Prevent staining on crappy plastic laminate countertop
May 8, 2014 12:44 PM   Subscribe

We just moved to a new apartment that has dead white plastic laminate countertops. I don't know if it's because they are old, or what, but they pick up stains ridiculously easily. If I splash tea or coffee on it and wipe it up instantly, it will leave a stain. If I'm peeling vegetables and any juice or peel lands off the cutting board, it leaves a stain. Let's not even talk about tomato sauce splashes. Is there anything I can do to the laminate to make it more stain resistant?

I have been mostly successful in removing the stains. Most will come off if I promptly spray with Fantastic or 409 and let it sit for ten minutes before wiping. And the rest, except one, have come off with a combination of Fantastic, baking soda, and scrubbing.

But this is much higher maintenance than I'd like; I'm used to just being able to wipe up a liquid with a paper towel, or a quick spritz of cleaning solution without the need to let it soak in. I think it's not just the dead white color; there's something wrong with the laminate, because they redid one segment of the countertop, and it doesn't pick up stains the way the older parts do.

Any suggestions? I don't want to do anything that the landlord might object to. But I might be able to get permission to do something invasive like sealing it, although I've never heard of that for laminate...
posted by Kriesa to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If we're going old-school, then let's go old-school.

Jubilee wax will protect and clean the laminate.

I used it on the harvest gold Formica in our kitchen when I was a kid.

Very good stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:48 PM on May 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a counter like this. I can't help with the preventive aspect of your question but I can say that Mr. Clean Magic Erasers were a lifesaver in terms of stain removal. That should make your life a bit easier - it's a lot better than the Fantastic/baking soda/upper body workout routine. It requires very little pressure to pull up stains and they last a long time.
posted by sockermom at 12:50 PM on May 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Get a nice big chopping board or 2 and try do do everything on that. Barkeeps friend can work or the ajax version with bleach in just check an inconspicuous area to check for scratching first. Magic erasers are great but the cost drove me crazy.
posted by wwax at 1:05 PM on May 8, 2014

I have those countertops too. Bleach works.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers also work and can be inexpensive if you don't need the brand name. 58 of them for $19 -- they're just melamine foam sponges. Ebay also often has them for super cheap.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:09 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could always just get clear plastic placemats to use in your heavy traffic counter areas.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:10 PM on May 8, 2014

Go to an auto parts store and get the best quality carnuba wax available.

Wax the counter multiple times to start and repeat whenever liquids stop beading up and start getting through the wax barrier.

posted by gnossos at 1:41 PM on May 8, 2014

Seconding Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I have the same kind of countertops, and Magic Erasers are the only thing that really removes stains.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2014

Note that you shouldn't try to combine the Magic Erasers and the protective coating - the erasers are abrasive and will eat right through a wax coat or whatever.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2014

Best answer: Honestly I wonder if an overzealous application of Magic Erasers is what has screwed up your countertops (they are microabrasives that actually remove portions of the surface of whatever you rub them on). This has definitely happened to some plastics and ceramics in my house-- the handle of the fridge and the oven were gross, as was the inside of the white ceramic sink, so I started magic eraser-ing them monthly in 2012, and now they attract even more dirt and only the magic eraser will get the dirt off. It sounds like some type of protective layer has been removed.

If you are renting, my answer would be to cover the countertops as much as possible, with clear plastic or butcherblocks, and really only deal with big stains when you move out via Magic Eraser.
posted by holyrood at 2:54 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yep. I have these too. I just use bleach spray cleaner... just some cheap store brand. Works just fine. I haven't been able to prevent it and "honey wipe up your coffee spills" is useless too.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:02 PM on May 8, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, bleach. Hypochlorite for preference, 'cos if it doesn't smell like death, it's not doing shit.
posted by scruss at 3:52 PM on May 8, 2014

Best answer: I use bleach spray too. After the bottle is used up I refill it with my own bleach solution at the same concentration. I forget the proportions but for the typical spray bottle it's something like 1-2 tablespoons bleach and the rest water.
posted by payoto at 3:56 PM on May 8, 2014

I have two big tempered glass cutting boards/counter protectors in my kitchen, and I love them. They're great for avoiding stains on the counters, plus I can put hot pans directly on them, and cut on them (don't do this if you have good knives, I have cheap crappy IKEA knives). They're great - I keep one under my iced tea maker and on my main prep area counter. They're not that expensive, and they're easy to clean and sanitize. You can get plain clear glass or patterns - I think they're made by corelle. Amazon, walmart, bed bath & beyond, they're all over. I like them so much, they're really one of my kitchen "must haves"

Also, if you look on pinterest there are many many DIY posts about re-doing formica/laminate counters; it's basically a process of sanding, priming, and re-painting and sealing. To do it well, it takes a lot of careful detail work and complete drying of layers, and even then the new finish is not permanent and wears out - but it might be an option if they look bad enough when it comes time to move out and you want your deposit back.
posted by lemniskate at 4:28 PM on May 8, 2014

How about putting Glad Press n Seal paper on it?
posted by bq at 5:05 PM on May 8, 2014

« Older Random Numbers In Excel, Without Duplicates, Based...   |   What's the thinnest comfortable mattress out there... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.