Marble is a beautiful choice for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, fireplaces and more. Marble is a wonderful natural stone with a very nice finish, but marble – like many
things – can be damaged over time after much wear and tear. So how do you clean marble countertops or polish your marble countertops, fireplaces, vanities, etc. to keep the marble looking bright and shiny? There are some very simple tips for cleaning marble that you should follow when you decide to have marble in your home.
The first step in cleaning marble is to prepare the marble for cleaning. Prepare the surface of the marble by removing all dirt, grime, grease, waxes and stains with a commercial stone cleaner. You want to remove all these contaminants from your marble first so that you don’t force them deeper into the surface when polishing the marble. The following article from HowToCleanThings.comoffers simple and easy-to-follow tips on how to clean marble in your home. After you decide to have marble in your home – whether you have marble countertops or a marble fireplace – make sure you know how to properly clean and polish marble so you can keep your marble beautiful and long-lasting.
How to Clean Marble
If you have even a scrap of marble in your home, consider yourself fortunate to be in the presence of one the most beautiful stones around. Marble is a limestone that has metamorphosed through heat and pressure, and in the process mixed with natural elements to produce the colors and intricate veining that has so many people pining away for it. And who could blame them? If only you didn’t have to keep it clean…
There are two very important things to know when wondering how to clean marble. The first is this: marble is not granite. People often confuse the two, or lump them together, but there are some major differences between marble and granite – mainly, that marble is much softer than granite, so it stains and wears more easily and cannot be treated in the same ways. The second thing to remember is that you must never use vinegar to clean marble. We often recommend vinegar on our site because it is a natural cleaning product that doesn’t harm you or (most of the time) what you’re cleaning. In this case, however, the acidic quality of vinegar (as well as many other cleaning products, like bathroom cleaners or those with lemon) will etch – dull – the surface of your marble. How to clean marble safely? Take a minimalist approach and go stronger only if you need to.
Cleaning Marble Countertops and Floors
For everyday marble cleaning, keep it simple.
For quick touch-ups, less is definitely more. Use a soft cloth (I recommend a microfiber one) and warm, distilled water to clean marble countertops – especially after contact with food – and then use another cloth to dry the surface. Marble is very prone to water spots, so it is a good idea to never let it air dry. For cleaning marble floors, dust-mopping with a microfiber mop or soft cloth should be sufficient on a day-to-day basis, or plain hot water if you need to get rid of any marks. Again, remember to avoid vinegar and other acidic cleaners when cleaning marble, even if you really, really love the smell of Pine Sol.
When your in-laws are visiting, get out the big(ger) guns for that marble.
You’re going to need more than warm water this time. That’s not to say you should go overboard; it is still important to remember that marble is delicate. A ph-neutral dishsoap is probably best when you do your deeper marble cleaning, but you may also use acetone (for dark marble only, to be safe), hydrogen peroxide (for light marble), or clear ammonia mixed with water. You can purchase a non-abrasive marble cleaner, of course, but shop cautiously. If you’re nervous about damage to the stone, visit a store that sells marble and they’ll be able to help you out. Whichever product you choose, be sure to rinse thoroughly so there’s no residue left, always dry completely, and make sure you don’t slip on your slick marble floor!
Clean marble stains as soon as possible.
Just like acidic cleaners, acidic “stuff” in general is bad for your marble. This includes wine, orange juice, tomatoes and even soft drinks, so get any spills up right away by blotting them – wiping or rubbing can make the problem worse. If you’re left with a stain anyway, use a commercial marble stain remover (remember to choose wisely) or make your own. Try making a poultice (a “soft, moist mass” – not just a medical term) out of a fine powder like whiting or baking soda, going for a peanut butter-like consistency. For oil-based stains (cosmetics, grease), use the powder with some water or rubbing alcohol. For water-based ones (coffee, tea), mix the powder with either hydrogen peroxide or acetone. When you have your poultice, wet the stain and apply the mixture. Tape plastic wrap over it and let dry (usually at least 24 hours); the drying process should lift the stain out.
Protect your marble to save yourself a lot of trouble.
Use those coasters you got from Aunt Hilda, even if they’re ugly. Be careful not to place anything hot on your marble countertops, and use ceramic or stone containers instead of metal to avoid rust stains. If you have marble in your bathroom, put felt under a tray for your cosmetics, perfumes, hairspray, aftershave, etc. For marble flooring, place rugs in high-traffic areas and remove your shoes at the door, and use pads under your furniture. Oh, and save the standing, sitting and dancing around like a maniac for your marble floors – not your countertops.
Make your marble shine.
Wondering how to polish marble? Well, you have a lot of options. The safest and easiest way to polish marble is with a chamois (shammy) on a damp surface; the chamois will polish at the same time as it dries. If you want more shine, try a commercial polish and then dry with the chamois. You can also use baking soda and a stick of chalk to polish marble. First wipe your marble with a baking soda mixture (3 Tbsp. soda to 1 qt. water) and let it air-dry (this time it’s okay) for a few hours before rinsing it. Next, moisten a fresh cloth and dip it in crushed chalk, wipe your marble, then rinse and dry thoroughly. If you’d rather not crush chalk or launder a bunch of chamois, use a commercial floor polisher or consult a professional.
Consider adding a marble sealer and your marble may live longer.
Not all stone necessarily requires a sealer, especially since often it is sealed when it is made and/or installed. Because marble is quite porous, however (and because sealer loses its effect over time), it is wise to use a sealer to protect against staining and interior damage. A sealer isn’t foolproof, but it resists moisture for a lot longer than a surface that is not sealed; this matters when it comes to spills or mud on the floor – it buys you time, at least. Before applying a marble sealer, try to find out if and when sealer was applied and what brand was used. Some sealers need to be re-applied every year or two, others every fifteen to twenty years. If you do apply a marble sealer, be sure to use one that is nontoxic and – if you’re using it on countertops – safe for food preparation.
Cleaning Marble FAQ
What About Scratches on Marble?
Now that you know how to clean marble, you may be wondering how to deal with scratches. If the scratch is slight, you can try fixing it yourself by using a course-grit sandpaper (starting at a 120 and working up to a 320) or 0000 steel wool. If the scratch is deep, however, or if you’re uneasy about doing it yourself and possibly damaging your marble (I would be uneasy), consult a professional.
What About Wax on Marble?
Some people use wax on marble because it can polish as well as protect, but it can also lead to discoloration – especially if your marble is white. For best results, try other methods first.
What About the “Other” Marbles?
Although marble commonly takes the form of countertops and flooring, it can be found in a lot of other places like showers, tubs, headstones, decorative objects, fireplaces, fountains and benches. And the list goes on. Basically, you already know how to clean marble: follow the same guidelines for this stuff as you would for your marble countertops and marble flooring, keeping in mind that it’s best to clean marble with a mild approach first.
It’s so important to keep your marble clean and polished as much as you can so that you avoid an unnecessary damage to the marble surface. Marble countertops are gorgeous additions to any home, no matter where you have marble installed – marble countertops, marble fireplaces, marble vanities, marble bathrooms, etc. – but it can get more costly than you wanted it to if you don’t practice proper marble cleaning. Marble has stood the test of time, and marble is meant to be used. But remember that a little cleaning goes a long way in maintaining the beauty and durability of marble.
While it may seem like a lot of effort to keep your marble countertops clean, polished and beautiful, caring for your marble is really very simple. It’s just learning a few important tips and tricks on how to clean marble and incorporating that advice into your normal marble cleaning routine. The above advice on how to clean marble, along with asking your marble contractor questions about caring for your marble countertops, will put you in a great position for enjoying your marble countertops for a very long time. Long live your custom marble countertops!