If you've ever seen a freshly buffed, polished and sealed granite countertop, you know that it looks like the most indestructible thing in the world. In fact, while granite is a tough, hardy material for countertops, the surface has to be regularly polished to keep that shine, and occasionally has to be buffed and re-sealed to take out scratches and prevent stains. Consult your countertop installer about where to get the right products, and carefully follow all instructions.
For routine maintenance polishing of a granite countertop that has been properly sealed and isn't damaged or scratched, start by cleaning the countertop with a mild household cleanser or diluted dishsoap. Rinse it well. Then mix a 50-50 solution of rubbing alcohol and warm water and put it in a spray bottle. Working in sections, spray the solution generously onto the countertop and immediately work the surface in swift circular motions with a clean white cloth.
For granite countertops with scratches or other damage to the surface (or which weren't initially ground down and buffed), buy or rent a hand-held power granite buffer. It will have a rotating pad to which you attach diamond-grit paper. Get a range of grits, starting at 50 grit, which is rough, and proceeding to 3,000 grit, which is very fine. The heavier grits take out the scratches, while the finer grits smooth and buff the shine back into the surface. Carefully follow the instructions. Generally, you'll apply water or a pre-mixed solution to the granite, buff it gently with one grit level, rinse, then repeat with a finer grit level. Follow up by sealing and polishing.
Granite is porous in its natural state, meaning it can absorb moisture and stains, so it's important that it be sealed for use on countertops. After buffing and before polishing, apply a granite sealant from your home improvement store or purchased online. Generally, it will be a spray solution that you apply to one section at a time, let sit so it can penetrate the stone, then wipe with a dry cloth.
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