Marble is a beautiful and long-lasting natural stone surface for covering countertops, tables, floors, showers, and more. Although this material isn’t necessarily difficult to clean, it does require a bit of maintenance and damage prevention to keep it looking its best. In this guide, we cover how to clean marble and how to prevent damage to your surfaces.
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General Tips for Cleaning Marble
Cleaning marble requires different products and methods than other surfaces. Additionally, it is susceptible to staining, scratching, and other damage if you use the wrong cleanser or even the wrong cloth or sponge. Generally speaking, you don’t want to use too much elbow grease, which could result in scratching, which on marble is usually referred to as “etching.”
Do’s and Don’ts
The most important thing to know is to use a mild, pH-neutral, non-abrasive soap. There are special marble cleaning solutions out there, but regular dish soap works well. You can mix a little soap into warm water in a spray bottle or simply put a few drops onto a wet cloth. Wipe the marble surface down with this sudsy cloth and follow immediately with a rinse and a dry. Be careful not to use too much soap, which may leave a film behind.
Acidic cleaners like vinegar, Windex, and bleach should not come into contact with marble. Even a lemon wedge can begin to eat into marble within seconds. Many rust-removing solutions contain acid, so keep them away from marble as well. Similarly, gritty cleaners that contain abrasive particles or rough sponges will scratch the finish of the marble. Alkali, or basic, substances will also damage it.
Prevention is the name of the game when it comes to keeping marble clean and stain-free. As soon as any liquid spills on a marble surface, sop it up with a paper towel. Try to blot spills instead of wiping them, which will spread the liquid over a larger area. Be especially quick about spills of alcohol or citrus drinks. Immediately douse the area with warm, soapy water and rinse repeatedly to get rid of any remaining staining liquid.
Additionally, depending on the type of marble you have, you’ll probably want to invest in a marble sealant, which you should apply once a month. This product will strengthen the finish of the marble. You’ll still have to clean spills immediately, but using sealant will give you a few more minutes before they become emergencies. However, there are a few types of marble that won’t absorb sealant, so pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Cleaning Specific Marble Surfaces
The above recommendations work for pretty much all marble surfaces, but there are a few specifics to keep in mind depending on the location of the marble in your home. Many of these tips rely on prevention, which will keep you from having to spend hours cleaning.
How to Clean Marble Floors
Marble as a flooring material is most prone to scratching, so your job here is to remove dirt, grit, or sand as soon as possible. Start with a clean, dry dust mop to get up the bulk of the dirt. You can use a vacuum cleaner, but make sure any parts of the vacuum that come in contact with the floor (for example, the wheels) are in good condition so as not to etch the marble. For caked-in grime, you can use a steam cleaner, but always be sure to dry each area of marble after you steam it.
Area rugs or doormats placed at entrance and exits are a good idea to prevent tracking dirt across the floor in the first place. It’s also a good idea to put any furniture on pads or coasters to prevent scratching or gouging.
How to Clean Marble Countertops
Countertops can pose a special challenge because cooking often involves using acidic ingredients. Always use a cutting board, and consider investing in silicone mats to act as a barrier between spills and the countertop. Again, clean spills immediately, especially if they involve acidic liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato juice. While marble is heat-resistant, you’ll still want to use trivets under hot pans, pots, or dishes.
How to Clean a Marble Table
Tabletop marble is subject to many of the same risks as countertop marble. Always use coasters under beverage containers, whether hot or cold, and clean up spills as soon as they happen. You’ll even want to wipe away spilled water with a clean, dry cloth to prevent a film from forming.
How to Clean a Marble Shower
When it comes to marble in the bathroom, your job is to prevent soap scum. Use a squeegee to scrape water and soap off the walls of the shower every single time you use it. This will prevent soap from damaging the marble’s finish. You can use a steam cleaner here, too, to remove any stubborn grime, but be sure to dry or squeegee the area immediately afterward.
Removing Stains from Marble
At some point, there’s probably going to be a spill that you don’t get to in time, and the marble will begin to stain. Once you’ve cleaned the spill, go to work on the stain as soon as you can. Stains from organic materials like coffee, wine, food, or pet urine are best treated with a solution of 12% hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of ammonia. An oil-based stain like milk, cosmetics, or cooking oil should be lifted with acetone or mineral spirits and then rinsed away.
An ink stain can be bleached off of lighter-colored marble or removed from darker-colored marble with lacquer thinner or acetone. You can also use lacquer thinner very carefully to remove small spills of paint, but keep in mind it may etch the marble.
Buffing Scratches from Marble
Both etching and hard water stains can cause damage to marble surfaces that needs to be buffed away. For water spots and light surface etching, use dry, superfine, 0000-rated steel wool. For deeper scratches and nicks, you may need to call in a professional to re-polish the surface.
Since prevention is such a large part of keeping marble clean, consider investing in the services of a professional cleaning company to properly maintain your countertops, floors, or shower. The Cleaning Authority is a reputable cleaning service that offers a variety of housekeeping packages. For more information, you can get a free online estimate from The Cleaning Authority.
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