Worktops get a lot of hard wear, so have to be made of durable materials. The most popular choices are laminates, which have the advantage of being cheap and very hard-wearing, closely followed by wood. At the luxury end of the market are composites, which are made from acrylic resin and stone, and solid stone, such as granite and slate. Tiled worktops are now decidedly out of fashion, while popular modern choices are stainless steel and glass.
Cleaning composite worktops. Wipe up spills as they occur. Fruit juices and oils can stain. Use washing-up liquid and a damp cloth. Rinse and wipe dry to prevent water marks. If stains do appear, use a little abrasive cleaning powder. Sprinkle on the surface, leave for a few minutes before cleaning with a soft cloth, using a circular motion. To prevent damage, do not put a hot pan directly on the surface; use a pan stand or trivet.
Cleaning glass worktops. Clean with a soft cloth and mild detergent. Rinse by spraying with a mixture of vinegar and water and wipe dry to make the glass sparkle. To prevent damage, avoid banging anything down roughly on the glass. Always use a pan stand or trivet for hot saucepans. Always use a chopping board – you will not damage the worktop if you do not, but your knives will suffer.
Cleaning laminate worktops. Use a damp cloth and any all-purpose cleaner, rinse and leave to dry. Alternatively, dip a damp cloth in bicarbonate of soda and use to clean. Scouring powders are not a good idea because they can scratch shiny surfaces on cheaper makes, but if stains appear, use a cream cleaner. To prevent damage, do not put hot pans directly on top of the worktop. Do not cut food directly on top of the worktop – always use a chopping board.
Cleaning stainless steel worktops. Wipe up spills thoroughly with a damp cloth and washing-up liquid, rinse and dry to prevent water marks. Every now and again, polish with a specialist stainless steel cleaner. Stainless steel shows every greasy finger marks. To clean, put a drop or two of baby oil on a soft cloth and rub it over the stained area. Then put another drop or two of oil on the cloth and go over the whole worktop so that no smudges are left. You can use baby oil on all stainless steel appliances, such as fridges and cooker fronts. To prevent damage, always use a chopping board to prevent scratching the surface and damaging knives. Do not let corrosive acids such as lemon juice or salt sit on the surface for any length of time.
Cleaning stone worktops. Clean regularly with a damp cloth and all-purpose detergent, rinse and dry to prevent water marks. Acids, such as wine and fruit juices, and oils, particularly olive oil, can stain porous worktops such as granite if they are allowed to soak in. Do not bang heavy pots down on stone worktops; although they are hard, they may chip. Always use a chopping board.
Cleaning wooden worktops. Wipe up spills and food preparation areas with a damp cloth and washing-up liquid. The wood has anti-bacterial properties. As long as it does not get deep scratches in it, you can safely prepare food on it (however, don’t cut food on it). To keep the worktop looking at its best, oil it regularly – every three to six months. First, wash the surface all over with hot, soapy water using a cloth that has been well wrung out, then rinse and dry. When the wood is completely dry apply one or more thin coatings of worktops oil – several thin layers are better than one thick one. Always use a chopping board and never put hot pans down on a wooden worktop – use a pan stand or trivet. Do not allow liquids to stand on it for any length of time. Do not let wet crockery stand on the worktop and always dry it off after use. Iron and steel can mark wood if they stay in contact with it for a long time. So iron trivets or pan stands should not be left standing on the worktops because there is a danger that they may rust and mark the wood.
Cleaning tiled worktops. Clean as for any ceramic tiles, using a damp cloth and detergent. Wipe up spills as soon as they occur, especially potentially staining foods, such as curry, on the grout. Every now and then, clean the grout with a solution of bleach (3 parts water to 1 part bleach) and an old toothbrush. You can also freshen up grout with a grout pen (available from DIY shops). To descale tiled worktop, fill a spray bottle with half and half water and vinegar. Spray the surface, then wipe dry with a clean cloth. You can use this mixture as a daily final rinse for all tiles and worktops to take advantage of vinegar’s antiseptic properties.