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Kitchen countertops are some of the most frequently used surfaces in a house. They are made to withstand years of wear and tear, but certain common mistakes can damage them. Since kitchen counters are expensive to replace, you should avoid behaviors that could shorten their lifespan.

How to Prevent Cracks and Scratches
Even though countertops are hard, they can still crack from too much pressure. Heavy objects are more likely to cause damage if they’re placed near edges and joints.

Changes in temperature can also cause countertops to crack. Hot appliances, such as slow cookers and toaster ovens, may generate enough heat to damage kitchen counters. Hot pots and pans placed directly on a counter, even for a short time, can cause cracks. If something is extremely hot or if you’re unsure whether it could damage the counter, place a cutting board, trivet or pot holder under it to be on the safe side.

Kitchen countertops are not designed to be used for cutting directly on the surface. Small scratches can damage the sealant that’s added to protect counters from water. A scratched countertop will need to be buffed or resealed to prevent further problems. Cutting directly on a countertop can also damage knives. Always use a cutting board.

Moving pots and pans around on the counter, even if they aren’t hot, can cause scratches if there’s any dirt or food stuck to the bottom of the pan. Rust on the bottom of appliances can also damage countertops.

How to Avoid Stains
Acidic foods, such as lemon juice, vinegar and tomato sauce, can dull countertops because stone is porous and can absorb the spilled substance. If you spill anything acidic on a kitchen countertop, immediately clean it up and sprinkle baking soda on the area to neutralize the acid. If you place a glass containing a beverage on a countertop, use a coaster to prevent stains.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Countertops
When cleaning countertops, use a soft cloth or sponge. Never use a scrubbing sponge or steel wool. Some common household cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia can cause granite and stone countertops to fade. Glass cleaners and degreasers can cause stains, and gritty cleaners, such as those designed for bathtubs, can cause scratches. Use mild soap and water to clean your kitchen counters.

Protect Your Countertops
Kitchen counters are durable, but they can become damaged and may be expensive to repair or replace. Knowing the most common causes of damage to countertops can help you avoid making costly mistakes. Be careful when working in your kitchen, and understand how to keep your countertops clean and in good condition.