In the age of COVID-19, disinfecting natural stone countertops is essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. However, not all disinfectants are safe to use on natural stone. Some can cause etch damage--a type of chemical damage the harms the top layer of a stone--forever ruining your countertops.
What is etch damage?
Natural stone carries calcium, and when certain chemicals interact with that calcium, it alters the texture and appearance of the stone. Etch damage often resembles puddles of water on a countertop's surface, which is why many people refer to it as "watermarks." While water can be wiped away, etching cannot, and it will remain there until the stone is adequately restored (see below).
How to avoid etching
The best way to prevent etch damage is to use a disinfectant that is safe for natural stone. First, consult The Environmental Protection Agency's list of disinfectants that are effective against the novel coronavirus. Then, check the label. If the product is safe to use on natural stone, it will say so on the bottle. You can also create your cleaner by mixing 50% isopropyl rubbing alcohol with 50% water. Let it sit on your countertop for 3-5 minutes for it to be effective.
Removing etch damage
If your countertop already has etch damage, there are ways to remove it yourself. If the etching is minor, you can remove it yourself with a marble polishing compound. However, if you can feel the etch mark with your fingers, then it is too severe to fix through DIY methods alone. In these cases, you will have to consult a stone restoration technician to remove the damage.