Quartz countertops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance. However, some homeowners report issues with unpleasant odors coming from their quartz countertops. There are several potential causes for a smelly quartz countertop and solutions to eliminate the odor.
Common Causes of Odor in Quartz Countertops
One of the most common reasons quartz countertops develop a smell is retained moisture. Quartz is non-porous, so liquid and condensation can gather on the surface and get trapped in seams and crevices. This allows mold and mildew to grow, creating a musty, dirty odor. Areas around the sink and dishwasher are prone to retaining water.
- Thoroughly dry the countertop surface after spills, cleaning, and handwashing dishes. Pay extra attention to seams and edges.
- Open dishwasher after cycles complete to allow steam to escape and prevent moisture buildup under countertops.
- Use a kitchen or bathroom fan regularly to improve air circulation.
- Apply a silicone sealer annually to seal any cracks and prevent moisture penetration.
Food Debris and Bacteria
Food bits and spills that aren’t properly cleaned up can quickly cause foul odors. Bacteria feed on organic matter left on the counter, releasing unpleasant smells. Citrus juices, coffee, wine, and garbage juices are common culinary culprits.
- Clean quartz routinely with a gentle cleaner and rinse thoroughly. Going longer than a week between cleanings allows buildup.
- Disinfect quartz periodically with a dilute bleach solution to kill odor-causing bacteria.
- Avoid sponges and go for a paper towel or microfiber cloth to prevent bacteria collection in cleaning tools.
- Use a granite cleaner to dissolve stuck-on residue and eliminate odors in one step.
Some homeowners report a chemical odor from new quartz countertops that lingers for months. This is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released through a process called off-gassing. Adhesives and sealants used in fabrication can continue emitting VOC fumes.
- Air out the kitchen by opening windows to ventilate. Run exhaust fans to speed air circulation.
- Place bowls of activated charcoal around the kitchen to absorb VOCs.
- Mist vinegar around countertops to neutralize chemical odors. Pure vinegar evaporates quickly.
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter regularly to remove VOCs from the air.
Mildew in Undermount Sinks
The gap between an undermount sink and quartz countertop can trap water, soap, and debris. Just like around drains, this moist environment breeds smelly mildew. Bad odors from the sink may waft up through the countertop.
- Clean the sink gap at least weekly using a brush, like an old toothbrush, and baking soda paste.
- Squirt dish soap into the gap and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing to break up gunk and kill mildew.
- Disinfect weekly by spraying diluted bleach solution into the sink gap and waiting 10 minutes before wiping.
- Leave the dishwasher door open after cycles so the sink area dries out.
Tips to Prevent Odors in Quartz Countertops
Prevention is the best way to keep quartz countertops odor-free. Follow these pro tips to minimize moisture and buildup:
- Clean often: Use a granite cleaner or mild soap and water to wipe the counters at least once a week. Microfiber cloths work well.
- Dry completely: Always dry the surface thoroughly after cleaning, especially around the sink.
- Remove spills quickly: Clean up food and beverage spills as soon as they happen to prevent staining and bacteria growth.
- Take out trash regularly: Don’t allow garbage odors to waft up from cans stored under counters.
- Use cutting boards: Avoid slicing foods directly on quartz to prevent juices and oils from soaking in.
- Seal annually: Reapply a silicone sealer yearly to seal any tiny cracks that can harbor moisture and odors.
- Inspect grout: Make sure grout between countertop seams isn’t cracked or missing, which allows odor-causing buildup.
- Open dishwasher: Always open the dishwasher at the end of cycles to let moisture escape from under the counters.
How to Remove Odors from Quartz Counters
If smells persist, try these methods to actively eliminate odors:
Baking Soda and Vinegar
For light cleaning and deodorizing, make a paste of baking soda and water. Spread onto stinky areas and let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. The abrasiveness lifts residue while the alkaline absorbs odors. Use undiluted white vinegar to wipe the area after. The acidity kills bacteria.
As a natural antibacterial, hydrogen peroxide effectively attacks odors. Mix a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part peroxide. Apply it to the quartz and let sit for 10 minutes before wiping away. For sinks, spray it directly into the gap crevices. Repeat weekly to prevent smells.
Activated charcoal pulls impurities from the air to remove smells. Place open containers around stinky countertops overnight. For a stronger treatment, make a paste with water and scrub it into the counters. Rinse thoroughly after 1-2 hours. Charcoal can stain grout, so use caution.
For stubborn odors, use a degreasing granite cleaner. Apply it to the entire surface and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Scrub with a soft brush, then rinse it away. Following up with a diluted bleach solution helps sanitize and kill lingering bacteria.
For severe mildew or chemical odors, consider hiring a professional quartz restoration company. They have commercial-grade treatments and tools to deep clean, disinfect, and deodorize countertops using truck-mounted systems and potent antimicrobial solutions.
When to Call a Professional for Smelly Quartz Counters
While DIY odor removal may work for mild smells, contact a professional if:
- Odors persist after thorough home treatments
- Musty mildew smells indicate moisture damage
- You suspect sink gaps need resealing
- Severe stains need deep-cleaning machines
- The smell emerges from inside the slab, signaling a manufacturing flaw
- VOCs continue releasing months after installation
A pro can diagnose the root cause and restore your countertops to odor-free using specialized techniques and tools. They have access to heavy-duty antimicrobials and sanitizers that destroy bacteria, mildew, and embedded odors safely and effectively.
FAQs About Smelly Quartz Countertops
What causes a musty smell in quartz counters?
Musty odors usually signify mildew growth due to moisture getting trapped along seams and edges. Areas around sinks and dishwashers often retain dampness. Letting water and spills sit allows mold to grow.
How do you get rid of chemical smells in new quartz?
Chemical odors from adhesives off-gassing are common in new installations. Run exhaust fans, open windows, set out charcoal, and use HEPA air filters to ventilate VOCs until the smell dissipates. It typically fades within a few weeks.
Why does my quartz counter smell like urine?
Urine odors suggest pet accidents or spills getting absorbed into crevices. Use an enzyme cleaner made for pet stains to break down the urine. For severe odors, schedule professional deodorizing to extract embedded urine smell from the stone.
What smells mean bacteria in quartz counters?
Foul, rotten, or fishy smells indicate organic matter decomposition from food bits, oils, and spills getting trapped on the surface. Bacteria feed on these remains, releasing smelly waste. Disinfecting quartz with diluted bleach kills bacteria and curbs odors.
Can you get rid of onion smell in quartz?
Rinse onion juices immediately to avoid absorption into the stone. For existing onion odors, thoroughly clean the surface with soap and water, then wipe down with full-strength white vinegar to neutralize onion smell. Avoid cutting directly on the counters to prevent deep staining.
Unpleasant odors coming from quartz counters can result from various causes. Retained moisture, food debris, off-gassing adhesives, and sink mildew are common culprits. With regular cleaning, prompt spill removal, proper drying, and moisture prevention, most quartz odors can be avoided. Baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and activated charcoal can be used for DIY deodorizing. For persistent or severe smells, contact a professional quartz restoration company. With the right solutions, you can eliminate odors and keep your quartz counters fresh.