The secret to smudgeless, scuff-free surfaces is washing often with soft cloths and gentle cleansing agents, since harsher chemicals can cause damage. So whether you’re whipping up counters, cabinets, tabletops, or your fridge door, follow our breakdown by material.

Marble or Granite

Products too acidic or alkaline will etch natural stone. Use one that’s neutral, with a pH of seven, as indicated on the label.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: A solution of mild dishwashing liquid and water is pH neutral. Wipe with a microfiber cloth only; even paper towels can be too harsh.

Try this One! Microfiber cleaning cloths, by Quickie HomePro, $10 for 4,

Stainless Steel

Streaking is especially visible on stainless steel; too much product or a dirty cloth often causes it.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: Mist the surface with stainless-steel polish; wipe clean with microfiber cloth. To remove smudgy fingerprints, skip the polish and simply buff with the cloth. Always rub with the grain.

Try this: Einshine natural stainless-steel cleaner. By Better Life, $8 for 16 oz.,

Ceramic Tile

For mildew and stains, avoid harsh products like bleach, which can strip grout of its color.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: Scrub the grout with a paste of baking soda and water, then rinse. Next, submerge a microfiber cloth in a solution of water and mild dishwashing liquid. Wring out the cloth. Then wipe down.

Try this: 365 Everyday value baking soda. Available at Whole Foods’ stores.

Engineered Stone

With Corian and Caesarstone, the way to remove the stain depends on the finish; follow the instructions that come with the installation.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: For routine cleaning, spray the surface with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe it with a microfiber cloth.

Try this: All-purpose cleaner, in Ginger Yuzu, $4 for 28 oz.,

Finished Wood

Wood sprays leave behind oily residues that attract dust. For daily cleaning, just dust with a dry microfiber cloth.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: For sticky or grimy wood surfaces, submerge a microfiber cloth in a solution of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid. Wring out the cloth, and then wipe down the wood.

Try this: Dish soap $8 for 16 oz.,



Abrasive pads and cleaners will compromise the seal on the concrete and leave it more prone to stains.

HOW TO CLEAN IT: Mix a 1-to-1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the surface, and then wipe it down with a microfiber cloth

Try this: Organic white vinegar, $3.25 for 16 oz.,



~White vinegar has long been an eco-cleaning superstar. Try these alternative uses.

1. Keep blue jeans blue by washing them with a cup of vinegar rather than detergent. “Don’t worry about the smell–it all comes out in the wash,” says Madewell denim designer Mary Pierson.

2. To prevent cloudy glasses, “skip detergent and pour two cups of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher just before the main wash cycle,” says Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple. (Check this out with the manufacturer of your dishwasher.)

3.  For shiny hair, add a few drops of vinegar to your last rinse. “It will lock the       moisture in hair cuticles,” says L’Oreal Paris Global colorist Christophe Robin.

*Reprinted from: Martha Stewart Living Home Issue, Sept. 2013.