Getting stains out of a white formica kitchen counter
May 12, 2005 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Have I hopelessly stained my white formica kitchen counter?

After some recent debauchery, there were some stains on my counter the morning after. Not sure what: could be red wine, could be coffee, could be raspberry juice. I wasn't worried in the least because a little Soft Scrub with bleach always took care of such problems instantly in the past. But not this time. When it didn't, I thought, "hmm, well, maybe more bleach" so I poured a flood of straight bleach on the stains, covered them with a damp paper towel and went away. When I got back, to my horror, the stains have now become much more prominent and have turned a hideous, bright Halloween-y orange. No amount of scrubbing even begins to minimize them. What the hell did I do? And is there any way to fix this?
posted by CunningLinguist to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could try baking soda paste? It shouldn't make it any worse, anyway, and it's cheap.
posted by handee at 5:46 AM on May 12, 2005

I've had a lot of luck with a product called "Kaboom"---it's sold as a bathtub stain remover. The trick is to let it sit on the surface for a few minutes, no scrubbing. The chemicals need a bit of time to work their magic. It works better than bleach for me. Do rinse well after using though---apparently it's not particularly food-safe.
posted by bonehead at 6:02 AM on May 12, 2005

make a paste from "oxy-clean" or some other oxygenated bleach (found in the laundry isle of your supermarket), and let sit on the stain. It is food-safe AFAIK and in my experience, takes most organic stains out of anything.
posted by horsemuth at 6:14 AM on May 12, 2005

Response by poster: Does anyone know why the stains turned bright orange?
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:21 AM on May 12, 2005

Because you bleached it?
posted by Jairus at 6:25 AM on May 12, 2005

Response by poster: Shouldn't that turn the stain as snowy white as the counter?
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:26 AM on May 12, 2005

I also have a formica counter and have had some luck getting out red wine stains by putting baking soda on them and squeezing on lemon juice. Then just leave it for a while. In reality, however, it doesn't come completely out with anything. The good news, though, is that it does eventually go away (like within a few weeks) just with wiping the counter regularly.

Formica just does not like wine, though.
posted by transient at 6:59 AM on May 12, 2005

Best answer: I have used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get unidentified red/pink stuff out of my extremely cheap and porous beige formica countertops.
posted by xyzzy at 7:11 AM on May 12, 2005

Also, a search on google for "bleach formica" revealed that bleach and formica are not necessarily good friends, as Sharon points out halfway down the page.
posted by xyzzy at 7:51 AM on May 12, 2005

Response by poster: Oh yay, thanks xyzzy. I'll try the lemon juice thing first, then all your other suggestions.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:56 AM on May 12, 2005

If none of that works, try Gel-Gloss. I've had good luck with it. It's in hardware stores.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:38 AM on May 12, 2005

I have similar countertops. They're white formica. The worst of it is that, not only do they have a lip that collects everything that spills, they slope. The height difference is about an inch over 18 inches. So, every time I wash the dishes, the water pools at the other end of the counter. I scrub my counters constantly. Half the time, I don't even know exactly what is causing the stain. Windex Multitask tends to do the job pretty well.
On the other hand, I don't try very hard to remove stains from my white formica countertops. My vote is to just replace them with something that doesn't stain as easily. I'm looking into steel countertops, myself...
posted by Jon-o at 10:44 AM on May 12, 2005

Response by poster: Yeah, but you know, I rent.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:47 AM on May 12, 2005

Get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide -- the plain old brown bottle from the drugstore -- and soak that on the stain for a while. That's pretty much what the oxy-whatever is, anyway, but cheaper by a factor of 10 or so.
posted by majick at 11:01 AM on May 12, 2005

I've got a formica kitchen table, and a vigourous scrub with good ole corrosive-as-hell Fantastik has always taken care of wine and coffee stains.
posted by gompa at 11:06 AM on May 12, 2005

Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers could be made of ground up puppies, and I'd still buy 'em.
posted by keswick at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2005

Response by poster: Nothing so far:

Lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, Magic Erasers and baking soda paste, made both with water and more peroxide, did nada. Neither did a schmancy "formica restorer" from Restoration Hardware.

V bummed.

Will try Kaboom.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:40 AM on May 22, 2005

Response by poster: New update: several minutes of scrubbing at the mess with the Magic Eraser every morning while waiting for the coffee to brew seems to be working. It's going to take weeks, but the stains are fading. Yay!
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:29 AM on May 26, 2005

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