(The following science experiment is performed by trained professionals in a very scientific setting. Please do not attempt at home.)

Someone call Bill Nye, because we’re going to do some science!

It’s pretty common knowledge that while stone makes some of the most durable and beautiful countertop surfaces, if you really try, it IS possible to damage them in different ways. If you’ve ever been curious about what it really takes to damage stone, you’ve come to the right place! While we’ll likely touch on impact/heat damage in an upcoming post, today we’re looking at stains.

For the purposes of this experiment we pulled out three different stones to test. One white quartz sample and 2 different lighter-coloured granite samples (Fantasy Brown on the left, and Alaska White on the right). We also gathered a few of the top offenders when it comes to stone countertop stains to see what would stain the stone and also, if it was possible to lift the stain using standard cleaning products.

stain testing stone countertops

As you can see in the picture above, we dabbed, drizzled, scrawled and painted our stain-makers onto the stone and left it sitting there for approximately 48 hours to let them do their work. (From top to bottom: tomato paste, red wine, grape juice, Sharpie marker, lemon, nail polish)


stains kitchen stone countertops

48 hours later we had a dried-up caked-on mess. Everything looked a little gross, (except for the sharpie and nail polish, probably because the stone got out of dish washing duties). We cleaned it all up with a wet cloth to see what stayed after a basic wipe. 

stains on custom stone

Here are our highly scientific observations about the stone countertop stains:

Tomato paste: peeled off in one dried-up piece, with no visible residue on either the white quartz sample or the Alaska White granite. There remained a very slight residue/etching mark on the Fantasy Brown granite, but it was only visible at certain angles.

Red Wine: no effect whatsoever on the white quartz sample, very slight ghosting stains on both granite samples.

Grape Juice: obvious stain left on Fantasy Brown granite, a faint discoloration on the white quartz and some staining in certain lighter-coloured veins of the Alaska White.

Sharpie Marker: came completely off the Alaska White sample with water, and lightened significantly on the Fantasy Brown granite. Did not budge in the slightest on the white quartz.

Lemon: left an odd, etched, “crackle finish” on the Fantasy Brown granite. No effect whatsoever on either the white quartz or the Alaska White granite sample.

Nail Polish: no change with water (as one would expect).

Well, we definitely had some stains, so now what? How does one lift stains from stone countertops?

The nail polish was up first. We weren’t yet sure there would be any staining, because the polish itself didn’t come off with water, but we weren’t sure how nail polish remover would affect the quartz or the granite. Using a standard acetone-based polish remover, the dark nail polish lifted right off, and after a quick wipe with a wet cloth there was no visible effect from either the polish or the remover.

removing stains on countertops

For the other stains we pulled out our trusty “Bar Keepers Friend”. If you have stone countertops in your kitchen and bathroom, this is a worthwhile cleaning supply to pick up. It’s abrasive without scratching and works well on a variety of surfaces (but do yourself a favour and get a jar or something to keep it in. Whoever came up with the “lets put a sticker over the holes of a powdered cleaner” thing shouldn’t be in product package design. The sticker won’t ever stick again once you’ve used it).

We wiped the stone with water and then sprinkled some of the Bar Keepers Friend on the stains and went to work. The sharpie disappeared with a bit of elbow grease, as did all of the other ghosting stains and residues. The only stains this product did not lift were the grape juice on the Fantasy Brown granite and also the lemon juice mark (Though that appears to be more like a physical change to the stone than a stain).

stains on custom stone countertops

While some people recommend using a poultice of Bar Keepers Friend and water on stubborn stains, we tried that and there was no discernible difference between that and using it dry… though we didn’t leave it on terribly long. If you’re running out of options, it might be worth leaving it longer to see if it helps.

So what did we learn?

Stone testing

While stone countertops, both quartz and granite, are pretty impervious to staining… prevention is the key. Had any of these stains been wiped up right away, there would have been no staining at all. Giving the grape juice time to soak in was the downfall of our granite countertops. While we don’t recommend getting too close to stone surfaces with Sharpie markers, a little elbow grease made the most stubborn marks disappear pretty easily.

Don’t forget, if you’re ever faced with a stain and you’re not sure what to do, you are always welcome to call and ask for help.

Hopefully our little experiment served to instill confidence in the durability of granite and quartz countertops, so you feel confident using them in your kitchen or bathroom. With just a little care, stone countertops will look beautiful and serve you well for decades. We had so much fun with our experiment that we’re planning another one to test for heat and impact damage. Stay tuned!

If you’re considering stone for your next kitchen or bathroom remodel, contact us! We’d love to help.