no sodium hydroxide is left over in the final product after the soap-making process is complete.
We can still consider the final product, i.e., soap, as natural, and we know it is a safe-to-use and effective cleaner (more on eco-friendly soaps here).
Do Quartz Countertops Need Special Cleaners?
According to Royal Stone Care, a specialist in stone cleaning, quartz countertops are relatively low maintenance and don’t require special cleaners unless specified by the manufacturer.
They do recommend, however, avoiding harsh products such as:
- hydrochloric acid
- Caustic soda
- Paint stripper
Such products can damage the quartz surface or affect the sealant protecting it.
The sealant for quartz countertops is a protective coating that is applied to the surface of the countertop to help prevent stains, scratches, and other forms of damage.
The sealant is usually a clear, thin layer that is applied after the countertop is installed and has been cleaned and dried.
The exact composition of the sealant can vary depending on the manufacturer, but it is typically a type of resin that is formulated to bond with the quartz surface and create a protective barrier.
While quartz countertops are durable and resistant to stains and scratches, they are not entirely impervious.
Also, it’s important to note that not all quartz countertops require a sealant.
Some manufacturers produce quartz countertops that are inherently resistant to stains and scratches, and these may not require a sealant.
However, even if your quartz countertop doesn’t require a sealant, it’s still important to clean it regularly to help maintain its appearance and prolong its lifespan.
Stubborn stains may require different cleaning products, which we discuss below.
However, it’s crucial to seek specialist advice before using anything other than mild cleaners.
4 Natural Cleaners for Quartz Countertops
1. Plant-based Soap
Nature or plant-based soaps can be made from biodegradable and renewable ingredients, resulting in reduced environmental impact and a lower carbon footprint.
They are also generally free of harsh chemicals and toxins, making them safer for the environment and human health.
Additionally, plant-based soaps are often produced using sustainable farming and manufacturing practices and can be used for multiple cleaning tasks, reducing the need for multiple cleaning products and minimizing waste.
Of course, as we’ve alluded to above, being natural or plant-based doesn’t always guarantee environmental advantages.
You should always check the ingredients to ensure that the product is eco-friendly, safe, and effective.
For instance, to determine if your soap is natural, examine the label for specific ingredients.
Plant-based soaps typically include vegetable oils, glycerin, and natural colorants or fragrances.
Look for certifications such as USDA Organic to ensure that the soap has met certain standards for natural and ethical ingredients.
Next, to clean quartz countertops with plant-based soap:
- Mix a small amount with warm water in a spray bottle or container.
- Apply the solution to the countertop and use a soft sponge to scrub gently in circular motions. Avoid using abrasive tools that can scratch the quartz.
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water and repeat, then dry with a soft cloth.
2. Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda is another name for sodium bicarbonate, a natural mineral salt.
In order to activate baking soda, it must be combined with a liquid such as water or vinegar.
When combined with water, sodium bicarbonate will act as a mild alkaline abrasive, which is effective in cleaning stains and residue.
Slightly different but equally as effective, when combined with vinegar, the alkalinity of sodium bicarbonate is neutralized by the acid of the vinegar.
A chemical reaction is triggered in which the acid of the vinegar gets converted into carbon dioxide, and this helps to lift dirt and grime trapped on surfaces.
The EPA has found no evidence that suggests that it is anything but safe and environmentally-friendly in low concentrations.
Baking soda is biodegradable, can be used for multiple purposes, and is very affordable.
In fact, a WE forum report highlights that the components that form bicarbonate soda may even be efficacious in carbon storage.
Here’s how you can use it:
- Mix baking soda and water to form a paste.
- Apply the paste to any stains or marks on the quartz surface.
- Scrub the stains gently with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.
- Let the paste sit on the stains for a few minutes.
- Wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth, and then dry with a clean, dry cloth.
On a side note – keep in mind that baking soda is alkaline, which means it can damage the quartz surface if left on for too long.
Be sure to rinse the surface thoroughly after cleaning with baking soda, and avoid using it on polished or sealed quartz surfaces, as it can cause discoloration.
3. Vinegar and Water
Vinegar is derived from the fermentation of plants such as grains, vegetables, and fruit.
Much like alcohol, it goes through a process where yeast feeds on the extracted starch or sugar of these plants.
This converts the sugar and starch into ethanol which is then added to bacteria called Acetobacter.
As acetobacter oxidizes the alcohol, it produces acetic acid, which is the primary component of vinegar.
When vinegar is made using this process, it can be considered natural and eco-friendly.
However, as illustrated by Clear Cause Cleaners, an environmental cleaning agency, this is only when the vinegar is derived from plant-based sources.
Unfortunately, some cheaper forms of vinegar are made from petrochemicals.
Synthetic vinegar, for instance, skips the fermentation process, adding chemically manufactured acetic acid to water.
Chemically made acetic acid, according to research, will often use petrochemical-derived hydrocarbons, such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
And as a result, it can contribute to environmental degradation through oil spills, air pollution, greenhouse gasses, and ecosystem harm.
Many companies still produce vinegar made from grains, which is more expensive but worth the cost when considering the environmental impact, but it is worth checking that your vinegar brand is natural before you start cleaning.
Vinegar can be used to clean quartz surfaces, as it can disinfect and remove hard-to-clean stains like rust stains and odors.
When using vinegar on quartz countertops:
- Mix white or apple cider vinegar with warm water and use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the surface of the quartz.
- Make sure to rinse off the vinegar solution properly and not leave it on the surface for too long, as it can corrode the quartz.
- Dry with a soft, non-abrasive cloth.
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is derived from diluted ethanol-based liquid or isopropyl alcohol.
The main difference between the two is their chemical structure. Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, has two carbon atoms, whereas isopropyl alcohol has three carbon atoms.
In terms of their effectiveness as disinfectants, both ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are effective against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, which makes them an effective cleaning option without damaging your quartz countertops.
Unfortunately, both options can be derived from fossil fuels, but generally speaking, ethanol is the more environmentally friendly of the two.
For instance, ethanol can be natural when derived from plant-based substances such as corn and crop residue.
In fact, the US Department of Energy highlights that corn-based ethanol reduces carbon emissions by as much as 40% and is biodegradable, making it a good alternative if you need a strong disinfectant.
To use rubbing alcohol:
- Dilute the rubbing alcohol with water. It’s best to use a solution that’s 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water to avoid damaging the quartz surface.
- Spray or apply the solution onto the quartz surface using a clean cloth or spray bottle.
- Use a non-abrasive cloth to wipe the surface gently, ensuring that you cover all areas of the quartz countertop.
- After wiping the surface, rinse it with clean water to remove any remaining alcohol solution.
- Dry the quartz surface using a clean towel or cloth.
Important: Keep in mind when using rubbing alcohol, it should never be mixed with bleach or other cleaning agents, as this can produce toxic fumes.