How to Clean Soapstone Surfaces

Soapstone is a nonporous, metamorphic rock composed mainly of talc, magnesium, silicate and chlorate. It is one of the most stain-resistant and easy to maintain surfaces you can have in your home. Soapstone is so impervious to heat that is used to make pizza stones, oven interiors, cooking pots, and masonry heaters. The heat resistant qualities coupled with its stain resistant qualities make soapstone a highly desirable addition to any home.

Daily Cleaning

You Will Need:

  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Dry towel

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a bucket (or sink full) of warm water, working it until suds form.
  2. Wet your sponge or cloth with the soapy water and wipe the soapstone surface thoroughly.
  3. Rinse out your sponge or cloth with plain water and wipe away any sudsy residue from the soapstone surface.
  4. Surface can either be allowed to air dry or can be wiped dry with a soft towel.
  5. If you prefer, you can use a general all-purpose cleaner (such as 409® or Fantastik) on your soapstone. Soapstone is impervious to chemicals, so those types of cleaners will not harm it.

Periodic Maintenance

You Will Need:

  • Mineral oil
  • Soft cloth
  • Soft towel

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Pour a small amount of mineral oil onto your cloth.
  2. Rub the mineral oil onto the soapstone surface.
  3. After the oiling, you can wipe away the excess so that the surface will not feel slick. (The oil will not soak in—soapstone is impermeable)
  4. During the first year of using your soapstone surface, this should be done about every two weeks to help the stone oxidize (darken) evenly. Thereafter, it should be done about every two months.

Repairing Scratches

You Will Need:

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Soft cloth
  • Mineral Oil

The Repairing Process:

  1. Soapstone is prone to scratches. If the surface of your soapstone gets scratched, gently go over the scratch with a piece of fine sandpaper, using a smooth, circular motion.
  2. Wet the sandpaper, and sand the scratch again, using a smooth, circular motion.
  3. Wet a sponge with warm water, and wipe away any residual dust.
  4. Pour a small amount of mineral oil onto a soft cloth and rub it into the area that was sanded to help restore its luster and natural dark color. The sanding will remove the mineral oil and make the color lighter, so you may need to apply the mineral oil several times to even out the color of the scratched and sanded area.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If your soapstone is new, you can expect that it will darken over time. This is a natural occurrence as the stone oxidizes and actually adds to the beauty of the surface. Most soapstone will darken to a charcoal gray, although some may remain lighter and retain a greenish hue.
  • Unlike marble or granite, soapstone is not porous in nature (thus its natural stain resistance) and does not need to be sealed.
  • To make oiling even easier, keep your oiled cloth in a ziplock baggie. Over time, the cloth will absorb the oil and will therefore spread more easily and evenly on the soapstone surface.
  • Since soapstone is prone to scratches, it is not recommended that you use any type of abrasive cleanser or steel wool products on your soapstone surfaces.

Comments

  1. Per says:

    I just installed soapstone countertops. This stuff really is amazing. True soapstone is impenetrable. But if you want to freshen up the sink, you can vacuum it out and sand the surface with a random orbital sander using 120 grit paper followed by 220 grit paper. After sanding, vacuum again, then clean with denatured alcohol. Your sink is good as new and ready to go!

    If you would like it to stay dark like it is when it is wet, you can apply mineral oil after the denatured alcohol dries. Just wipe the oil on the sink with a clean cotton cloth and then wipe off the excess. I find it is best to do this in the evening before going to bed so the oil has a chance to evaporate and the surface doesn’t feel oily to the touch.

  2. Per says:

    Mike,
    It sounds like your soapstone is on the floor, maybe tiles? In that case, I believe the soapstone is rougher (un-sanded). When we clean our countertop soapstone, I first wipe the surface down with denatured alcohol. If there are any surface stains remaining, I come back with water and wipe again. (It seems like the alcohol doesn’t dissolve certain stains. The stain is on the surface and just needs to be addressed with a different solution, normally happens with coffee.) Next, I wipe mineral oil on the surface to give it that rich dark look. Have you tried a soapy solution and a stiff bristled brush? Hopefully it is just the issue of a different solution and agitating the stain.

  3. Tom says:

    My wife set a bottle of bleach on the our soapstone kitchen island, and apparently the bleach container had a pinhole leak. The area is now lighter in color, and circular. What is the best way to get rid of the stain?

  4. Davison says:

    My soapstone counter has a stickiness on the surface. It seems to be where I have canisters, etc. on top of the surface, and underneath a stickiness on the surface. It is not dirty, as I have used soap to clean. How do I get rid of this stickiness?

  5. Yudai says:

    It’s great to find an expert who can explain things so well.

  6. Sandra says:

    We have a wood burning soapstone stove and the top often gets stained. Is there a secret that I should know about cleaning these stains. The top and sides get hot during use and this may contribute to the problem.

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