How to Clean Workbench Countertops

At Formaspace, we take product longevity seriously, and we’re sure you do too.

We’ve created a useful quick reference guide below that outlines the recommended cleaning techniques for keeping your workspace and desk countertops looking like new.

We’ve also included tips to avoid damaging your countertops through improper handling or using the wrong type of cleaning products. Remember: with proper care, your Formaspace furniture can look brand new for years to come.

 

Phenolic Resin Countertop

phenolic resin countertop

Phenolic Resin tops are made of an exceptionally hard material that is heat resistant, moisture resistant (non-absorbent), moderately chemical resistant, and easy to clean.

While many know the hard, black phenolic resin counter tops from high school or university chemistry labs, today’s phenolic material is also available in a variety of colors.

Field Applications

Phenolic Resin counter tops are used in numerous industrial processing labs, agriculture, water treatment facilities, photography labs, R&D and testing laboratories, as well as pharmaceutical and health care lab applications, such as radiology, microbiology, biochemical, hematology, and urology labs.

How to Clean Phenolic Resin tops

  • Wipe up spills immediately using a soft cloth.
  • Perform daily cleaning using a soft cloth and a gentle cleaning agent solution, such as Simple Green. Buff dry with a soft cloth or chamois to avoid water spotting.
  • A small amount of Murphy’s Oil or finish oil (mineral oil) can be applied using a clean rag to shine the surface. Buff with a chamois cloth.
  • Residues on the surface due to dragging metals across surface (known as marring) can be removed by scrubbing with a soft cloth and soap and water solution. Difficult cases may require acetone or even the use of a light duty Scotchbrite Pad (soaked in fluid, never dry). Steam cleaning is another alternative for removing organic compound stains.
  • If necessary, small scratches and nicks can be sanded out of the counter top followed by refinishing the surface.

Things to Avoid on Phenolic Resin tops

  • Avoid contact with sharp objects, hard metal tools, and abrasives.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning tools (steel wool, hard brushes), harsh cleansers including cleaners with abrasive ingredients (baking soda, Comet), bleach solutions, tub and tile cleaners, or oven cleaners.
  • Do not apply wax or cleaning materials which contain wax.
  • Avoid thermal shock. Do not put liquid nitrogen or dry ice directly into sinks or on counter tops

 

Epoxy Resin Countertop

epoxy resin countertop

Epoxy Resin tops are exceptionally strong and durable with the highest resistance to corrosive chemicals. They can also tolerate high temperatures.

Field Applications

Epoxy Resin counter tops are used in K-12 labs, university labs, applied science research labs, hospital labs, clinics, pharmaceutical labs, biomedical labs, molecular pathology labs, industrial testing facilities, chemical labs, including oil and spectrometry testing.

How to Clean Epoxy Resin tops

  • Wipe up spills immediately.
  • Use household products such as mild soap and water, or lemon, orange or citrus oil, or 50% vinegar water solution or Crystal Simple Green to clean surfaces using a soft cloth. Difficult spots can be cleaned with acetone if permitted. Wipe dry with a clean soft cloth to remove all cleaning residues and avoid water spotting.
  • It is better to soak caked-on drips or stains with cleaning materials rather than scrubbing.
  • Residues on the surface due to dragging metals across the surface (known as marring) can be removed by scrubbing with a soft cloth and soap and water solution. Difficult cases may require acetone or even use of a light duty Scotchbrite Pad (soaked in fluid, never dry). Steam cleaning is another alternative for removing organic compound stains.
  • A small amount of Murphy’s Oil or finish oil (mineral oil) can be applied using a clean rag to shine the surface. Buff with a chamois cloth.

Things to Avoid on Epoxy Resin tops

  • Avoid thermal shock. Do not put liquid nitrogen or dry ice directly into sinks or sit on counter tops
  • Avoid contact with sharp objects, hard metal tools, and abrasives.
  • In food preparation areas, use a separate cutting board. Do not cut directly against surface.
  • Avoid using dry Scotchbright pads or other abrasive pads or powders which will scratch surfaces.
  • Avoid using wax or polishes that contain wax.
  • Avoid spilling or applying rubbing alcohol onto the surface.
  • Avoid long-term exposure to sunlight or UV rays.

 

Plastic Laminate Top

plastic laminate countertop

Plastic Laminate tops (also known as high-pressure laminate) are a popular, economical, and durable solution for light to moderate duty applications.

It comes in a vast selection of colors and patterns and it can be cut, curved and customized to fit your exact size requirements.

Field Applications

As one of the most popular counter top materials, plastic laminate is used in nearly every possible field application, including K-12 labs, university labs, applied science research labs, hospital labs, clinics, pharmaceutical labs, biomedical labs, industrial testing facilities, chemical labs (including oil and spectrometry testing), office environments, light duty manufacturing, repair and packing stations, food and beverage applications, home kitchens and home workshops.

How to Clean Plastic Laminate tops

  • Commercial laminate coating/sealer products are available to help resist staining.
  • On a daily basis, wipe down the counter top with a soft cloth. To clean, use a mild detergent solution or special laminate cleaner.
  • Avoid exposing seams to moisture as it may penetrate underneath the laminate, resulting in swelling.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Spills that sit may make permanent stains.

    Use a 50% vinegar and water solution to remove greasy spills.

  • Coffee and tea stains can be removed by applying a baking soda paste mixed with household cleaner for five minutes then removing with a soft cloth. Stubborn stains may require an overnight application. Avoid rubbing baking soda paste if possible as it can damage the finish.
  • Ink stains can be removed by applying a tiny amount of nail polish remover using a white (not dyed) cotton ball or Q-Tip.

Things to Avoid on Plastic Laminate tops

  • Avoid using sharp objects or heavy tools directly on surface to prevent surface cuts, scratches, and chipping. Once the surface is scratched, it will stain more easily in the future.
  • Do not expose to heat to avoid scorching or burn marks.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning tools (steel wool, hard brushes), harsh cleansers including cleaners with abrasive ingredients (baking soda, Comet), bleach solutions, tub and tile cleaners, or oven cleaners.
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight or other UV light to prevent fading.

 

ESD Laminate Top

esd laminate top

ESD Laminate tops are designed to prevent unintended static electricity discharges which can damage sensitive electronic devices.

Field Applications

ESD Laminate counter tops are used in electronics design, testing, manufacturing and repair settings that handle sensitive electronic components which could be damaged or destroyed by errant static electric shocks.

How to Clean ESD Laminate tops

  • Clean bench surfaces with a soft cotton cloth soaked in a mild ammoniated detergent solution.
  • Prior to use, wipe down the surfaces with an approved ESD cleaner. Re-test the ESD properties of the surface as needed.

Things to Avoid on ESD Laminate tops

  • Avoid contact with sharp objects that can damage surfaces and reduce electrical shock resistance, including the use of brushes or abrasive cleaning tools.
  • Do not apply cleaning materials which contain wax or solvent ingredients. (Diluted ammonia is OK.)

 

Chemical Resistant Laminate Top

chemical resistant laminate

Chemical Resistant Laminate tops are a popular economical and durable solution for light to moderate duty applications – with the added benefit of resistance to many types of chemical spills.

Chemical Resistant Plastic Laminate counter tops are used in serology or urology labs, college labs, pathogenic labs, hospital bathrooms and nursing stations, photographic labs, mortuaries, dental offices and beauty salons.

How to Clean Chemical Resistant Laminate tops

  • Commercial laminate coating/sealer products are available to help resist staining.
  • Only a daily basis, wipe down the counter top with a soft cloth. To clean, use a mild detergent solution or special laminate cleaner.
  • Avoid exposing seams to moisture as it may penetrate underneath the laminate, resulting in swelling.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Spills that sit may make permanent stains.

    Use a 50% vinegar and water solution to remove greasy spills.

  • Coffee and tea stains can be removed by applying a baking soda paste mixed with household cleaner for five minutes then removing with a soft cloth. Stubborn stains may require an overnight application. Avoid rubbing baking soda paste if possible as it can damage the finish.
  • Ink stains can be removed by applying a tiny amount of nail polish remover using a white (not dyed) cotton ball or Q-Tip.

Things to Avoid on Chemical Resistant Laminate tops

  • Avoid using chemical resistant laminate in environments where surfaces may come in contact with carbon-based chemicals, conditions conducive to communicable diseases, or environments prohibiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Avoid using sharp objects or heavy tools directly on the surface to prevent surface cuts, scratches, and chipping. Once the surface is scratched, it will stain more easily in the future.
  • Do not expose to heat to avoid scorching or burn marks.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning tools (steel wool, hard brushes), harsh cleansers including cleaners with abrasive ingredients (baking soda, Comet), bleach solutions, tub and tile cleaners, or oven cleaners.
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight or other UV light to prevent fading.

 

Solid Wood Countertop

Kiln-dried solid hardwood tops add a warm, natural element to many environments. They are durable as well as spot and stain resistant. They develop an attractive patina over time through use.

Field Applications

Solid Wood counter tops are made of hardwoods, such as maple, making them ideal for a wide variety of uses, including high-end residential and office applications, kitchens, and heavy-duty industrial applications.

How to Clean Kiln-dried solid hardwood tops

  • When used in food preparation, butcher block counter surfaces need to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent bacteria development. The FDA recommends washing with hot soapy water after each use, with periodic sanitizing using a bleach solution. Rinse and dry after cleaning. Apply a food-safe mineral oil treatment as needed, typically every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Deep cuts and scars can be sanded down, refinished and resealed as required.

Things to Avoid on Kiln-dried solid hardwood tops

  • Avoid any long-term exposure to water, which can stain the surface and penetrate the glue joints.
  • If using for food preparation (e.g. cutting food directly on the surface), avoid polyurethane or other synthetic finishes (including non-food safe mineral oil treatments).
  • On the other hand, it is useful to apply waterproof finishes to wood counter tops in wet areas (e.g. next to sinks) as long as these particular wood surface areas are not used as a cutting board for food preparation.

 

Stainless Steel Countertop

Stainless Steel tops are exceptionally long-lasting, easy-to-clean, and tolerant to high temperatures. The surface is non-absorbent / non-porous, which helps make stainless steel surfaces very resistant to bacterial growth.

Field Applications

Stainless steel counter tops are recommended for carbon-based chemical labs, biomedical, pharmaceuticals, clean rooms, and specialty settings.

As a 100% low-energy recyclable product with an infinite lifespan, stainless steel is also recommended for environmentally sensitive applications, such as LEED certified projects.

How to Clean Stainless Steel tops

  • Clean spills immediately with a soft clean cloth. Always wipe dry in the direction of the stainless steel ‘grain’.
  • To remove grease or baked on foods, use a mild detergent with hot water. Clean with a soft nylon scrubby. Rinse and wipe dry in the direction of the grain using a soft or micro-fiber cloth.
  • Tougher stains can be removed by applying a paste of baking soda and liquid dish soap. Use a toothbrush to clean in the direction of the grain. Resistant stains can be treated with a 100% vinegar solution. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth in the direction of the grain.
  • Surfaces NOT used for food preparation can be treated / buffed with commercial stainless steel buffing polishes, lemon oil, or silicone sprays formulated for stainless steel surfaces.

Things to Avoid on Stainless Steel tops

  • Avoid wiping surfaces in random or circular patterns. Instead, wipe in the direction of the stainless steel grain, working from top to bottom.
  • Avoid using any chlorine bleach or chloride-based chemicals as these can permanently damage the stainless steel surface.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning tools (steel wool, steel or other hard brushes or other abrasive cleaning pads), harsh cleansers including cleaners with abrasive ingredients (baking soda, Comet), or oven cleaners.
  • Avoid using excessively hard or dirty water to clean surfaces to prevent staining and spot.

 

Powder Coated Steel Top

powder coated steel

Powder Coated Steel tops are protected with a thin but very tough film of thermoplastic that fully envelops the steel surface. During the heat curing process, the thermoplastic powder begins to melt, forming a smooth gel that blends over the metal surface

The final product is a tough yet resilient, hardened layer of plastic that provides a level of corrosion and ‘wear and tear’ protection far superior to traditional corrosion protection treatments, such as chrome plating, zinc coating or painting.

Field Applications

Powder coating is used on the frames of nearly all Formaspace steel furniture. Powder coating can also be specified for the worksurface where it is suitable for medium-duty applications in industry, manufacturing, and laboratory settings.

Offices that want the ‘industrial-look’ can specify a “clear” powder coating material to preserve the “raw metal” industrial look.

How to Clean Powder Coated Steel tops

  • Clean spills immediately with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Only a daily basis, wipe down the counter top with a soft cloth.
  • Wash the surface at least once every three months with a mild detergent solution of gentle dish soap and warm water. Avoid wetting the edges of the surface to prevent moisture reaching the steel underneath the surface. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth or chamois.

Things to Avoid on Powder Coated Steel tops

  • Avoid contact with objects that can cut, or scratch the powder coating protection layer. If moisture gains access to the underlying metal, it can begin to corrode. Accidentally dropping heavy objects on the surface can also dent the underlying steel.
  • Avoid the use of metal brushes, use soft plastic or nylon brushes, soft cloths or sponges instead.
  • Avoid using dry Scotchbright pads or other abrasive pads or powders which will scratch the surfaces.
  • Avoid accidental impacts that can cause dents, such as dropping heavy objects on the surface.
  • Unless the powder coating material is rated as UV resistant, avoid direct exposure to sunlight or other UV light to prevent fading.
  • Avoid using chemical cleaners such as Acetone, Mineral Spirits, Turpentine or Lacquer thinners.

 

Galvanized Steel Top

galvanized steel

Galvanized Steel tops are a lower cost alternative to stainless steel.

Galvanized steel is very tough. Zinc plating prevents corrosion.

Field Applications

Galvanized Steel counter tops are used in industrial, manufacturing, production environments where its lower cost (significantly less than stainless steel) is important.

Also used in “industrial look” office environments where its unique appearance stands out.

How to Clean Galvanized Steel tops

  • Galvanized steel can get an unsightly white staining when stored outside in wet conditions, known as ‘wet storage stain’. Dry the affected area to allow the zinc patina to reform. If cleaning is still required, the American Galvanized Association recommends applying one of these products: CLR®,
    Lime juice,
    Naval Jelly® Rust Dissolver,
    Picklex™ 10G or
    White vinegar to the stained area and scrubbing with a nylon bristle brush. Rinse and dry the surface. In extreme cases, the surface may need to be stripped and re-galvanized.
  • To clean organic compound stains, the American Galvanized Association recommends applying one of these products: Comet®,
    Bleach,
    Goof Off®,
    Simple Green®
    The Must for Rust®, or
    Stainless Steel Cleaner, then rinsing with water and drying the surface.

Things to Avoid on Galvanized Steel tops

  • Do not use for food preparation (to prevent zinc absorption into food).
  • Avoid high humidity environments.
  • Avoid contact with objects that can scratch surfaces or wear off the protective zinc plating, otherwise, the surface can begin to rust.
  • Avoid using metal brushes, use plastic or nylon ones instead.
  • Avoid accidental impacts that can cause dents, such as dropping heavy objects on the surface.
  • Avoid beverage spills or other contact with liquid.
  • Avoid using vinegar, muriatic acid or ammonia cleaners, which can affect the surface appearance.

 

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) Countertop

hdpe countertop

HDPE (High-density polyethylene) is a strong, soft material that resists many types of acids, caustics, stains, and odor causing bacteria. It is resistant to moisture, UV rays and high impacts.

Versions of HDPE are FDA food grade compliant.

Field Applications

As HDPE is softer than most materials (including many types of plastic), HDPE is often used as a counter top material in product manufacturing, inspection and packing station applications in order to prevent accidental scratching of finished goods during handling.

HDPE is also used in laboratory environments and food and beverage industry applications (including outdoor kitchen counter tops) where its resistance to solvents, moisture (low absorbency), and bacteria is important.

How to Clean HDPE (High-density polyethylene) tops

  • Use a nylon scrubber or stiff nylon brush (avoid excessive pressure) with either Simple Green cleaner or Soft Scrub. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can also be used.
  • Use a citrus cleaner, alcohol or mineral spirits to clean petroleum-based grease or oil stains.
  • Persistent stains can be removed by soaking with diluted bleach. Light sanding may be used, however, it will alter the finish.

Things to Avoid on HDPE (High-density polyethylene) tops

  • Avoid gouging or scratching.
  • Avoid marking with pen or pencil.
  • Avoid exposure to open flame or temperatures above 180F.
  • Do not use 100% chlorine products (typically used to treat swimming pools) to clean HDPE surfaces.
  • Do not use MEK, turpentine or naphtha solvents.

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