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Prolong The Appearance and Life of Your Countertop

Aug 17, 2007
How often do you use your kitchen counter at home? Do you have a Formica top, or another material that is just as solid and lasting? Most of us don't give much thought to that cold, flat slab in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. But perhaps we should, since it can serve a variety of functions that we depend on every day. Let's talk about the kitchen counter, which lies at the hub of family life and center of frequent activity.

The kitchen counter is where dirty dishes are stacked, waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher or by hand. Crusty roasters, sticky silverware, and greasy platters bide their time on that beautiful finished surface while we take care of other things before tidying up the kitchen. The counter may be the place where you sign kids' school forms, open the mail, or write last-minute notes to family members before heading out the door for the day. It's where we set down bags of groceries, pet feeding dishes, an armful of dry cleaning, and a host of other items related to everyday chores. Small kitchen appliances like the toaster and blender probably enjoy their own spots for making the morning breakfast and other meals or snacks. Food preparation like grating, slicing, chopping, and mixing take place in this convenient area.

With all this activity occurring on a regular basis, your kitchen counter carries a lot of weight at times. It absorbs shocks from heavy items, accepts scratches or chips, and helps to blot stains from spilled juice or strained and drained foods. It's a wonder the counter looks as good as it does, right? That is due in large part to the industry's formulation of tough design and solid materials, as well as a protective finish. But keeping your counter in tip-top shape beyond the manufacturer's reach is up to you.

Start by clearing your counter of all unnecessary items. Put away containers that take up space, cover or store unused appliances, insist that no foods, like bread wrappers or jelly jars, be left sitting on the counter for any length of time. Clearing the clutter will open more space and give the entire room a sense of airiness. The counter area will be able to accommodate more time-specific tasks instead of being a gathering place for everyone's debris. Get a cutting board for food preparation so you don't have to damage the counter anymore.

Then make a point of wiping your counter free of crumbs, stains, and spills after each meal, or certainly at least once a day. Use a clean cloth, not a damp one that has been sitting around for hours or days, as it will have a sour smell that can be picked up by the counter. Gently wipe under the microwave or canister set to remove all crumbs and thus avoid attracting unwanted pests.

Each week or so, inspect your countertop for deep-set stains. Wipe the counter with a damp cloth to moisten it, and then lightly sprinkle baking soda on the stained areas. Allow it to set at least fifteen minutes. Get the cleaning cloth more wet, and then rub the powder in small circles to work at the stain. Rinse the counter thoroughly when you are done. Run your hand over the surface for signs of residue grit or powder, and rinse again, if needed.

Set an attractive (but unbreakable) vase or other decorator pieces on your counter to remind family members to keep it clear when not in use. This can help everyone take better care of the counter to prolong its quality.
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