Proper stone care and maintenance is to understand your stone’s geological classification and composition. The information in this guide will help you to identify what cleaning products to use and how to maintain your natural stone countertops and backsplash, shower walls, tub surrounds and/or floors.

It’s simple to maintain your marble and keep it looking new:

Coasters: Use coasters under all glasses, particularly containing citrus juices or alcohol.

Trivets: While most natural stones are resistant to heat, the use of trivets or mats is recommended.

Dust Mopping: Using a clean, non-treated, dry dust mop, dust interior floors thoroughly. Grit, Sand and dirt are abrasive and can damage your natural stone floors.

Mats/Rugs: Mats or area rugs inside and out of an entrance will help minimize sand and dirt that may scratch the surface of natural stone. Ensure that the underside of the rug is slip resistant.

Vacuum Cleaners: When using a vacuum, ensure all attachments and wheels are smooth as they can scratch the surface of some stones.

Spills: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. When cleaning up spills, do not wipe the area, as that only spreads the spill. Flush the area with water mixed with a mild cleaner and rinse. Repeat this step if needed. Thoroughly dry the area with a soft cloth.


How to clean marble countertops

  1. Clean surfaces with a mild cleaner, stone soap, or mild dishwashing detergent and warm water. You can also buy specialty cleaners for natural stone.
  2. When cleaning your countertop, make sure not to use excessive cleaner or soap as this can leave a film and cause streaks.
  3. Always use a clean rag mop or soft cloth for all marble surfaces as dirt on the cloth or mop can be abrasive to the surface of some natural stones.
  4. After washing, dry thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth.
  5. During washing and rinsing, change your rinse water frequently.
  6. In wet areas such as the bathroom, use a squeegee after each use to minimize soap scum buildup.

To remove soap scum: Use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water. ½ cup ammonia to 1 gallon of water. Frequent or over-use of ammonia solution may dull the surface of some types of natural stone.7.   When cleaning marble surfaces in an outdoor setting such as, pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove any algae or moss. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Cleaning Products

  1. Many suppliers offer natural stone cleaning products.
  2. Products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids may dull or etch some natural stones. It is recommended that you read the precautions on the label before using.
  3. Scouring creams and powders often contain abrasives that may scratch your stone.
  4. Many commercially available rust removers, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry rust removers contain hydrofluoric acid (HF). This acid breaks down silicates in addition to some other minerals. All natural stones, including granite and quartzite can be damaged if exposed to HF.
  5. Never mix ammonia and bleach as this creates a lethal gas.

Sealing

Sealing is a common step taken on some stones as an extra precaution against staining. Sealing products used in the natural stone industry are called “impregnators,” which actually don’t seal the stone but are used as a repellent. Sealing does not make the stone stain-proof but more stain resistant. Some stones do not require sealing however; in these cases, applying an impregnating sealer is common practice.

Stain Identification Tips Stains can be oil based, metallic, biological, organic, ink, paint or acid based. If you don’t know what caused the stain, consider what staining agents have likely been present.
For example:

  • Is it near a plant, food preparation area, or an area where cosmetics are used?
  • What color is it?
  • What is the shape or pattern?
  • What occurs in the area around the stain?

What Type of Stain Is It?
The following sections describe the types of stains and the appropriate household chemicals to use for them; as well as some additional cleaning recommendations.

Oil-Based
(Grease, plumber’s putty, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics)
An oil-based stain will darken the color of the stone and typically is chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft cloth and: household detergent, mineral spirits or acetone. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.

Organic
(Coffee, wine, tea, tobacco, fruit, paper, food, urine, leaves, tree sap, bird droppings)
Organic materials can cause a pinkish-brown stain that should disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. However, you can clean the surface with, a 12% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia. For outdoor use: Remove the source of the stain. The sun, and rain will typically bleach out any stains that may appear.

Metallic-Based
(Iron, rust, copper, bronze)
Iron or rust stains are an orange-brown color and typically follow the shape of the staining object. Examples of these items are nails, bolts, screws, flowerpots, cans, and metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as a green or muddy-brown color and result from moisture on bronze, copper, or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice, which is described lower on this page. Deep-seated metal stains are very difficult to remove and may cause the stone to be permanently stained.

Biological
(Algae, lichens, moss, fungi, mildew, mold)
Mix ½ cup of ammonia, or bleach or hydrogen peroxide with a gallon of water. Rinse well after cleaning and dry thoroughly. Reminder: NEVER mix bleach and ammonia as it produces a toxic gas.

Ink
(Permanent marker, pigmented ink, printer cartridge ink, dye ink)
On light-colored stone, clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. For dark-colored stone, clean with acetone or with lacquer thinner.

Paint
You can remove small amounts of pain by scraping carefully with a razor blade or by using lacquer thinner. Heavy paint should be removed with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper. You can find paint stripper at any paint center or hardware store. These strippers contain caustic soda or lye, which can etch the surface of your marble; professional refinishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products and flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Always wear protective clothing while using these products, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing curdled paint and sludge. Latex and acrylic paints will not usually cause staining; however, oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants can cause oily stains. Refer to the oil-based stain section of this guide.

Water Spots and Rings
(Surface accumulation of hard water)
Carefully buff the surface of the marble with dry 0000 steel wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage
Older stones and smoke or fire-stained fireplace surrounds may require a thorough cleaning. When smoke is removed, it could leave etching (due to acids and carbonic in the smoke). You can purchase commercial “a commercial smoke remover. .

Etch Marks
(Caused by acids being left on the surface of the stone)
 Some acids will not leave a stain but will etch the finish, while others may etch and stain the stone. If this occurs to your marble product, contact your stone dealer or a professional stone restorer for refinishing or re-polishing etching.

Efflorescence
(A white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone)
Efflorescence is caused by the deposition of mineral salts carried by water from below the surface of the stone. The powdery substance is what remains after water has evaporated. If the installation is new, dust or vacuum up the powder. You may have to clean it often during the stones drying process. Do not use water to remove the powder, as it will only reappear. If the problem persists contact your installer to help identify the source of the moisture.

Scratches and Nicks
Slight surface scratches can be buffed with a dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface should be re-polished, repaired or refinished by a professional.

Natural Stone Is Easy to Clean and Maintain
Call your professional installer, supplier, or restoration specialist for any problems that appear too difficult to handle.

Spills and Stains
Blot the stain with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, as that only spreads the stain. Flush the area with clean water and mild soap, then rinse thoroughly. Dry the area with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary. If the stain remains, refer to the section on how to clean certain stains in this guide.

Stain Removal. If you don’t know what caused the stain go through a list of possibilities and try to rule each one out.
For example:

  • Where is the stain located?
  • What is the shape or pattern?
  • What goes on in the area around the stain?

Surface stains can be removed with an appropriate cleaning product or a diluted mixture of household chemicals. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling a professional.

Poultice Materials
The materials you will use to create a poultice include Kaolin, Fuller’s Earth, Whiting, Diatomaceous Earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster, or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material can cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as Fuller’s Earth with acidic chemicals, as the reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared by using white paper towels, cotton balls, or gauze pads.

Making the Poultice
A poultice is a liquid cleaner of chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of ¼ to ½ inch. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain and into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may be repeated to thoroughly remove the stain. Some stains may not be able to be removed in this case please consult with a professional re-finisher or restorer.

Applying the Poultice
After preparing a powder-based poultice, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste. (About the consistency of peanut butter) If using paper, soak it in the chemical and let it drain. Don’t let the liquid drip.

  • Wet the stained area with distilled water.
  • Apply the poultice to the stained area about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Extend the poultice beyond the actual stained area to ensure proper coverage. Use a wood or plastic scraper to spread the poultice evenly.
  • Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges down to seal it. 
  • Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly, typically 24 to 48 hours. The drying process is what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. After 24 hours remove the plastic and allow the poultice to fully dry.
  • Remove the poultice from the stain and rinse with distilled water. Use the wood or plastic scraper if needed. Buff dry with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Repeat the poultice again if the stain has not been removed. It could take up to five times for the stain to be completely removed.

If using the poultice causes etching, apply a polishing powder and buff with a burlap or felt buffing pad to restore the finish.

Cleaning Agents or Chemicals

Oil-Based Stains
Poultice with baking soda and water OR powdered poultice material and mineral spirits.

Organic Stains
Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 12% hydrogen peroxide solution OR use acetone instead of hydrogen peroxide.

Iron Stains
Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are very difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.

Copper Stains
Poultice with one of the powdered materials and ammonia. These stains are very difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.

Biological Stains
Poultice with dilute ammonia or bleach or hydrogen peroxide. NEVER mix ammonia and bleach – that combination creates a lethal gas.

 

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