Water Etching on Black Quartz Countertops

by Catherine D.
(Memphis, TN)


What a great website! Thank you for being here.

Two years ago we chose black quartz countertops for our kitchen. We love it.

Recently we have noticed rings from rinsed dishes/glasses that sit on the counter overnight.

This is only water... not leftover wine, or coffee glasses, or even oil... just water.

These spots are barely noticeable - if at all - until I wet the surface to clean it. Then they stand out. I have not noticed anything like this happening until the past 3-6 months.

How can we remove these glass rings?

What can we do to save our countertops from further rings/damage?


Quartz countertops are top-shelf surfaces but are marketed as if they cannot etch or be stained. Those in the stone industry know this is not true.

Quartz countertops do stain (not easily, but do) and can be damaged by some chemicals or cleaning products in a way similar to bleaching or etching.

Pure "water" is not causing the rings.

I'm assuming that the rings become apparent when wet like you stated AND that you cannot clean or wipe them away.

Soap residue left on the glasses is the most likely cause.

Some soaps can etch (especially dishwasher soaps) and you'd have to rinse your glasses with probably 10 times the water you actually use to completely rid the glasses of soap residue.

Bleach or some other highly alkaline substance in the soap could be discoloring the resin in the countertops. Or it may simply be a soap scum residue on the surface that needs cleaning.

Now, maybe these are glasses that have been used and rinsed to await washing... well, the rinsing simply wets the soap
residue from a previous washing and the water carries the residue down to the countertop surface.

It's curious that this seems to be a new development, though. Possibly you've recently started to use a new product or soap on the glasses?

Hard water deposits are another possibility.

This may be a stretch since the problem didn't exist until recently, however, it may be that something has changed with your water supply resulting in a higher mineral content.

So, the glass-rings are caused by one of three things:

  • Bleaching or etching from a caustic soap

  • Soap film on the surface

  • Hard water deposits

Here's a few quartz cleaning and repair options....

  • Use this Soap Film and Hard Water Cleaner. Soap films and hard water deposits are tough to remove. A specially formulated cleaner is required. This one is very effective and safe for cleaning quartz countertops.

  • Or try rubbing a fine 0000-grade steel wool pad on the area. This may re-polish the rings enough to remove them. However, abrasives can sometimes dull the surface, so test on a more hidden area first.

  • Hire a pro experienced with quartz countertops to re-polish the area. But honestly, I'd probably learn to live with them rather than risk a polishing mistake. Hand polishing stone/quartz is difficult.

Also, call the manufacturer to get their take on what may be occurring and the best way to resolve it.

Repair difficulty is one drawback of quartz countertops vs. granite countertops or other natural stone. Stone can almost always be repaired while quartz is troublesome and usually cannot be repaired once damaged.

To guard against future occurrence I'd use only very mild dishwashing soaps and maybe use a rubber mat to store the rinsed glasses.

Comments for Water Etching on Black Quartz Countertops

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What caused and how to remove rings on black quartz counter?
by: Teresa

We had black quartz counters with sparkle flecks installed about 4 1/2 years ago.

They have been fine, except streak so easily, until recently where I've noticed some rings.

They appear to have dulled the finish in the areas and I've tried some quartz products, but none remove these rings.

How can it just be water?

We have been careful to not leave dishes on the counter, but this morning I noticed another ring.

I'm concerned because we'd like to sell our house in the next year. Any tips?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Pure water will not harm quartz countertops, but several other substances could cause dull spots or rings.

Quartz surfaces will typically resist any damage from acids in common foods and drinks but certain cleaners that are either too acidic (low pH) or too alkaline (high pH) and other household products can cause dull or discolored spots on quartz countertops.

Things like bleach, solvents, oven cleaners, drain cleaners, abrasive cleaners, and others can dull or discolor the quartz. Often this is permanent damage.

The odd part is that you've had the quartz countertops for over 4 years and are just now having this problem with dull spots and glass rings.

Perhaps it is related to a new dish soap or dishwasher detergent product you've been using.

Some soaps and especially dishwasher detergents can have a high pH (11-13) and be too alkaline for safe use on quartz countertops.

Condensation on the glasses could be rinsing any dishwasher detergent residue off the glasses and down onto the quartz surface.

Or possibly the countertops have enough wear in certain areas that they are now more susceptible to discoloration from food acids, etc.

Honestly, it is difficult to say exactly why unless we know all the products the quartz countertop is being exposed to.

Bar Keeper’s Friend has proven to be the most effective stain-remover for quartz countertops.

It should not be used as a regular cleaner, though, as it is a little abrasive. Still, it can be safely used on quartz in most cases. Testing any product is always a good idea.

Bon Ami cleaner is a great second option. It's non-abrasive and generally will remove stains almost as well as Bar Keeper's Friend.

However, what you have may not be a difficult surface stain. This could be permanent discoloration. So, try the products recommended above, but if the rings remain, then it's permanent damage.

Also, determine if you've started using any new products on or around the quartz such as dishwasher detergent.

Sealing Silestone suede finish
by: Concerned buyer

I was told that quartz does not need a sealer. After reading all the problems people are having with their quartz countertops I'm thinking sealing them like you do granite might be a good idea.

Can you put a sealer on quartz to protect it from stains?

If it is possible, what product do you buy and is it safe to put on Silestone quartz that has a suede finish?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

No, you should not apply a stone sealer to Silestone or any other quartz countertop. It will not work to prevent the type of stains quartz gets.

Quartz countertops do stain but the stains are a different type than you see on granite.

Granite stains from substances absorbing into the surface. Sealers help prevent substances absorbing.

Quartz stains or more like bleach marks than stains. That is the resin used to make the quartz countertops is discolored by a chemical. This damage is usually permanent.

Some foods and drinks like tea and coffee have been known to stain quartz countertops but usually such surface stains can be removed using Bar Keeper's Friend.

Do not apply a stone sealer. It won't help at all and may leave a hazy residue on quartz countertops.

Black quartz countertops Windex streaks
by: Anonymous

My black Quartz countertops were installed 3 days ago. The installer told us to wipe them down with windex which we did.

We are now left with grey smudges all over the countertops. When I called the installer, I was told "that's black Quartz".

Then they insinuated that we did "something" to them. Could they be ruined from windex?? The kitchen is still being done, so we haven't even used the countertops! Please help!!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Windex typically is not an issue with quartz countertops, however, many chemicals can discolor quartz.

For this reason we always recommend that you use cleaners made for granite and marble. Quartz are mostly natural stone anyway so it makes most sense to treat them just like granite.

Using stone cleaners will eliminate the possibility of random cleaner damage.

Since these were just installed and the problem occurred following the advice of your installer, then I'd withhold final payment or press the issue to have it resolved equitably somehow.

If these had been installed for a few weeks or more, then "you must have done something" is a possible argument, but in this case the installer must take some responsibility.

by: Anonymous

I also have a discolored spot on my counter where my dishes air dry on a dish pad. It does not appear to be just on the surface. The actual color of the product has changed. Very frustrating as I was not warned that water could damage the counter.

No warranty on finish with Zodiaq - water staining
by: Skokie, IL

We have a black Zodiaq countertop and have discoloration... a lighter spot in the area where I set the dishes to dry on a towel.

I called DuPont and they only warranty the finish for 30 DAYS. They also gave me the name of a company in our area that may be able to fix the issue for $$$.

My take away is to ask a lot of questions about the warranty. I never would have thought to be concerned about WATER or common dish washing liquid.

These are after all kitchen counters. What do they think we do in here??

Quartz countertop cleaner info
by: Anonymous

More specifics about Vim please. Many products, several green bottles. What specifically did you use?

Possible Solution to Grease Spots
by: Anonymous

We just had dark gray Quartz countertops installed in our kitchen. A few days after they were installed we noticed some grease-like spots on one of them.

We called the manufacturer of the quartz countertop and they suggested that we use a small amount of Vim (the Green Bottle). Gently apply it with the sponge and rinse well.

Sure enough, the marks disappeared and have not returned. Whew, what a relief.

The manufacturer emphasized that the "green" bottle of Vim be used. I don't know why but it worked.

Staining & Etching of Cambria Black Quartz Countertop
by: Peter Roper

We just had an issue with a handyman who installed a new garbage disposal without removing the waste line plug for the dishwasher.

When we ran the dishwasher, the waste water from the dishwasher ended up coming out of the air gap on top of sink instead of draining out through the waste line.

The waste water from the dishwasher, which contains both Cascade detergent powder and Jet-Dry Finish rinse aid, ended up going onto our quartz countertop surface creating a white residual film on quartz countertop.

We tried several quartz cleaners but still unable to remove this white cloudy like film on the surface of quartz.

When I removed glasses from the cupboard that also had dishwasher soap on them from the mishap, I placed them on top of countertop and unfortunately they created white ring marks on the countertop surface which we were unable to remove.

Need some good advice on what we need to do to correct this problem with our Cambria quartz countertops. Thanks.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

It may be that chemicals in the dishwasher detergent bleached the quartz countertop. All quartz countertops are susceptible to chemical damage and discoloration.

Although, possibly it is just a soap film that can be removed with the proper cleaner like this soap film remover.

You may also try Bar Keeper's Friend which can be effective cleaning quartz stains in some cases.

Blotchy Stain on New Quartz Countertops
by: Beth

Brand new quartz countertops in dressing room/vanity. Not sure what got on the surface, but probably Liguid Gold or some other dusting product left of a rag left on the counter top.

It caused an almost patterned blotchy area. Wasn't told when installed how to care for or treat my quartz.

Is there anything I can do myself to get rid of the stained look?

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Scrub with Bar Keeper's Friend or VIM and a non-abrasive nylon pad. This is your best bet.

It won't remove every spot (some are permanent) but it works for removing many quartz countertop stains.

Quartz Countertop Problem
by: Anonymous

I had a similar experience and researched a bit on the internet about how to remove the glass-ring stains.

Several websites, including the manufacturer, suggested 4 products to use. One of those products was formula 409.

I used that and it did remove the ring, however, it caused more damage. It is as if it removed the "wet" look in the area I cleaned.

I would love to know how to restore this area of my countertop.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

It probably wasn't the 409 that dulled the surface. More likely is that an abrasive scrub pad was used and this removed the gloss effect in the area.

All quartz countertop brands recommend cleaning with non-abrasive pads like nylon scrubbers. Avoid the green and red scrub pads.

But then again, it is always best to test out any cleaner or soap on a hidden area of the countertop to check for any negative effects.

As for restoring it.... probably can't or at least it will take professional repolishing.

You can use this Topical Polish for Stone to enhance the shine, though.

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