The Marble Cleaning Guide
Cleaning marble is a task that requires special tools and a very specific process in order to protect the marble and get the best results. Natural stone is a beautiful addition to any home, but it is also an expensive one and it deserves the special attention that it needs to maintain its beauty and provide a long-lasting finish.
Like many natural materials, marble cannot be cleaned by just any household cleaner. This guide will cover everything that you need to know about cleaning and maintaining your marble tiles or slabs, including which products you can and can’t use, and more.
Meet Marble: A Calcium Carbonate Composite
Marble is a delicate, porous material. It is composed primarily of calcium carbonate, which means that it is sensitive to acids.
Therefore, even something as seemingly unsuspecting as a drop of lemon juice can dull the surface by eating away at the top layers. Etches, as these blemishes are known, are bound to happen.
Some homeowners choose to leave them as a “character” element, while others want to grind and re-polish the surface overtime to keep the smooth finish.
That's a personal choice, but you have to be aware that you will never be able to keep marble in perfect condition at all times.
General Marble Cleaning Guidelines and Tips
Part of the reason marble is so popular is because it is so easy to keep clean. Of course, you need to avoid acidic cleaners and household products for the best results. There are speciality marble cleaners available, but even those may not have the safest ingredients.
Get in the habit of reading labels to look for neutral, non-abrasive products that can clean your marble. You can also use a simple, mild soap and water mixture, which is really just as good as anything so long as you clean your marble regularly.
Simply apply whatever cleaner you are using to the marble surface and then use a non-abrasive cloth to gently scrub the area, wiping it clean to remove the soap residue completely.
Then, dry the marble with a soft towel and use a circular buffing motion to create a little extra shine in the surface. Cleaning marble is a relatively simple process and it won’t be labour-intensive if you keep up on it.
Do NOT Use:
- Vinegar, bleach, ammonia, or household general-purpose cleaners
- Abrasive cleaners or scouring pads that can scratch the marble’s delicate surface
- Cleaning products not specially formulated for natural stone
- Products that claim they can be used on marble too, but are designed for other stone or tile materials
- Be very careful when cleaning your oven racks and leaving them to dry on your marble benchtop, the acid from your oven cleaner could damage the stone beyond repair.
Marble Stains: Removal and Prevention Tips
Stains happen, and with something as porous as marble, it’s going to require a little more effort for you to keep stains from setting in and requiring major removal efforts. Always get in the habit of cleaning up spills immediately and keep your marble sealed, which may require reapplication every six to eight months for best results.
If you do run into stubborn stains, there are some definite tips to help you get rid of them. Here's a rundown of the most common stains and how to best remove them from your marble surfaces.
When you are dealing with food stains and other organic stains, such as coffee, wine, paper, tobacco, and even fruit stains, you can use a mixture of ammonia and peroxide. You'll want to add a few drops of ammonia to 12% hydrogen peroxide and wipe the area with the solution to remove the stain. Rinse the area with water and dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is stubborn, you may want to let the solution sit for a while before wiping it clean.
Cooking oil, milk, grease, and other oil-based stains on marble have to be cleaned with chemicals. Acceptable cleansers that can effectively remove oil stains include mineral spirits, bleach, acetone, or ammonia.
Mould and Mildew
Biological stains like mould and mildew can be cleaned from your marble surfaces using a combination of hydrogen peroxide, water, and dish detergent. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution and then wipe the area clean until the stain is gone. Make sure that when you are using bleach, you always wipe the area with water to remove any residue.
Although less common, ink stains on marble do happen, and they can be stubborn to remove. Your best options will be to use acetone or hydrogen peroxide, which are both ideal at removing newer ink stains. You should always rinse the area with water, as well. In the event that you have set-in ink stains, you can mix flour with acetone or peroxide to create a poultice or paste, that can be left on the area for up to 24 hours before removing.
If you can do it delicately, the best way to remove paint is to scrape it off with a razor blade. Large stains or smears can be removed with a thinner or paint stripper, although this might damage the top of the polish and require a resurfacing once the stains are removed. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the stripper or thinner and use proper safety precautions along the way.
In marble, rust stains almost always require a poultice, or paste, that is designed to clean marble specifically. You can buy pre-mixed commercial products that are designed to be mixed with water and applied to the area to remove rust. The poultice should be mixed and thoroughly applied to the area, then secured with plastic and tape and left for 24-48 hours. When you remove the poultice, it should remove the rust stains, as well.
Prevention and Prompt Clean Up Is Key
Marble is beautiful, but it can also be tricky to maintain. Fortunately, as long as you seal it regularly and clean up messes immediately, you will have much less to worry about. When you do need to clean or tackle stubborn stains, the tips in this guide should help you get the best results every time. Our blog is jam-packed full of other cleaning resources that can assist if you’re in a tricky situation.
Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.