Are Quartz Countertops Affected by Chemicals?

Quartz countertops have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and resistance to stains and scratches. However, some homeowners wonder if quartz counters are susceptible to damage from chemical products, such as cleaners, solvents, and cosmetics. This article will examine if quartz countertops are affected by chemicals and provide tips for protecting them.

What is Quartz?

Quartz countertops, sometimes called engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%, while resins make up the remaining 6-10%.

The resins bind the quartz particles together to form a durable, non-porous material. When the mixture is molded and cured under heat and pressure, it forms a slab that can be cut and fabricated into countertops.

Benefits of Quartz Countertops:

  • Extremely durable and scratch-resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Available in a wide range of colors and patterns
  • Non-porous so liquids don’t penetrate

Compared to natural stone like granite and marble, quartz counters are less prone to damage and staining. But does this mean they are unaffected by all chemicals?

Are Quartz Counters Prone to Chemical Damage?

While quartz countertops have excellent resistance to chemicals, they are not completely impervious. Prolonged exposure to some harsh chemicals, especially solvents, can damage or etch quartz surfaces.

Chemicals that may affect quartz:

  • Paint removers or strippers
  • Concentrated bleach or alkalis
  • Oven cleaners
  • Drain cleaners or products with high pH levels
  • Nail polish remover containing acetone
  • Solvents like turpentine, paint thinner, benzene
  • Battery acid or hydrofluoric acid

These types of chemicals can eat away at the resin binders in quartz and cause etching or whitish marks. Concentrated alkaline chemicals like oven cleaners can react with the quartz crystals and cause pitting or roughness.

Everyday products are usually fine:

However, quartz has excellent resistance to common household products like:

  • Vinegar, lemon juice, wine
  • Olive oil, cooking grease
  • Makeup, lotions, perfumes
  • Window cleaners, all-purpose cleaners
  • Dish soap, laundry detergent

When used occasionally and cleaned up promptly, these types of products will not harm or stain quartz surfaces.

Tips to Protect Quartz from Chemical Damage

While no material is 100% impervious, there are steps you can take to prevent chemical damage to quartz counters:

1. Avoid harsh chemicals and solvents

Do not allow products like oven cleaners, paint strippers, nail polish remover or drain cleaners to sit on quartz surfaces. Even a brief exposure can cause etching.

2. Use only recommended cleaners

Quartz manufacturers provide lists of recommended daily and deep cleaning products. Stick to gentle pH-neutral cleaners free of bleach, ammonia or acids.

3. Clean up spills quickly

Promptly wipe up any spills, especially from chemicals like wine, vinegar or acidic juices. Don’t allow them prolonged contact.

4. Never use abrasive pads or powders

Scouring pads, powders or rough sponges can dull and scratch quartz. Use only soft cloths, sponges and non-abrasive scrubbers.

5. Use trivets and hot pads

Place trivets or pads under hot pots and pans to prevent thermal shock. Sudden temperature changes can damage quartz.

6. Re-seal periodically

Quartz can be re-sealed every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer to reinforce stain protection. Consult your installer.

7. Get annual professional cleaning

Professional deep cleaning removes residues that everyday cleaners leave behind. Helps maintain the quartz’s beauty and durability.

With proper care, your quartz countertops should retain their durability, luster and chemical resistance for many years. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s care and maintenance guide. Avoid harming quartz with chemicals by following usage and cleaning best practices.

What Kind of Damage Can Chemicals Cause to Quartz?

Understanding how chemicals damage quartz can help you prevent issues:

Etching and Whitish Marks

Alkaline chemicals like oven cleaners, as well as acetone, bleach and acidic products can etch quartz surfaces. This causes visual whitish marks, roughness and loss of shine. The damage is permanent but can often be minimized by professional refinishing and re-polishing.

Pitting and Discoloration

Prolonged exposure to very alkaline chemicals can react with quartz crystals in the material’s matrix. This causes tiny pits, depressions and permanent discoloration. The damage cannot be repaired or hidden without replacing the countertop.

Staining and Discoloration

Some chemicals like ink, dyes or colored liquids might permanently stain quartz if not wiped up quickly. Though quartz resists staining, prolonged exposure to certain products can be absorbed into the material and cause stubborn stains.

Weakening of Resin Binders

Chemicals like paint removers, solvents and acids can gradually break down the resin binders that hold quartz particles together. This compromises durability and moisture resistance. Too much exposure to solvents can make quartz more prone to damage.

Loss of Shine and Luster

Frequent use of abrasive cleaners or scouring with rough materials will eventually dull and scratch quartz’s polished surface. This causes the material to appear worn and lose its shine and luster. Professional re-polishing is required to restore it.

To keep quartz looking its best, it’s vital to avoid prolonged chemical exposure and only use non-abrasive gentle cleaners. Immediately wiping spills prevents absorption or etching.

What Household Chemicals Should You Avoid With Quartz?

Quartz is durable against numerous common household products but it’s best to avoid certain harsh chemicals:

  • Oven or stovetop cleaners – Highly alkaline/caustic. Can etch and pit quartz.
  • Drain cleaners – Contain harsh lye, acids or alkaline salts. Use a small amount followed promptly by water rinses.
  • Rust removers – Include hydrofluoric, oxalic or phosphoric acid which can etch.
  • Nail polish remover – Acetone eats away resin binders leading to etching. Avoid all but weak acetone formulas.
  • Bleach and alkaline cleaners – Use only occasionally in dilution and rinse thoroughly after. Can react with quartz.
  • Tub & tile cleaners – Often have concentrated bleach, acids or harsh scrubbing grains. Use alternate gentle cleaners.
  • Abrasive scrubs and scouring powders – Gritty particles scratch; chemicals etch. Use non-abrasive soft scrub alternatives.
  • Solvents like paint thinner, turpentine – Can dissolve resin binders and damage the material over time. Avoid completely.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Can bubble or discolor quartz at high concentrations. Use only dilute solutions briefly.

With some basic precautions, quartz can be kept safe from damage while using common household cleaners and chemicals. Just take care to avoid harsh products and prolonged exposure.

What Cleaners are Safe for Quartz Countertops?

To safely and effectively clean quartz, always use gentle pH-neutral cleaners:

  • Mild dish soap – Great grease-cutting power but gentle on quartz. Good for regular use.
  • All-purpose cleaners – Choose options specially formulated for stone and quartz. Avoid oils, lemon, vinegar or bleach.
  • pH-neutral stone cleaners – Made for natural stone but ideal for quartz too. Won’t etch or react.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Diluted to no more than 3% concentration, it helps whiten quartz. Rinse thoroughly after use.
  • Baking soda – A mild abrasive that cleans without scratching. Mix with water into a paste for scrubbing.
  • Glass cleaner – Removes surface dirt and residues nicely. Check labels and avoid types with ammonia.
  • Dishwasher detergent – Though quartz itself is not dishwasher safe, the detergent can be used to gently clean counters.
  • Rubbing alcohol – Helps remove dried spills and sticky residues without damaging quartz.

Always avoid abrasive pads, scouring powders or anything that can scratch. Even soft scrub products may contain gritty substances or chemicals too harsh for quartz. Play it safe by using the gentlest cleaners formulated for the material.

Can You Use Vinegar, Citrus or Wine to Clean Quartz?

Despite quartz’s durability, you should take precautions when using acidic products to clean:

  • Vinegar – It typically won’t etch quartz with brief exposure. Use diluted white vinegar and limit contact to just a few minutes before rinsing. Never use longer than the manufacturer recommends.
  • Lemon juice – Has a very low pH and high acid content. Avoid using lemon juice as a cleaner. Promptly wipe any accidental exposure.
  • Wine – Red wine in particular can potentially stain quartz if not cleaned shortly after spilling. Use diluted hydrogen peroxide if stains develop.
  • Citrus-based cleaners – Many contain lemon, lime or grapefruit juice which are highly acidic. Read labels carefully and don’t allow prolonged exposure or contact.
  • Tomato sauce – Can temporarily stain quartz if left to dry. Contain acids so promptly clean any spills or splatters.

Though acidic cleaners may effectively remove some messes, it’s best to play it safe and not allow prolonged exposure. Stick to gentle pH-neutral cleaners designed for stone and quartz.

How to Clean Quartz Countertops

Follow these steps for safe routine cleaning and maintenance of quartz counters:

For everyday cleaning:

  • Wipe with soft microfiber cloth or sponge and a small amount of mild non-abrasive cleaner or soap and warm water.
  • Rinse thoroughly afterwards and dry with a clean towel to prevent water marks.
  • For dried spills, soak a non-abrasive scrub pad in warm water and gently rub. Avoid excessive scrubbing pressure.

For deep cleaning:

  • Clean the entire surface with a stone-safe cleaner or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  • Use a non-abrasive scrub pad with plenty of water. Scrub lightly in a circular motion.
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry completely.

For stubborn stains:

  • Try a paste of baking soda and water. Let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing gently.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges can lift stains with light scrubbing. Be careful not to rub too aggressively.
  • For extreme cases, use a white household vinegar and water mix. Limit exposure to 5 minutes before rinsing.

Important Don’ts:

  • No bleach, alkaline, acidic or abrasive cleaners.
  • No scouring powders, rough scrub pads or brushes.
  • No solvents like acetone, paint remover or thinners.
  • No oven cleaners or descalers which often contain lye.

Regular cleaning is essential for both appearance and longevity of quartz counters. The key is using only gentle, non-abrasive cleaners recommended for the material.

Does Sealing Quartz Counters Help Protect From Chemicals?

Sealing is an optional step that can provide added protection:

  • Quartz is non-porous so liquids don’t penetrate, but sealing gives an extra layer of defense.
  • Sealers fill in microscopic pores that develop over time from regular use. This helps prevent stains.
  • The sealer repels moisture and spills so they are less likely to soak in or react with the quartz.
  • Sealing minimizes etching from acidic substances like wine, vinegar or citrus. Reduces chemical absorption.
  • Stain resistance is enhanced by the sealer’s barrier which causes liquids to bead up. Easier to wipe away.
  • Abrasion resistance improves as the sealer helps prevent scratching and dulling from regular use.

Re-application every 1-2 years will renew quartz’s protective seal. Be sure to use a sealer specifically formulated for quartz and stone surfaces. Read the product directions carefully before use.

Will Accidental Damage to Quartz Counters Require Replacement?

In most cases damaged quartz does NOT require full replacement:

  • Etching and scratches – Can often be repaired by a professional fabricator or refinisher. They polish out defects and restore the surface.
  • Chips or minor impacts – Can usually be filled then buffed smooth.matching filler material is used.
  • Isolated stains – May be able to be removed with an intensive deep cleaning or refinishing.
  • General wear and dullness – Professional polishing/refinishing restores the glossy appearance of worn quartz.
  • Heat or scorch damage – Affected area can sometimes be cut out and replaced with an identical quartz inlay.

However, extensive damage may be too difficult or costly to repair:

  • Deep scratches or gouges affecting large areas.
  • Multiple burn marks from very hot pans.
  • Pervasive stains that penetrate throughout the material.
  • Etching, pitting or discoloration from prolonged chemical exposure.

Consult a professional fabricator if your quartz sustains any significant damage. Provide photos and get their advice on repair options before replacing the whole counter.

What Chemicals are Used to Make Quartz Countertops?

While the main component is natural quartz mineral, the manufacturing process utilizes other chemicals:

  • Pigments – Added for color. Metal oxide pigments provide earth tones while synthetic pigments create bright hues.
  • Resin binders – Unsaturated polyester polymer resins bind quartz particles. Epoxy resins help form the material.
  • Catalysts – Speed up solidification and curing. Examples are organic peroxides such as methyl ethyl ketone peroxide.
  • Filler powders – Reinforce the material’s strength. Talc or calcium carbonate fillers enhance durability.
  • Texturizing agents – Materials like polyester fibers give some quartz surfaces added dimension.
  • Curing agents – Chemicals that help complete the heat curing process. Anti-mold agents prevent future mold growth.

Concerns sometimes arise over chemicals like resin, catalysts and pigments leaching from quartz counters. However, finished quartz products meet health and safety standards for these trace chemicals.

Are There Health Concerns Related to Quartz Countertop Chemicals?

According to research, quartz counters meet safety limits for chemical exposure when properly manufactured:

  • Quartz surfaces are cured at high heat. This converts resins and catalysts into inert polymers, locking them into the material.
  • Trace chemicals must meet regulatory limits. Quartz manufacturers must comply with voluntary safety standards.
  • EPA studies detected little to no VOC emissions. Evaluation of radon and radiation found levels similar to background.
  • Some claims target specific chemicals like crystalline silica. But studies show it is only concerning from inhaling dust when cutting/grinding quartz.
  • Installed and finished quartz counters are considered safe. They do not pose chemical exposure risks for consumers.

Always work safely when cutting, grinding or fabricating quartz to limit dust inhalation. When installed, quartz counters are low risk for chemical leaching or off-gassing according to current research. Talk to your provider if you have any concerns.

Is There a Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops?

It’s important to distinguish between the terms quartz and quartzite:

  • Quartz countertops are engineered surfaces made from ground quartz bound with resins.
  • Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made of naturally occurring quartz. It is mined in slabs for countertops.


  • Both are composed primarily of quartz mineral.
  • Offer durability and scratch resistance.
  • Provide a wide choice of colors and patterns.
  • Work well for kitchens and bathrooms.


  • Quartzite is completely natural while quartz is engineered.
  • Quartzite is more prone to staining and etching from acids.
  • Quartz is less porous than natural quartzite.
  • Quartz usually offers more vivid colors and bold patterns.
  • Quartzite requires more frequent sealing.

Both provide appealing options. Quartzite brings the beauty of a natural stone while quartz offers diverse modern styles. Durability is excellent but quartz is lower maintenance.

Is There a Safe Way to Remove Glued-Down Quartz Countertops?

Quartz countertops are typically installed over wood base cabinets using adhesive and some mechanical fasteners. While not easy, they can be removed safely:

  • Wear protective equipment – gloves, goggles, mask to avoid dust inhalation.
  • Locate and remove any screws, braces or brackets.
  • Use a multi-tool oscillator to slowly cut along the seam between the quartz and cabinet. Take care not to damage the cabinets.
  • Starting at a corner, carefully pry up the countertop while continually cutting the adhesive beneath. Work in small