The Best Ways To Clean Marble Countertops and Remove Stains

Waterfall Lane Kitchen Redesign Tuscaloosa Alabama

Marble countertops are a luxurious addition to any kitchen or bath. So how do you maintain and clean them?

When it comes to natural stone, nothing is quite as luxurious and rich as marble. With its beautiful veining, marble gives the impression of movement and can add elegance to any countertop, floor or surface in your home. The one concern with marble comes with cleaning and maintaining this popular porous surface. Marble is famously susceptible to staining and etching, especially when used as a countertop material in the kitchen.

The good news is, caring for marble may be easier than you've heard. Here are a few tips for keeping your marble countertops clean, maintained and looking beautiful almost forever!

View a traditional marble kitchen in the Waterfall neighborhood in Tuscaloosa.

Clean Marble As You Go, and Keep It Clean!

The fact is, if properly sealed when installed and maintained by resealing every year or so, stains are a relatively small problem. The real problem with marble comes from a process called etching. Because marble is composed of calcium carbonate it is very susceptible to acidic substances like lemon juice, tomato sauce, alcohol or vinegar. The acid in these substances reacts with the calcium carbonate in the stone to create permanent markings that look like dull, slightly darker spots or rings on the marble. These marks are very subtle and in some light, may not be easily visible, but certain lighting will reveal these dulled areas.

Anytime an acidic substance splashes, drips or is spilled and comes in contact with the surface it must be wiped up immediately. While avoiding spills is of course the best method of keeping your countertops clean, experts suggest that the best treatment is to wipe up the spill and clean the area with only mild soap and water. Using a non-abrasive sponge or cloth is best, but it will not work on etching or stains that have had time to permeate the surface.

The two most popular finishes for marble countertops are polished and honed. A polished surface is glossy, brings out the beauty of the stone and better reflects its color and markings. While a honed finish is more satiny, smoother and offers much less reflection of light. Polished marble is susceptible to etching because of the surface finish. Honed marble on the other hand is already etched. If you drip some lemon on a honed marble surface, you won't notice any difference because it's already etched.

While polished marble is susceptible to etching, and is more difficult to stain if properly sealed, honed marble is exactly the opposite. With honed marble the danger comes more from staining because it is more porous. So the bottom line...clean as you go, wipe up all spills immediately and clean the area thoroughly with mild soap and water and you should be just fine.

Accidents Happen: Stain Removal Tips For Marble Countertops

While the best way to avoid staining and etching is to be diligent with picking up and cleaning spills before the have time to stain, sometimes accidents happen. To reduce the effects of staining and etching, spraying your countertops monthly with a spray sealant can slow down the process. If you leave a spill on your countertop overnight, it will stain, but applying a sealant and cleaning up quickly can prevent most problems.

That being said, sometimes you may miss a spot and then you will need to first remove the stain and then deal with any etching (if your countertops have a polished finish). Different types of stains have different solutions, so the first step is to identify the culprit. The Marble Institute offers the following solutions for these common problems.

Oil-based stains – These include grease, cooking oil and cosmetics. Clean gently using a soft liquid cleanser, household detergent, ammonia or mineral spirits.

Organic stains – Including coffee, tea, fruit, food or wine, clean with a mixture of 12 percent hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia.

Rust stains – Caused by metals, like cast iron pans, nails or screws. These stains are a bit more difficult to deal with and must be cleaned with a poultice. These are available at most stone supply stores and consist of a power that when mixed with water can be spread on the stain, allowed to sit and work, then removed when dry. Clean the spot with soap and mild detergent after removal.

Water spots and rings – Buff the area with dry #0000 steel wool.

Some substances like milk, fruit juice and alcohol can sometimes cause both staining and etching. First identify and remove the stain. Then wet the surface with water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder. Rub the powder into the stone with a damp cloth or a buffing pad and a low-speed drill or polisher and continue buffing until the surface shines.

Marble countertops are beautiful and add luxury to your kitchen or bath. With minimal care and careful cleaning they can last a lifetime. Take care when cleaning, use only mild soapy water, or the proper professionally approved cleaning materials and you can enjoy a lifetime of luxury and elegance in your kitchen!


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