Sought after for thousands of years for its timeless beauty, marble is a unique and highly desirable natural stone surface. Every slab of marble is classic, one-of-a-kind and stunningly beautiful in its own way.
Unless you have marble expanses as big as the Taj Mahal in your home, maintaining the pristine beauty of marble is surprisingly manageable with a handful of easy guidelines. In order to avoid disaster and keep the luster and shine for the lifetime of your stone, be sure to keep your marble countertops properly sealed. In addition, below we’ve identified the 8 common enemies to marble surfaces.
1) Citrus, Abrasive, and Acidic Cleaning Products
Powerful cleaners made from harsh chemicals, acids, abrasives, and additives may be harmful for marble so use caution.
Prevention: Hot water is usually sufficient for daily cleaning in kitchens and bathrooms. Specially formulated marble cleaners are readily available and can be used as needed. Check all cleaning labels to ensure that the product is marble safe. Watch for acids, alkalis, citrus oils, vinegar, ammonia and abrasive additives. Also avoid scrubbing sponges, steel wool and other metallic cleaning tools.
2) Red Wine
A marble bar is a lovely place to showcase a collection of spirits, mix a festive cocktail or pour a glass of your favorite beverage. The deep color of red wine spilled on marble, however, is not ideal as the color can quickly seep below the surface. Fear not, most stains can be cleaned or greatly alleviated with simple home remedies.
Prevention: Always place wine bottles on a coaster or tray and use care when opening them around your marble. Don’t set corks directly onto your countertop and always wipe down any spills or “rings” immediately.
Cleaning: Should you find some discoloration caused by wine on your marble, make a poultice paste mixture to draw out the color and impurities. First, wipe down the area with distilled water. For light colored marble, mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to the consistency of sour cream. For dark colored marble, mix acetone and baking soda to the same consistency. Soak the mixture in paper towels and then cover the stained area. Ideally the poultice should be 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Cover the paper towels with plastic wrap and tape the edges down to maintain the moisture. Remove the plastic wrap after 24 hours but leave the paper towels over the stain until they dry completely. After removing the towels, rinse again with distilled water and dry with a soft towel. Repeat as needed up to 5 times on the stained area.
3) Acidic Foods
Due to the calcium carbonate in marble, acidic foods can cause damage if not addressed quickly. Citrus fruits, fruit juices, wine, coffee, soft drinks, vinegar and tomatoes are among the most common causes of marble etching and staining in the kitchen.
Prevention: Keep cutting boards and clean towels handy for food prep. Wipe up any spills immediately to avoid staining. Place drinks on coasters and use place mats if eating on marble surfaces.
Cleaning: Quickly blot the stain to remove all liquid. Warm, distilled water can cut through the acid and prevent further damage from a spill. If there is a stain try the poultice paste method outlined in tips for red wine above. If the surface has been etched from the spill, try applying an etch remover or marble polishing product to return the natural shine.
Use extra caution with hot pans, pots, and liquids around your marble countertops. Heat shock can cause slight discoloration, burn damage and in extreme cases cracking.
Prevention: Buffer heat sources with trivets or heat resistant pads. Avoid close contact with hot appliances such as fryers and hot plates by using a protective surface on the marble counter.
5) Shower Residue and Soap Scum
Marble in a shower is luxurious and classic but build-up from regular shower use should be addressed frequently and with the correct tools.
Prevention: Keep your marble looking like new with a quick squeegee after every shower and bath. This will help to prevent scaling and etching from evaporated water.
Cleaning: To clean shower residue build up, gather a few simple tools – distilled water, a microfiber towel, a marble-specific cleaner (avoid heavy bathroom cleaners that are formulated to target calcium, lime and rust) and a squeegee. Spray the area with marble cleaner and rub in gentle circles using the microfiber towel. Wipe down the area with warm, distilled water and then dry the surface with a towel.
For soap scum, combine warm water with a mild pH-neutral detergent in a cleaning bucket. Work in small sections rubbing the solution over the marble with a soft, non-abrasive sponge. Rinse the area with distilled water and use a squeegee or towel to dry the area completely.
6) Sticky Substances
Accidents can happen, especially on floors and other workhorse surfaces. Gum, grease and adhesives may require some patience to clean with the appropriate tools.
Prevention: Clean up spills before they dry. Remove shoes before walking on marble floors. Avoid using glue and other adhesives on and around your marble surfaces.
Cleaning: Gum, grease or adhesives should not be removed using metal utensils. Although marble is durable, sharp edges can scrape the surface. Instead, use a plastic putty knife or a fingernail to carefully lift the substance or try mild pH-neutral dish soap mixed with warm distilled water. To remove gum, place an ice cube in a plastic bag, rub it on the gum until it hardens and then scrape the hardened substance off with a plastic or wooden utensil. For tougher substances, try applying a small amount of diluted rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits with a soft cloth. Always spot test before applying to a large area.
7) Bathroom Products and Makeup
Acidic face washes, toners, lotions and perfumes should be used with care around marble vanities and marble bathroom floors. The concentrated pigments of some lipsticks and makeups can also be dangerous for marble surfaces in bathrooms.
Prevention: Place a decorative tray on your vanity to serve as storage for any toiletries or bathroom items that will be stored on your marble surface. Keep a cleaning cloth handy for any spills.
Cleaning: Because many cosmetic products are oil based and have a greasy texture, a dish soap solution is recommended. First, wipe the area clean with a towel avoiding rubbing or scrubbing. Next, dilute a mild pH-neutral dish soap with warm water to break up the leftover substances on the surface. Lightly rinse with warm distilled water and wipe with a microfiber cloth. Gently repeat this process until the stain has subsided.
Marble is a stunning stone to have around a fireplace or fire pit but take care to avoid build up and staining caused by smoke from the fire.
Prevention: Take care to ensure that your fireplace is well vented, directing smoke up through the chimney and not out into the room. Keep a soft cloth handy to wipe down any build up after each fire.
Cleaning: Should stains build up, apply a solution of warm water and a mild pH-neutral dish soap followed by a rinse with distilled water. Dry with a microfiber towel. For tougher stains on lighter marble, try a poultice of hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda to lift the color as directed for red wine (above). Always spot check a poultice solution before tackling a large stain and do not scrub.
While many marble mishaps can be avoided, remedied and repaired, remember that etching and patina in marble is common and also adds to the character of this beautiful, natural stone. For more information on marble, visit any of our locations to speak to a marble expert and view our extensive gallery of beautiful Marble Slabs