Why Does Quartz Rust?
Homeowners and designers choose quartz over marble and granite because quartz isn’t porous like the others. Porous stone will soak up anything you spill. So when you start to notice stains and discoloration on your non-porous quartz, it can be frustrating.
Quartz isn’t porous because the stone is blended with resin. The resin helps make it stain-resistant, but that doesn’t mean it’s stain-proof. Some things will interact with the resin, leading to discoloration and staining.
Metal rusts when exposed to oxygen and moisture. This chemical reaction causes corrosion, causing rust. When you leave rusting metal on your quartz countertop, that chemical reaction can also interfere with the chemical makeup of the resin, leading to rust stains on quartz.
Rust isn’t the only thing that can stain quartz surfaces. Food, dyes, and cleaning solutions can all cause discoloration. Most of the time, these stains will come out with the proper cleaning method.
Understanding Quartz Countertops
Unlike marble or granite countertops, manufacturers don’t cut quartz countertops from a solid stone slab. Instead, they’re an engineered stone made from about 90% ground quartz mixed with resin.
There are many reasons that quartz is a top choice for countertops. Quartz is a naturally hard mineral, making for a solid, durable countertop. Because the quartz gets mixed with resin, quartz countertops are non-porous, don’t crack, and have a glossy sheen. Quartz also doesn’t require sealing and is easy to clean.
Quartz countertops do have a few drawbacks. They’re cumbersome and, as a result, usually require professional installation. They’re also more sensitive to heat than marble and granite countertops.
Cleaning Quartz Countertops
Luckily, because quartz countertops aren’t porous, it’s much easier to remove stains from them, even rust stains.
Removing Water Stains
If you have hard water, you know firsthand just how much of a pain it is. Hard water is harsh on your skin and hair, tough on appliances, and leaves water stains and discoloration on sinks, bathtubs, faucets, and countertops. Hard water is full of minerals. When the water evaporates, those minerals are left behind to cause staining and damage.
The simplest and gentlest way to remove hard water stains is with baking soda. Mix the baking soda with water to form a paste. Using a sponge or cloth, gently rub the paste into the countertop in a circular motion.
Apply the paste to the stain and then cover it with plastic wrap for trickier stains. Let it sit for about an hour or a bit more for really tough stains.
For mineral build-up, start with something like steel wool and gently exfoliate the countertop. You can also look for products specifically designed to clean granite.
Removing Oil Spills
Oil can leave unsightly dark stains on your countertop. This is especially common in the kitchen, where oils are a necessary cooking ingredient.
To start, try a mild soap like dish soap. Dish soap is excellent because it fights grease and oils; there’s a reason animal rescuers use dish soap to clean up ducks and otters after an oil spill.
Another gentle degreaser is rubbing alcohol. It will help dissolve the oil without damaging your quartz countertop.
Baking soda is a great option to prevent oil spills from setting into quartz. Wipe away the excess oil with a cloth and sprinkle baking soda over the area. The baking soda will help soak up the remaining oil.
Removing Rust Stains Left By Metal
Cleaning a metal rust stain may take a bit more elbow grease than a simple cleanser. For a stain that’s too stubborn for soap, you can try products like Bar Keepers Friend, Magic Erasers, or 409.
Bar Keepers Friend
Bar Keepers Friend is a powerful, multi-purpose cleaner that comes powdered in a can. While the company has been around for over a century, it’s also one of those trendy “TikTok made me buy it” products. The original formula is an excellent stain remover that’s gentle but tough.
Bar Keepers Friend is safe to use on quartz, but the company also makes a quartz cleaning spray for everyday cleaning.
Magic Erasers are the holy grail of cleaning supplies. They’re melamine foam, which is finely abrasive, allowing it to get into nooks and crannies. Just get the sponge wet and start scrubbing, but it might take some extra elbow grease.
409 is another great multi-purpose cleaner. It comes in a spray bottle, so start by spritzing it over your stain before wiping it down with a paper towel or sponge.
Removing Silicone Residue
Sometimes silicone residue, like from caulk, ends up on our quartz surfaces. You need to soften the silicone before scraping it off to clear this off.
The easiest way to do this is with rubbing alcohol. If the silicone is tough, you can let the alcohol sit for a few minutes to soften the silicone and then use a putty scraper or razor to scrape the silicone off.
Many companies also make silicone or caulk removers. Plenty are safe for use on quartz, like the Goo Gone Caulk Remover, but always check the label or company website to be sure.
The best way to avoid stains on quartz countertops is to clean up any spills right away. Avoid rust stains by keeping metal off your quartz surfaces if possible.
There are also a few things you should avoid using when cleaning your quartz countertop. They include:
- Harsh products. Stay away from acetone, the key ingredient in fingernail polish remover, as it can discolor the quartz and break the resin bonds. Keep products like oven cleaner, drain cleaner, and turpentine off your countertops as well.
- High or low pH products. The best product to use on quartz are ones that are a neutral pH. Acidic and basic products can be corrosive to your quartz countertops. Products with a low pH are acids like vinegar and lemon juice, while cleaners like ammonia and bleach are bases with a high pH.
- Lime Away, CLR, or hydrofluoric acid. It may be tempting to use products like Lime Away or CLR on quartz to eliminate hard water or rust stains but don’t. These products dissolve minerals, like quartz. Hydrofluoric acid, meanwhile, is a powerful acid that will damage your quartz countertop.
- Abrasive cleaners. When using abrasive tools like Magic Erasers or steel wool, use gentle pressure so as not to scrape away the resin. Abrasive cleaners like bleach can damage quartz as well. If you’re unsure if a product is safe for your quartz countertop, check the label or the company website.