How To Clean Marble With Minimal Hassle

cleaning marble with fiber cloth
Source: Canva

Marble is beloved for its glossy exterior and unique veining design, as well as its ability to add a sense of elegance to an otherwise ordinary space. However, cleaning marble is not as straightforward as you might expect- due to its porous nature can damage easily if not handled with care.

Here is how to clean marble in 5 easy steps:

Step 1. Remove dust and dirt

Regularly dusting or sweeping marble surfaces will keep them looking clean and bright for longer and prevent dirt from building up. While this is pretty straightforward, it’s essential to select the tools you use for this purpose carefully. Use wool sweepers and soft, natural, chemical-free dust mops (preferably ones made with light-colored materials so that you can see when all dust has been picked up) for your marble floors, and clean white microfiber cloths for other marble surfaces. If you want to use a vacuum to remove dirt and dust, make sure it is set for hard floors. You’ll also want to avoid applying pressure to avoid scratching the surface as you clean. Go for a vacuum with rubberized wheels to be on the safe side.

Step 2. Washing marble 

You don’t need harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers to clean your marble surface. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Use hot water

Because harsh chemicals and hard scrubbers damage marble, hot water is your best bet for removing stains as it can effectively cut through dirt, debris, and grime that may have accumulated on the surface. For the best results, use distilled water – this water undergoes a procedure where impurities and minerals are removed, leaving pure water – as it won’t stain, discolor, or damage your delicate marble surfaces. 

  • Add a cleaner

Because of the porous nature of marble surfaces, they require a mild detergent. You can look for a gentle pH-neutral dishwashing liquid or soap for this purpose. Add a few drops of the detergent to the water. Steer clear of harsh chemical solutions, and acidic cleaners will cause etching on marble surfaces. Even natural acidic cleaning ingredients like lemon can be damaging to the stone.

  • Wash the surface

Use a microfiber cloth or mop (it could be a spin mop or a standard manual mop) dipped in the soapy solution to wash the marble and change out the dirty water as often as needed. Don’t forget to wring out the microfiber cloth or mop to get rid of excess water because any standing water left on marble can cause staining when it evaporates. Use short strokes when wiping the surface, and don’t be afraid to overlap as you clean. 

Step 3. Rinse with clean water

Once you’re done washing the marble surface with hot water and detergent, the next step is to rinse. Dip a clean microfiber cloth in cool, clean water, wring it, and then use it to wipe down the surface to remove any residue of the cleaning solution and traces of dirt and debris. Change the water as soon as it looks murky to eliminate any chance of streaks on the surface. 

Step 4. Dry immediately

Drying is an essential step in the marble-cleaning process to prevent water damage. Use a dry microfiber cloth or paper towels to wipe the surface and soak up any liquid from the cleaning solution and rinsing water. Air-drying marble will cause unsightly water spots to appear.

Step 5. Sealing 

To extend the lifespan of your marble, apply a marble sealer. It’s a relatively easy job for any DIY’er. You can find marble sealers at your local home improvement store or supply store. With most sealers, all you need to do is apply it following the manufacturer’s directions and then allow the product to penetrate the marble. Depending on the provided instructions, either wipe off the sealer or clean off the excess after the required time elapses. 

Some sealers require reapplications every 2-3 years, while others last up to 5 years. Remember that sealing doesn’t make marble stain proof, rather it makes it more stain-resistant. If a sealer is applied in the food preparation or serving area, be sure that it’s non-toxic and safe for use. If you’re unsure how to seal your marble surface, reach out to a professional to get help.

Identifying and removing stains

Meat on marble surface
Source: Canva

Marble is very porous and highly susceptible to stains despite its durability because it is a natural stone. Thankfully, you can quickly get rid of most and restore the pristine appearance of your marble surface. 

Stain identification

Determining the type of stain you’re dealing with is key to getting rid of it. Here are some questions to help you identify a stain on your marble surface:

  • Where is the stain located? (is it near a food service area, a plant, or an area where you use cosmetics?)
  • What is the pattern or shape of the stain?
  • What color is the stain?

Stains on marble surfaces can be removed by cleaning with the right cleaning product or household chemical. Stubborn or deep-seated stains may have to be removed using a poultice or calling in a professional marble cleaner. 

Types of stains and how to remove them from marble

making food on marble
Source: Canva

1. Oil-based stains

If your kitchen countertop or floor is made out of marble, then you’ve probably encountered oil-based stains. Cooking oil, peanut butter, grease, milk, creams, and other oil-based products can easily penetrate the porous structure of the marble and subsequently leave unsightly light brown or yellow stains that darken the stone’s appearance. 

To successfully remove an oil-based stain from marble, focus on drawing out the oil from the stone. Mix a mild liquid cleaner with several drops of acetone or ammonia and apply to the affected area. Work in the mixture with a microfiber cloth, and then rinse with warm water. Dry the surface well and repeat the application if necessary. If this doesn’t lift the stain, you may need to apply a layer of poultice (read below for further details on marble poultice).

2. Organic stains

Organic stains are also quite common on marble floors. These stains occur from spilling tea, coffee, foods, wine, and other organic substances, and they tend to leave pink to brownish marks that are relatively easy to remove if tackled as soon as they happen. 

Mix a few drops of ammonia with 12% hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl and then spot clean the affected area. While this method is effective, you’ll want to be cautious when using it on darker surfaces, as the hydrogen peroxide in the mixture can lighten the color of marble. To be on the safe side, consider testing out the mixture on an inconspicuous area to ensure that it won’t discolor your marble surface.

3. Soap scum

If you have marble bathroom floors, vanities, or shower walls, you may have encountered this stain. Due to the frequent contact with soapy water, soapy scum can gradually build up within the marble’s voids and pores, leaving ugly stains on the surface. 

To remove soap scum stains from marble, add half a cup of ammonia to a gallon of water, and then use the mixture to wipe the stained area clean. While ammonia effectively breaks down soap scum, be careful not to use too much of it as it may dull the marble surface. 

4. Rust stains

Screws, nails, cans, flower pots, and cans are just some of the items that can stain marble surfaces in your home and allow for rust buildup. Brass, copper, or bronze items embedded in the marble surface can also lead to the development of muddy-brown or greenish metal stains that are tough to get rid of. 

If you come across rust stains early enough, you may be able to use a soft wire brush to reach into the crevices of the marble without damaging the surface. However, if you’re dealing with an old stain, your best solution is a non-acidic chemical treatment with a rust remover or a poultice. You can also seek the services of a professional to help restore the marble to its former glory.

5. Ink stains

You can try removing pen, magic marker, and/or ink stains by cleaning with hydrogen peroxide (if you have light-colored marble). If you have dark-colored marble, use acetone or lacquer thinner instead. 

6. Paint stains

Small amounts of paint splotches can be lifted with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a plastic spatula or a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage requires a more intensive treatment – for the best results, use a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper, which you can buy at your local hardware store or paint centers. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when working with paint strippers to avoid etching the marble surface. Remember to thoroughly rinse the treated area with warm water and blot it dry with a microfiber cloth to finish. Never use flame tools or acids to strip paint stains from marble. 

7. Water spots and rings

Water spots and rings occur as a result of the surface accumulation of hard water. Buff the marble surface with dry 0000 steel wool to remove these stains.

8. Soot buildup and smoke damage marks

You will need to deep clean smoke or fire-stained marble surfaces to restore them to their original exquisite state. Commercially available “smoke removers” or marble poultice may help save cleaning time and effort. On the other hand, Soot buildup can be easily removed with baking soda or soapy water. 

9. Biological stains

Biological stains can occur on marble due to the development of algae, moss, mildew, lichens, and fungi in the crevices of the mold. These stains are highly likely to occur in the bathroom, where moisture accumulation is typical. To remove them, clean the affected spots with diluted (½ cup in a gallon of water) ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. 

10. Etch marks

Acidic substances (lemon juice, tomato-based sauces, vinegar, or cleaning products with acidic components) are among the worst offenders when it comes to staining marble. Depending on the acidic substance, it can either stain, cause etches, or simultaneously stain and etch your delicate marble surface.

If you’re dealing with both stains and etches, start by removing the stain using a poultice. Alternatively, you can also use hydrogen peroxide pads (on lighter-colored marble) or cornstarch (especially on grease stains), though applying marble poultice is the most effective option. Once the stain has been lifted, wet the treated spot with clean water and sprinkle marble polishing powder. Use a damp microfiber cloth to buff the powder onto the stain. You can also rub the powder onto the stone with the help of a buffing pad (with a low-speed power drill).

If the etch mark has not been taken care of as soon as possible or if the etched area is too large, seek the help of a professional who can refinish or re-polish the damaged marble surface.

11. Efflorescence 

Efflorescence is a powdery substance caused by the evaporation of water containing mineral salts on the surface of a porous material like marble, where it forms a whitish coating. If the marble has been recently installed, vacuum or dust mop the powder. You may need to do this regularly as the marble dries out. Don’t use water to remove efflorescence; it will exacerbate the problem. If the issue persists, contact your installer to help point out and remove the cause of the moisture.

Preparing and using marble poultice

marble desk
Source: Canva

A marble poultice is a chemical or liquid cleaner mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste that has the consistency of peanut butter or sour cream.

How to prepare a marble poultice

Materials used to make poultice include:

  • Kaolin
  • Fuller’s earth
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Whiting
  • Powdered chalk
  • White molding plaster
  • Talc

To prepare your marble poultice, mix a poultice material in a bowl with water, hydrogen peroxide, mineral spirits, ammonia, or acetone (avoid mixing iron-type clays or whiting with acid chemicals; the reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice).

How to apply a marble poultice

Follow the steps below to apply poultice:

  • Wet the affected area with clean water
  • Spread a thin layer of the poultice over the area using a plastic or wood spatula
  • Cover the poultice with plastic wrap, using tape to keep it in place
  • Let the poultice work its magic for about 24-48 hours 
  • When the paste is completely dry, use a microfiber cloth dipped in warm, soapy water to wipe it away
  • Rinse the area with clean water and buff dry with a chamois or microfiber cloth
  • Repeat the process where necessary

Final thoughts

Marble surfaces are luxurious and should be therefore preserved to maintain their shine. Some of the ways you can maintain them include cleaning spills as soon as they occur, never allowing the surface to air dry, strictly using mild pH-neutral detergents, and regularly sweeping to prevent dulling.

Last update on 2023-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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