Marble is such a classic stone that you see it everywhere. Marble makes such a timeless floor and countertop, but it’s not the easiest surface to maintain.
A few years ago we moved into a 100 year old house with marble bathroom floors. I also bought a second hand marble table for the kitchen AND we installed a vanity with a marble countertops. I have a lot of marble to keep clean.
Over time I noticed issues with each marble surface that require different cleaning solutions. The counters have different problems than the floors and are caused by different things. Since I’ve got more time at home I decided to try and tackle testing different marble cleaning techniques. This is what I learned about cleaning and maintaining marble floors and countertops.
What kind of marble do i have?
Before you go to clean your marble it’s good to know if the marble you have is honed or polished. Honed marble doesn’t have a shine to it like polished marble does. Honed marble has a more matte look that has a dull, warm feel.
Because polished marble is very shiny, it’s hard to capture in a photo. This table in my kitchen has a polished marble top (and lots of etching, discussed later).
Compare this to this marble on the bathroom floor, which is not shiny. Shower floors are typically not made with polished marble because that makes them extremely slippery.
What is Honed marble?
Honed marble has the top layer of the stone either ground off or chemically removed. If you go to a marble slap distributor, you can see slabs of marble where the top is polished and the underside is honed. If you are considering marble counters I recommend going to look at the slabs so you can feel the difference.
How to Clean marble Countertops (not stains)
The most important detail you need to know about marble is that it’s VERY porous. Marble should never be cleaned with any type of acidic cleaner. Never use vinegar, bleach or ammonia to clean marble.
You might not realize this, but almost every cleaner that you use is acidic. This is a list of cleaners that are acid: lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid, acetic acid, oxalic acid, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. You’ll find most cleaners in your cabinet contain one of these ingredients.
If you need to do regular cleaning of counters and floors it is best to use a cleaner specifically made for marble surfaces. Here are the basic cleaners I’ve tried on my marble counters that I like. It’s also fine to use a non-acidic dish washing soap and water.
- Aqua Mix Marble cleaner from Home Depot
- Method daily granite and stone cleaner from Target
- Weiman granite cleaner from Amazon – for two
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Before you try using any of these, understand these are NOT designed to clean stained marble or etched marble (like rings). Continue reading to learn how to handle these.The basic application for each is the same.
To use these cleaners you just spray on and wipe with a clean cloth. If you have food on the counters, this is best cleaned with a mild dish soap (and not lemon).
how to clean marble floors (not stains)
If you have marble bathroom floors or a marble shower floor you should know that the same rules apply. Many people damage their natural marble floors by using acidic cleaning supplies.
Before you use anything on your marble flooring make sure that it is a PH neutral. Avoid using anything on the floor that has lemon, ammonia or vinegar. Your floors will stay in much better condition if you vacuum up anything abrasive, like dirt or debris, quickly. Sand and dirt can scratch the finish on your floors.
Avoid using on oil-treated mop. Marble flooring is best cleaned with a PH balanced cleaning solution like a mild dish washing liquid. I like to use Mrs. Meyers dish washing liquid and warm water.
how to get rid of marble etch marks
If you have a marble table or countertop there’s a good chance you will see rings from drinks. These are most frequently caused by an acidic liquid that reacts with the surface of the marble. The acid literally eats away a little bit of the surface.
If you have polished marble countertops, these etch marks are easier to see (but hard to photograph).
A marble etch mark is different from a stain and has to be cleaned differently. If you are wondering which one you have, etch marks are usually lighter in color than the marble. They can also have a rough feel because the acid that caused the etching has taken the polished surface away.
There are two ways experts recommend that you get rid of etch marks on marble.
1.) Use a marble polishing powder. There are lots of polishing powders. You sprinkle the powder over the surface and some water and buff out. The powder is abrasive and rubbing it onto the surface can re-polish your table.
This product, MB11 touch up etch remover, even has a video demonstration here where they pour lemon juice onto marble and then removing the etched mark left behind.
2.) Use a polishing liquid – There are lots of people that say this works, but it didn’t remove my etch marks.
how to remove stains from marble
The process of removing stains from marble is a bit more time consuming. You make (or buy) a poultice and let it sit on the marble. A poultice is a paste that rests on the marble for 24-48 hours which sucks the stain out of the marble.
I tried two different pastes/poultices. One was made with banking soda and water and the other with flour and hydrogen peroxide. I have what I believe are hard water stains around toilet base (I know gross right?).
Here is the before and after. The hydrogen peroxide poultice didn’t make a difference (and I discovered after using it that I shouldn’t have).
The second baking soda poultice did lighten up the stain. I’ve read that if you might need to apply a poultice more than once, which I will try. I could see that the poultice had taken on the color of the stain, like it was sucking the stain out of the marble.
Can I use Hydrogen Peroxide in Poultice?
I read on many different blogs that you can use flour and hydrogen peroxide to make a poultice to spread on your marble. You cover the paste/poultice with plastic for 24-48 hours and then rub off.
After I tried this, I read that you shouldn’t use hydrogen peroxide on Carara marble (which is white) specifically because it can darken the marble. This is true. It made my white marble have a dull grey color where I had applied it.
living with marble
The bottom line with marble floors and countertops is that you should be careful what you clean them with. You might also have to learn to live with etch marks and imperfections. It’s part of the beauty of a natural stone.