The stately beauty of marble is nearly unmatched when it comes to countertop surfaces. However, many people are intimidated by the thought of cleaning and caring for marble, which is notorious for its susceptibility to etching and staining. Fortunately, general maintenance and protection is simple and straightforward.
The most important detail to remember: Marble is made of calcium carbonate which does, in fact, make it prone to etching or marring. Any type of acid – lemon juice, vinegar, tomato sauce, etc.– that is spilled or splashed on the surface literally eats away at the surface of the marble, creating a dull spot if not wiped up immediately.
Avoiding such acidic solutions also pertains to household cleaners. The Marble Institute of America recommends never using cleaners containing vinegar, lemon juice, or even bleach on your marble surfaces. Instead, they recommend only mild soap and water. So while Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegars can be used just about anywhere, they are NOT suitable for use on marble!
• Wipe down regularly.
Combine a few drops of a mild, non-abrasive, pH neutral (non-acidic) soap mixed with warm water in a spray bottle and spray the counter generously. Scrub gently and wipe soapy solution off with a clean wet cloth. Repeat process until all soapy residue is gone. Rub the countertop dry, and buff with a soft absorbent towel.
• Be smart about stains. Treat the stain according to the type of spill.
(grease, plumbers’ putty, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics)
An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with one of the following: household detergent, mineral spirits, or acetone.
(coffee, tea, wine, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings)
May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
(iron, rust, copper, bronze)
Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)
Clean with diluted cleaning solution. Use a 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide and a gallon of water.
• Seal it.
Because marble is porous, a sealant is a recommended measure. It creates a barrier that can possibly keep a spill from becoming a stain. Experts recommend re-sealing every 3 to 6 months.
• Do not clean your countertops with vinegar or any other acidic cleaner.
Yes, we’ve been over this already. 🙂
• If you spill an acidic food or beverage (lemon juice, wine, tomatoes, soft drinks), don’t let them sit.
Clean them quickly — Start by blotting the stain. Then, using baking soda and mixing it with rubbing alcohol (for water based stains), hydrogen peroxide (for oil based stains on light marble) or acetone (for oil based stains on dark marble), make a soft paste, spread it on the stain, cover it with plastic (to keep it moist) and let it sit overnight.
• Don’t set drinking glasses on marble, use a coaster or trivet instead.
Marble is quick to stain, even when it comes to water. Buff out water spots with a dry, 0000-rated steel wool pad. That same pad may do the trick for smaller scratches and nicks. Larger problems may require re-polishing.