How to Polish Formica

By: Contributors  | 
A kitchen countertop with a bowl of apples, pots and a vase.
Polish your old Formica to restore its original look. Image by Marie LaFauci / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • To polish Formica countertops, start by cleaning them with a mild detergent and water to remove any dirt or stains.
  • After cleaning the countertops, rinse them thoroughly with clean water and dry them with a soft cloth to avoid water spots and streaks.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasives or furniture polish on Formica, as these can damage the surface or leave difficult-to-remove residues.

Although Formica doesn't easily chip or scratch, and can withstand everyday wear and tear, it's not impervious to abuse (such as using it as a cutting board) [source: Formica]. In addition, age and environmental factors eventually take their toll. But that doesn't have to be a permanent condition. Before you start looking for a new countertop, try polishing your old Formica one to restore its original look. Be careful, though. Using the wrong method or material can do more harm than good.

Here's the right way how to polish Formica:


  1. Clean the Formica with a neutral cleanser, such as water and a mild detergent. If the stain is too stubborn, use a non-scratch cream or liquid, such as Cif [source: Formica]. Whatever you do, don't use commercial cleansers that are designed for household surfaces, such as stove tops, drains, tiles or toilet bowls. These products contain acids that can destroy Formica [source: Krehling Industries]. If the Formica's finish has a deep texture, use a nylon brush along with the cleanser to reach stains within the crevices.
  2. Rinse the Formica with clean water and then polish it dry with a soft cloth.
  3. Remove any residual marks or smears with a window cleaner. Avoid using furniture polish, as it contains silicone that can build up on the Formica surface and eventually lead to discoloration and streaks that cannot be easily removed [source: Formica].


Frequently Asked Questions

How often should Formica surfaces be polished to maintain their appearance?
Formica surfaces should be polished as needed, but generally a thorough polish once every few months is sufficient to maintain their appearance.
Can Formica surfaces withstand hot pots or pans directly from the stove?
No, placing hot pots or pans directly on Formica can damage the surface. Use trivets or heat-resistant mats to protect the countertop.