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How To Clean Marble

Marble is beautiful, but it requires some special care to keep clean—like mopping up spills immediately and avoiding acidic or abrasive cleansers. Learn how to clean marble with our list of tips and tricks.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 02/24/2024

Marble is a beautiful, long-lasting natural stone surface that’s great for covering countertops, tables, floors, showers, and more. Although marble 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.

General Tips for Cleaning Marble

Cleaning marble requires different products and methods than other surfaces. 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, as this could result in scratching—which on marble is usually referred to as “etching.”

What To Use

Preventing Stains

The most important thing to know is to use a mild, pH-neutral, non-abrasive soap. There are special marble cleaning solutions, but regular dish soap works well. 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. Alkaline or basic substances will also damage it.
Prevention is key when it comes to keeping marble clean and stain-free. As soon as a liquid spills on a marble surface, sop it up with a paper towel. Blot spills instead of wiping them to avoid spreading 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 remove 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, a few types of marble won’t absorb sealant, so pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The above recommendations work for most 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 save you hours of cleaning.

Marble floors are 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 they don’t etch the marble. You can use a steam cleaner for caked-in grime, but always be sure to dry each area of marble after you steam it.

Area rugs or doormats placed at entrances and exits are a good idea to prevent tracking dirt across the floor in the first place. You can also put any furniture on pads or coasters to prevent scratching or gouging.

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.

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.

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 shower walls 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, 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 mixed 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 it may etch the marble.

Buffing Scratches From Marble

Both etching and hard water stains may require buffing to avoid causing damage to marble surfaces. 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.

Professional Help for Marble Cleaning

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.

Our Conclusion

Marble can elevate the style of your kitchen, bathroom, and bar area, but natural stone requires regular upkeep to maintain its beauty. Keep your marble free from dirt and spills, reseal it periodically, and choose the right cleaning products to maintain your marble’s lovely sheen.

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