What Causes Dull Spots on Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are popular in many homes due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and low maintenance. However, even these hardy surfaces can develop dull spots over time. Understanding what causes these blemishes is key to keeping your quartz looking its best. We will explore the various reasons you may notice dull areas on your countertop and provide tips for restoration and prevention.

Common Causes of Dullness on Quartz Surfaces

There are several potential culprits behind a loss of luster on quartz countertops:


Etching occurs when an acidic substance deteriorates the glossy top layer of the quartz. Citric acids commonly cause etching, including:

  • Lemon, lime, orange, and other citrus juices
  • Vinegars
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Tomato sauce
  • Some cleaning products

Spilled acidic foods and beverages can leave dull marks on quartz. If not promptly cleaned up, these spills can interact with the resin coating and permanently etch the material.

Etched spots often appear “whitish” or cloudy. They are usually more noticeable on darker quartz colors. Etching damage is irreversible, as the acidic substance permanently erodes the quartz.

Hard Water Stains

Mineral deposits from hard water can leave unsightly spots on quartz when allowed to accumulate. Calcium and magnesium are the main offenders.

As water evaporates, these minerals are left behind. Over time, a mineral film builds up causing discoloration and clouding.

Hard water stains often look like whitish marks but can also impart a yellow/orange tint. They are typically more diffuse than etching but affect the appearance in a similar way.

Oil and Grease Stains

Quartz is prone to oil staining. Greasy cooking splatters and spills, if not removed promptly, can seep into the surface leading to dark blotchy marks.

Oils from food, lotions, soaps, and other greasy products penetrate the resin coating leaving behind unsightly spots. Not only do they look bad, but they also attract more dirt and grime.

Soap Scum and Mineral Deposits

The minerals and fatty acids found in many soaps can accumulate on quartz surfaces. Soap scum stains often appear in areas frequently exposed to moisture like around the sink.

Mineral deposits from soap scum bind to the quartz leaving dull whitish spots. These stains worsen over time as more minerals build up.

Weathering from UV Exposure

Over many years, the ultraviolet light from the sun can gradually cause dulling and discoloration on quartz countertops. This effect is amplified in kitchens with abundant natural lighting.

Long-term UV exposure slowly degrades the pigments and resins in the quartz. This type of damage cannot be reversed but can be minimized by using window treatments.

Abrasions and Scratches

While quartz is very scratch resistant, it’s not completely impervious. Objects like sand, grit, and metals can abrade the surface leading to micro-scratches.

A cluster of minor scratches scatters light reflection resulting in dull splotchy areas. Individual scratches may not be visible, but accumulate to cause cloudiness. Daily wear and tear contribute over time.

Poor Quality Quartz

In some cases, dullness can stem from low-grade quartz prone to etching, staining, and wearing. Softer, lower purity quartz is more vulnerable to damage.

Budget quartz brands often cut corners resulting in an inferior material. These surfaces lose their luster much faster.

How to Remove Dull Spots on Quartz

Now that we’ve covered the common culprits, let’s discuss approaches for removing dull areas and restoring gloss:

Light Etching and Staining

Minor etching, water spots, soap scum, and oil stains can often be polished away with a little elbow grease. Use a soft cloth, sponge, or non-abrasive pad and gently scrub with a paste of baking soda and water. The mildly abrasive baking soda will buff out superficial dullness. Rinse well and dry completely.

For more stubborn spots, switch to a quartz polish or cleaner specifically formulated to remove stains, etches, and residues. Apply the product and rub vigorously with a soft cloth. Avoid abrasive scouring pads which could worsen scratches.

Be patient and repetitive with your polishing to achieve results. Test first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t further damage the finish.

Hard Water Stains

To treat persistent hard water marks, break out the white vinegar. The acidic vinegar helps dissolve mineral deposits. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar. Liberally spritz the stained area and let it sit for several minutes. Use a non-abrasive scrub pad or sponge with the vinegar to scrub away the stains. Repeat as needed until the minerals have lifted. Rinse thoroughly.

For extremely stubborn deposits, cover the stain with a towel soaked in vinegar. Allow it to sit for an hour before scrubbing. The prolonged contact time helps dissolve the minerals.

Grease and Oil Stains

Degrease oil stains with an ammonia-based cleaner (like Windex) or denatured alcohol. Check for colorfastness first. Apply the degreasing agent and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Rub gently with a non-abrasive pad to lift the oil residue. Rinse and dry completely afterward.

For tough oil stains, mix baking soda and ammonia into a spreadable paste. Cover the stain and allow it to sit for an hour or two before scrubbing clean. The baking soda provides extra cutting power.

Abrasions and Scratches

Superficial dullness from minor scratches can sometimes be polished out using baking soda and a soft cloth. Rub the baking soda in a circular motion applying moderate pressure. The light abrasion evens out the micro-scratches.

Be cautious not to worsen any deeper scratches. Baking soda can also be combined with a little water or lemon juice for extra polishing power.

Unfortunately, individual deep scratches and excessive abrasions cannot be repaired. At this point, the quartz needs professional resurfacing. Talk to a countertop installer about options.

UV Dulling

Nothing can reverse UV damage or aging. However, you can restore some gloss and hide discoloration with a good quartz-safe polish. Choose a polish that contains a brightener to dissolve the microscopic layer of aged resin. Apply polish and buff to a uniform sheen.

To prevent further UV dulling, limit sunlight exposure using window treatments. Also, regularly maintain polish to keep the resin coating intact.

Etching Damage

As mentioned earlier, true etching leads to permanent erosion of the quartz surface. The affected areas will remain permanently dull. Etched spots can sometimes be concealed by applying a quartz polish, but the damage cannot be fully repaired.

To prevent further etching, seal the surface with an etch protection treatment. Reapplying yearly will help repel acidic substances. Also, promptly clean up acidic spills before they have a chance to etch.

Low Quality Quartz

Dullness stemming from inferior materials also cannot be reversed. But you can temporarily revive the appearance with polishing. Opt for a product designed specifically for quartz, as it contains precise abrasives to provide shine without scratching.

Unfortunately, frequent polishing will be required to combat the rapid loss of luster. Long-term, a higher quality quartz will prove a better investment.

6 Tips for Preventing Dull Spots on Quartz

Consistency is key for preventing dull areas and maintaining the brilliant factory finish. Follow these best practices for keeping your countertops looking their best:

1. Clean up spills promptly.
Don’t allow liquids, especially acidic substances, to sit on quartz. Blot up spills immediately to avoid etching and staining.

2. Rinse cleaning residues.
Many cleaning chemicals can leave dulling film and deposits. Always rinse quartz thoroughly after cleaning.

3. Control humidity.
Excess moisture in the air can worsen soap scum buildup. Run exhaust fans during cooking and showering.

4. Polish regularly.
Every 3-6 months, polish the surface to maintain the protective coating. This guards against etching and dulling.

5. Avoid harsh chemicals.
Steer clear of corrosive cleaners like oven cleaners, drain cleaners, etc. Only use quartz-approved products.

6. Use a cutting board.
Prevent accidental scratches by always using a cutting board for food prep. Never cut directly on the counter.


Quartz countertops are prone to dulling from etching, hard water, grease, sun exposure, and wearing. By understanding the causes, you can better prevent and treat lackluster areas. For light damage, DIY polishing with baking soda or vinegar often does the trick. But deeper issues like etching or inferior materials may require replacements. With proper care, your quartz surfaces can maintain their luminous factory sheen for years.