Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Made from crushed quartz blended with resin, these countertops are praised for their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, like any surface, quartz countertops require proper care and cleaning to prevent damage. One question that often comes up is whether ammonia-based cleaners can damage quartz.
Can Ammonia Damage Quartz Countertops?
The short answer is yes, ammonia can potentially damage quartz countertops. Here’s a more in-depth look at the effects of ammonia on quartz:
How Ammonia Impacts Quartz
- Ammonia is a powerful alkaline chemical that can etch and corrode many surfaces. When ammonia comes into contact with quartz, it can damage the resin binder that holds the crushed quartz particles together.
- Over time, repeated use of ammonia can erode the glossy finish of quartz and cause pitting or rough patches. This damage is often permanent.
- Ammonia can also cause quartz to lose its lustrous appearance and develop a cloudy, faded look. This is due to the alkaline chemicals reacting with the pigments used to color quartz.
Factors That Increase Risk of Damage
- Using high concentrations of ammonia – Concentrated or pure ammonia found in some industrial-strength cleaners poses the greatest risk.
- Allowing ammonia to sit – Letting ammonia soak into the surface increases chemical penetration.
- Using ammonia regularly – Frequent ammonia use gives more opportunity for accumulation of damage.
- Heat exposure – Excessive heat accelerates chemical reactions that can damage quartz.
Signs of Ammonia Damage
- Visible etching, pitting, or scratches on surface
- Development of rough, uneven patches
- Fading and loss of shine
- Cloudy, foggy appearance
Best Cleaners for Quartz Countertops
To safely clean quartz and avoid damage, it’s best to steer clear of ammonia-based products. Here are some recommended options:
Mild Soap and Water
For day-to-day cleaning, a mild dish soap diluted in warm water is usually sufficient for cleaning quartz without any risk of damage. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.
PH-Neutral Stone Cleaners
Look for cleaners specifically formulated for engineered stone that are pH balanced. These won’t negatively react with quartz resin.
As a mild bleach, hydrogen peroxide can disinfect quartz without etched or fading the surface. Rinse thoroughly after use.
Baking Soda and Water Paste
For stuck-on grime, make a paste of baking soda and water. Gently scrub and rinse well. Baking soda is non-acidic.
Window and Glass Cleaner
These mild cleaners contain ingredients like isopropyl alcohol that can lift dirt without posing a risk to quartz.
Protecting Quartz from Ammonia Exposure
Here are some tips to keep quartz looking its best:
- Read product labels and avoid anything containing ammonia. This includes glass cleaners, some multi-surface cleaners, and anything with “ammonium” in the ingredients.
- Quickly wipe up spills. Don’t allow cleaning products like soap scum removers or tub and tile cleaners to soak into countertops.
- Use trivets and hot pads under hot pans and appliances. Heat accelerates chemical damage.
- Re-seal quartz every 1-2 years with a stone sealer made for engineered quartz. This creates a protective barrier.
- Avoid abrasive pads and powders that could scratch surfaces and make them more prone to etching.
Can Damaged Quartz Be Repaired?
In cases of mild etching or fading, it is sometimes possible to polish quartz countertops to regain some shine and smoothness. However, deep damage from ammonia may be impossible to remove completely. Replacement of the damaged section may be the only option.
To avoid permanent discoloration or visible pitting, it’s wise to play it safe and keep ammonia far away from quartz surfaces. With proper care using non-alkaline cleaners, quartz countertops can stay looking pristine for years. Handle spills quickly, use trivets for hot items, and re-seal regularly. Following these tips will help you avoid any regrets over damaged quartz.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ammonia and Quartz Countertops
Can I use Windex to clean quartz counters?
No, avoid Windex and other glass cleaners on quartz. The ammonia in these products can damage quartz over time. Use a pH-neutral stone cleaner instead.
What happens if you accidentally clean quartz with ammonia?
Rinse immediately with water to dilute the ammonia. Over time, exposure to ammonia can cause etching, fading, and rough spots. Avoid further ammonia and consider re-sealing.
How long does it take for ammonia to damage quartz?
Etching and fading can begin after just a few exposures, especially with high concentrations. Prolonged contact accelerates damage. Always rinse spills quickly.
Can I use vinegar to clean quartz countertops?
White vinegar is mildly acidic and can dull quartz surfaces with repeated use. For routine cleaning, stick to gentle soap and water or pH-balanced cleaners.
Is it OK to use bleach on a quartz countertop?
In small amounts, diluted bleach can disinfect quartz without posing substantial risk of damage. However, avoid prolonged exposure to prevent fading over time.
Quartz countertops offer beauty, practicality, and low maintenance when properly cared for. Avoiding ammonia is the key to preventing etching, pitting, and fading. With routine cleaning using gentle, pH-neutral cleaners and by handling spills promptly, you can safely enjoy durable, flawless quartz surfaces for years. Handle quartz with care, and your countertops will retain their refined, elegant look.