Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces made from natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. Their durability and low maintenance make them popular choices for kitchen and bathroom countertops. However, like any surface, quartz countertops require occasional cleaning to keep them looking their best. Some homeowners wonder if harsh cleaners like bleach can be used safely on quartz. Here is what you need to know about using bleach to clean quartz countertops.
What is Bleach and How Does it Work?
Bleach is a common household cleaner used to whiten fabrics, remove stains, and disinfect surfaces. The active ingredient in most bleaches is sodium hypochlorite, which breaks down when mixed with water to release hypochlorous acid and oxygen molecules. This reaction is what gives bleach its whitening and disinfecting abilities.
The oxygen molecules oxidize and destroy organic materials like stains, mold, and bacteria. However, this same reaction can also damage many household surfaces with prolonged exposure. Bleach can gradually break down materials like natural stone, plastics, metals, and even quartz.
Can You Use Bleach on Quartz Countertops?
Most manufacturers do not recommend using bleach or other harsh disinfectants on quartz surfaces. While quartz isresistant to stains and etching from acidic foods, prolonged exposure to oxidizing cleaners like bleach can damage the material.
The resins that bind the quartz particles together are susceptible to gradual discoloration and erosion with repeated bleach exposure. This can lead to a dull, faded appearance over time. Bleach can also react with pigments, causing discoloration of the quartz surface.
Best Practices for Cleaning Quartz Countertops
Here are some best practices for safely and effectively cleaning quartz countertops without bleach:
- For routine cleaning, use a mild soap and water solution. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Disinfect surfaces with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or ammonia-free glass cleaner.
- For stuck-on messes, use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad and baking soda paste.
- Remove grease buildup with an all-purpose cleaner or degreasing dish soap.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to acids like lemon juice or wine. Rinse spills quickly.
- Reseal quartz countertops every 1-2 years with a penetrating stone sealer.
- Always blot spills quickly and avoid letting liquids pool on the surface.
alternatives to bleach
If you need to disinfect your quartz countertops, there are several effective bleach alternatives:
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant that breaks down into water and oxygen. It kills bacteria, viruses, and molds without damaging quartz. Mix a 3% solution with water and spray onto the countertop. Allow to sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a soft cloth.
Plain white distilled vinegar is another eco-friendly disinfectant for quartz. It helps kill bacteria, mold, and germs due to its acetic acid content. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and wipe over the countertop with a soft cloth. Rinse thoroughly. Avoid prolonged exposure to avoid etching.
70% Isopropyl Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a fast-evaporating disinfectant safe for use on quartz surfaces. It kills many common germs without leaving a harsh chemical residue. Pour some onto a soft cloth and wipe over the entire countertop. Allow to air dry. Repeat if needed.
Tea Tree Oil
For a natural disinfectant, add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well and spray onto quartz counters. Wipe clean with a soft cloth after several minutes. Do not leave tea tree oil on surfaces for prolonged periods.
When to Call a Professional
If you have stubborn stains, etching, or other damage that won’t come clean with regular methods, call a professional quartz countertop cleaner. They have access to more powerful cleaners that can safely remove buildup without harming quartz. For deep scratches or other physical damage, you may need a countertop repair specialist.
While bleach may seem like an easy way to clean and disinfect quartz surfaces, it can actually damage materials over time. For routine cleaning, stick to mild detergents and soft cloths. For occasional disinfecting, use natural options like hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. With some care, your beautiful quartz countertops will retain their like-new appearance for many years.