How to Clean Soapstone

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

Although Soapstone is durable and easy to maintain, you still need to take care of it occasionally. If you neglect your counter for too long, its natural gray color may slowly fade away and the original color will become dull. The good news is that you can take care of your soapstone countertops by cleaning them regularly, using a soapstone care mineral oil treatment, and taking care of any scratch area that might show up after day-to-day use. Home Depot and similar retailers also sell natural stone cleaner, a type of care that offers a great advantage in treating surface scratches to your new countertop.

Soapstone is found around the world in small deposits like boulders, small rocks, seams, and other deposits. In the United States, Soapstone is found in significant deposits in Vermont and Virginia. It can also be found through the Appalachian range from Georgia to Maine. Soapstone can also be found in Canada in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. In Canada, the first production began in 1981 from a deposit found in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock made up of talc, chlorite, serpentine, quartz, calcide, amphibole, mica, and iron oxides.

Where is Architectural Soapstone used? Because it is heat resistant, it is commonly used for tiles, kitchen sinks, wall tile, soapstone wood stoves, fireplaces, and kitchen countertops by the average homeowner. It’s a popular choice for artistic grade soapstone to be used in creative projects. You can find products like a soapstone sink or other products that have a soapstone surface like soapstone counters. Natural stone countertop materials are very good for food preparation and are made of high-quality natural stone. Because of its density, moisture clings on the surface and this makes for an ideal kitchen surface on a kitchen island.

Table of Contents

  1. Cleaning Soapstone Countertops
  2. How to Oil Your Soapstone Countertop
    1. The first application of mineral oil should be as follows:
    2. While you are oiling or cleaning your countertop, do not:
    3. How to Get Rid Of Scratches
  3. Pros and Cons of Soapstone
    1. Soapstone Pros
    2. Soapstone Cons
  4. In Conclusion
    1. Suggested Oiling Schedule

Cleaning Soapstone Countertops

If your soapstone countertop was just installed, it’s better to wait 24 hours after installation before tending to it. This gives the adhesives used to install your countertop time to cure. Tending to it while it is still curing may cause damage.

After 24 hours, it’s important to clean your soapstone countertop the first time, especially if you plan to use several applications of mineral oil to enhance its beauty. There may also be some debris from installation, which would be best to remove so that it doesn’t get caught in the countertop once you oil it. soapstone countertops are usually easy to maintain, and it only takes three things to clean them regularly. A clean rag, warm water, and soap. The steps, in order, are as follows: 

1. Wait 24 hours for your soapstone countertop to cure to the proper installation to prevent causing damage.
2. Gather a bowl or bucket, and fill it with warm water.
3. Place a few drops of soap into the bucket, and place your clean, dry cloth into the bucket until it is damp. 
4. Use the damp rag to clean the entire surface of the countertop, making sure to clean off all debris left behind from installation. 
5. Once you’ve wiped down the entire counter with a damp cloth and soap, you must then take a clean cloth or a paper towel and remove any soap or water left behind. It can affect the oiling process if not removed.
6. Debris left behind can show up in the oil coating and make your countertop feel bumpy and uneven. Clean regularly and most importantly, before you oil your soapstone to remove this debris and lessen your chance of an uneven oil coating. 

You don’t want to use household olive oil because it will smell and go rancid. It’s a good idea to use an oiling cloth or clean cotton cloth for regular cleaning. You may be surprised to hear this but yes, you must avoid the use of white vinegar (any vinegar), citrus (lemon juice), or any harsh common household cleaner on soapstone. Harsh cleaners have strong acids which are terrible for nonporous stones like soapstone, eating away at its natural beauty, and robbing it of its natural state, with the affected area damaged through etching, breaking, or pitting.

How to Oil Your Soapstone Countertop

Before you move onto this step, be sure that you’ve removed all debris and dust from an installation with soap and water, and then remove all soap and water with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

Mineral oil can truly bring out your countertop beauty. At first, the countertop will appear as a dark gray, but after the application of oil, the change is quite dramatic as it turns to a charcoal black. While you only need to do it years after the first oiling, using mineral oil regularly is a great choice because it can prevent moisture buildup and prevent cracking. 

Since soapstone surfaces are non-porous, it doesn’t absorb the oil you put on it. Over time, the oil evaporates, which will cause the dark charcoal color to fade. This is how you will know you need to oil your countertop again. If you are taking extra special care of your countertop and oiling it daily, you won’t need to worry about the color fading.

The first application of mineral oil should be as follows:

1. Using the oil of your choice, apply a few drops to the surface of the countertop.
2. With a soft cloth, spread the oil evenly across the entire surface, being sure that you’ve covered every inch.
3. Once you’ve spread drops of mineral oil, you can take a clean paper towel and wipe any excess oil running down the sites of your countertop to avoid making a larger mess.
4. This should leave your countertop a dark charcoal gray. If you like the way your countertop currently looks, glossy and bright, you might want optional treatments oil every few weeks to keep the look you want. If you prefer it to be a neutral dark color, without the glossy look, you only need to oil your countertop every six months or even yearly.

While you are oiling or cleaning your countertop, do not:

1. Use a harsh household cleaning product or scrubber.
2. Use oils that are not food-safe. Pay special attention to this especially if you’re going to be using that counter for cooking or preparing food. Using this kind of oil may also make your countertop greasy, which will not be soaked up into the stone since it is non-porous. 
3. Use harsh scrubbers such as brillo pads. Using harsh scrubbing products can cause scratches. 
4. You don’t want harsh chemicals coming into contact with your food, which could then lead to you or a loved one getting sick. Use non-toxic oils, and look for one that will not leave residue on your counter after being applied. Non-toxic products can be applied several times without harming your countertop, or you through food consumption.

How to Get Rid Of Scratches

Although the countertop is durable and easy to maintain, some soapstone scratches might appear after long-time use. If the scratches are not as deep, applying mineral oil is all that’s needed to get rid of them but may not be the only maintenance for deeper scratches. If the surface of your soapstone has deeper scratches, there are a few additional steps for cleaning.

For light scratches, apply a drop or two of mineral oil and spread evenly in circular motions until the scratch has disappeared. It should be as though it was never there at all. 

For deeper scratches, the process is a little bit more complicated as you need to sand down the area to remove the scratch. You’ll need some good luck.

The process is as follows:

  1. The sandpaper needed is 120-grit sandpaper used for light sanding of surfaces. Heavier sanding requires up to 220-grit sandpaper.
  2. Once you’ve located all existing scratches, you should sand in a circular motion until you can no longer see them. There is no reason to apply extra pressure to the sandpaper, as it can damage the countertop even further. The best way to get rid of the deeper scratches is by sanding lightly. The sandpaper will do most of the work for you.
  3. When you can no longer see the scratch, you should go in with soap and water and remove all the debris that came from sanding. This is because you will need to apply oil again, and don’t want the debris to get caught in it, as also stated above. 
  4. Remove all excess water and soap.
  5. Apply a few drops of oil and spread across the countertop, focusing on where the sanding was done. 
  6. Scratches are the only kind of long-term damage you should look out for, especially if you take good care of the counter. Soapstone is heat-resistant so it cannot be burned or scorched. Don’t use harsh scrubbers on your countertop while using soap and water. The only “harsh” product that should be used is sandpaper when you’re trying to remove scratches.

Soapstone countertops are an excellent choice for many people who don’t want to spend so much on concrete countertops or marble countertops as soapstone costs much less. The first coating of oil is the most important and should occur 24 hours after installation after cleaning. Investing in a soapstone countertop not only saves you money but also saves you time, and following the steps above will keep your counter looking beautiful for a long time to come. 

Pros and Cons of Soapstone

One of the most functional countertop materials is simple soapstone, which is less common than other materials. Like slate or granite, it adds a rustic, elegant, and urbane feel. Yet some find light gray granite countertops to be overrated as friends have experienced knicks, chips, and scratches even when they were told they are durable. Quartz can provide elegance but quartz cost is high and some don’t think it’s as pretty as national stone.

Our personal preference is anything with a reasonable price point along with the ease of maintenance. The types of stone do matter. That’s why we don’t like the high price of concrete countertops and the level of maintenance, which requires a proper seal at outset and resealing every couple of years, to avoid staining risks.

Soapstone Pros

  • Non-staining: Soapstone is a a dense, non-porous natural stone where moisture only clings to the surface with no way to get in. The likelihood of staining through seepage is minimal. Acidic foods or liquids are not a risk, either.
  • Durable and Non-cracking: Soapstone does not crack easily but it is soft, making scratches a great risk. As it is non-porous, yu won’t need to worry about any sealant measures of do-it-yourself fixit jobs.
  • Easy to Clean or Maintain: As it is non-porous, it is easy to clean but regular oiling is required to maintain its natural color.
  • Great Value for Money: Soapstone helps increase the value of your home and investment because of its many features.
  • Environment: It is extracted from deposits and can be recycled without any manufacturing process or use of chemicals and other synthetics.
  • Appearance: Each square foot for each slab can be unique compared to any other stone. It’s natural stone and enhances your home with a rustic beauty.
  • Heat: A hot pot or hot pans are perfect for any soapstone countertop because of its heat resistance. You will find its application useful for pizza stones, fireplace surrounds or even masonry heaters because of this without any discoloration or damage. It’s perfect for kitchens!
  • Installation: Cheaper and easier to install compared to man-made stone products.
  • Costs: Slab cost may be higher than other natural stones. The average square foot cost of soapstone counter tops ranges from $70-$120 (without installation), so a typical 30-square-foot slab of soapstone is about $2,100. Compared to a typical 30-square-foot slab of granite at $2400 at the low-end, soapstone is slightly cheaper but can vary and sometimes be more expensive, depending on service provider.

Soapstone Cons

  • Choice and Options: Choice is limited both in pattern or color. You can find soapstone in a few shades of grey, blue or black. This doesn’t mean pattern matching is difficult but may require a bit more work if you want an exact look or are prepared to be more adventurous.
  • Oil: Remember how oil and water don’t mix? The same can be said about soapstone. Oily matter can enable a natural darkening process with soapstone countertops. When mineral oil is applied, you should spread it widely on the slab surface to avoid dark patching. A combination of linseed oil and beeswax is also great for enhancing the rich color of soapstone and this also helps reduce the number of mineral oil applications too.
  • Cost: Cost and installation may be cheaper or may be higher depending on service provider used.
  • Scratches: Soapstone is softer which means no countertops cracking but scratches more easily. Requires sandpapering to remove them.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regular care is required since soapstone darkens with time and thus, requires more mineral oil treatments over time.
  • Texture: Upon mineral oil application, you may find the surface texture to be “soap-like” so it might not be a favorite for some people.

In Conclusion

Over time, you will be able to see that the deep color lasts longer between applications. Any grocery store or drug store may carry food-grade mineral oil.  You can apply mineral oil by wiping it on the entire kitchen countertop and then wipe it off with a clean rag. The rag or cloth may be kept in a bag for future use. If you don’t do anything to your soapstone, it will oxidize over time and become discolored and naturally darken. 

Suggested Oiling Schedule

Week 1Apply twice
Week 2 through 4Apply once per week
Week 5 through 9Apply once every two weeks
Week 10 up to 78 (18 months)Apply monthly, starting after two and a half months, up to eighteen months
78 weeks (18 months) and beyondAfter eighteen months, apply twice per year or every six months

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