Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Known for their stylish appearance, durability, and low maintenance, quartz counters are prized for their many advantages over natural stone and other materials. One common question that arises regarding quartz is whether these countertops have antimicrobial properties. Below, we’ll explore what makes a surface antimicrobial, examine the evidence on quartz’s germ-fighting abilities, and provide tips on keeping your quartz counters hygienic.
What Does Antimicrobial Mean?
Antimicrobial refers to anything that can kill or inhibit the growth and spread of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. An antimicrobial surface contains antimicrobial agents that are incorporated into the material during manufacturing. These agents work to destroy and prevent the reproduction of microbials that come into contact with the surface.
There are a few ways that countertops and other materials can have antimicrobial properties:
- Silver ion technology – Tiny particles of silver are embedded in the material. Silver interferes with the cellular processes of microbes, deactivating and killing them.
- Microbe-resistant chemicals – Substances like triclosan or zinc pyrithione are added to hinder microbial growth.
- Nanoparticle coatings – Nanoscale particles of silver, titanium dioxide, or other antimicrobial metals are coated on the surface. The particles rupture cell walls on contact.
- Integrated antibacterials – Some materials like solid surfaces have antibacterial substances mixed directly into the resin.
For a surface to be considered truly antimicrobial, it needs to actively kill microorganisms quickly and continuously. Antimicrobial efficiency is measured based on the log reduction of bacteria after 24 hours, with a 3 to 4 log reduction considered effective.
Are Quartz Countertops Naturally Antimicrobial?
Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz aggregate held together with polymer resins and pigments. Natural quartz does not contain any inherent antimicrobial properties. However, some quartz manufacturers add antimicrobial chemicals like Microban® to the resin to enhance the germ-resistance of the finished material.
Without the addition of antimicrobial agents, quartz countertops on their own are no better at inhibiting microbial growth than other countertop materials. Quartz is an inert, non-porous surface that deters bacteria from penetrating into the countertop, but does not actively kill microbes sitting on the surface.
Which Quartz Countertops Are Antimicrobial?
While pure natural quartz lacks antimicrobial abilities, many quartz countertop brands integrate antimicrobial technology during fabrication:
- Caesarstone – Certain Caesarstone quartz products contain Microban® antimicrobial product protection added to the polymer resin. Lab tests show Microban reduces Staph and E. coli bacteria on the surface by up to 99.9%.
- Cambria – Their quartz counters use a silver ion antimicrobial treatment called Sanitized®. Independent studies verify Sanitized quartz surfaces continue killing bacteria even after multiple cleanings.
- Silestone – Silestone integrates an antibacterial and antifungal additive called Microban into all its quartz counters during production. This provides constant surface protection against a broad spectrum of microbes.
- LG Viatera – LG adds an integrated antimicrobial agent directly into the quartz resin. The antimicrobial protection does not wash away and lasts for the life of the product.
- Quartzforms – They incorporate an EPA-registered antibacterial called Ultrafresh© to their quartz to inhibit bacterial odor and staining. Ultrafresh shields against microbes like salmonella, listeria, and staph.
Other quartz brands like Cosentino and DuPont Zodiaq do not actively market their materials as antimicrobial. Without advertised antimicrobial treatments, these basic quartz counters likely do not provide any significant germ-fighting benefits.
How Effective Are Antimicrobial Quartz Countertops?
Independent lab testing shows that antimicrobial quartz countertops are effective at minimizing bacteria on contact. However, the strength and longevity of the antimicrobial protection depends on the specific technology used:
- Quartz with Microban can continuously suppress bacterial growth, achieving a consistent 2 to 3 log reduction of microbes. Microban inhibits the reproduction of bacteria cells, though it may take longer to achieve a complete kill.
- Silver ion infused quartz like that made by Cambria delivers strong, immediate antimicrobial potency. Direct contact with silver particles penetrates cell membranes and causes rapid bactericidal effects, reaching over 99% disinfection within hours. However, the antimicrobial efficacy may decrease over time as silver ions are released during cleanings.
- Integrated antibacterial resins provide good short-term kill rates soon after installation. However, the antimicrobial agents mixed into the resin may slowly leach as they come into contact with liquids. The germ-fighting properties deplete over years of use.
Though antimicrobial quartz counters reduce bacteria, they are not foolproof. Dirty surfaces can still transmit germs despite antimicrobial treatments. And viruses like cold and flu are not as susceptible to antimicrobials designed to target bacteria. Proper cleaning is key for sanitization.
Tips for Keeping Quartz Countertops Hygienic
While antimicrobial quartz counters provide an added layer of defense against bacteria, they are not completely germ-proof. Follow these tips to keep quartz surfaces clean and hygienic:
- Clean regularly – Wipe down quartz thoroughly after meal prep and use. Don’t allow food residue, oils, and liquids to linger.
- Sanitize with bleach – Occasionally disinfect quartz with a diluted bleach solution. Bleach kills bacteria missed by normal cleaning.
- Avoid cross-contamination – Use separate cutting boards for meats and other foods. Keep pet supplies off quartz surfaces.
- Repair damages – Scratches, chips, and cracks can harbor germs, so promptly fix any damages.
- Reseal surfaces – Reapply sealants every 1-2 years if needed to prevent liquids from seeping into seams.
- Get professional cleaning – Seek deep cleaning services once a year to remove built-up grime antimicrobials can’t reach.
With proper care and maintenance, antimicrobial quartz countertops provide long-lasting resistance to bacteria growth. But no surface is 100% germ-proof, so combine antimicrobial quartz with good hygiene habits for the cleanest and healthiest countertops.
Frequently Asked Questions About Antimicrobial Quartz Countertops
What makes quartz countertops antimicrobial?
Some quartz manufacturers add antimicrobial substances like Microban or silver nanoparticles to the resin used to make quartz countertops. These agents inhibit the growth and kill bacteria on contact with the countertop surface.
Do all quartz countertops have antimicrobial properties?
No, antimicrobial protection is not inherently a feature of all quartz counters. Only quartz brands that actively promote antimicrobial technology have taken steps to enhance the germ-fighting abilities of their products.
How long does the antimicrobial protection last?
It depends on the antimicrobial agent used. Microban provides more permanent, long-lasting antimicrobial benefits. Silver ions offer potent initial kill strength, but the antimicrobial effects may gradually deplete over time.
Can you add antimicrobial treatment to an existing quartz countertop?
Not easily. Antimicrobial substances need to be integrated into the countertop material during manufacturing. It is difficult to retroactively add effective antimicrobial properties to an already installed quartz counter.
Do antimicrobial quartz counters need less cleaning?
No, you still need to thoroughly clean and occasionally disinfect your quartz counters. Antimicrobial treatments help reduce bacteria growth between cleanings but are not a substitute for diligent cleaning habits.
With the addition of antimicrobial additives, many popular quartz countertop brands provide a level of surface protection against microbes like bacteria and fungi. Antimicrobial quartz counters inhibit the spread of germs and reduce the risk of cross-contamination. While no surface is 100% germ-proof, antimicrobial quartz combines stylish good looks with an added layer of hygienic defense. Following proper cleaning and use guidelines will keep your quartz counters looking beautiful while optimizing the germ-fighting benefits.