How to Clean Marble Countertops

  • August 27, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Coffee and Vintage Photos

A natural stone with gorgeous texture and opulent and rich colors, marble is popularly used in homes as kitchen and bathroom countertops. Marble is quite pricey and despite being durable, it is delicate too, which is why it is extremely vital to protect your investment by maintaining the marble properly.

Coffee and Vintage Photos

However, the first thing you need to know about marble is that it is mainly made up of calcium carbonate, which is quite sensitive to acidic solutions such as lemon juice or vinegar that can eat at the stone’s surface and create spots, also known as etches. While some people may leave the etches as they are, others grind down the top layer of the countertop when it has plenty of etches and have the surface re-polished.

So, the idea is to keep your marble countertops away from any acid. Read on for a complete lowdown on how to clean marble countertops and take care of stains.

If you consider how to clean marble countertops on a daily basis, the cleaning is very simple, which is why marble is such a popular material for countertops. There are many non-abrasive stone cleaners available in the market; however, it is recommended that you buy one specifically customized to cleaning marble.

Avoid using any cleaning products that contain acid like vinegar or lemon juice. You can save money and make use of a mild soap that is non-acidic and non-abrasive mixed with water to clean the marble countertops.

If you are not using a marble cleaner then in a spray bottle, mix a few drops of mild, non-abrasive dishwashing soap with some warm water and spray the solution generously on the countertop. Scrub gently and then with a wet cloth, wipe off the soapy solution. Repeat the process until you remove all the soap. Then wipe the marble countertop dry and using a soft absorbent towel, buff the countertop.

How to Remove Stains

Removing stains from the marble countertop can be trickier than simple general cleaning. The idea is to identify the origin of the stain correctly and then using the proper product or cleaning agent to remove it. The faster you tackle the stain, the better your chances of removing it.

However, a word of caution, never mix the chemicals or cleaning agents because the result can be toxic and dangerous. Before you actually set out to clean your marble countertop, test the cleaning agent to check its suitability and ensure that it does not damage the marble surface. Ensure that when working with chemicals or cleaning agents you wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves and also ensure that the area is well ventilated.

Marble Pattern

Organic Stains

Use a mixture of a few drops of ammonia and add it to a solution of 12% hydrogen peroxide solution to remove stains caused by tea, coffee, wine, tobacco, fruit, paper, and other food stains, which usually are pinkish-brown in color. With a clean cloth, wipe over the stain, then rinse the area with a wet cloth and dry with a chamois cloth.

Oil-Based Stains

Oil-based stains such as cooking oil, grease, makeup or milk darken the marble and must be removed chemically. Gently clean the stained area with a liquid cleanser containing bleach, mineral spirits, acetone or ammonia.

Biological Stains

For stains caused by mold or mildew, use a solution of 3 parts of household bleach with 1-part water and a few drops of dish soap, mixed together in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the stained surface thoroughly and repeat the process until the stain is completely removed. Then, rinse the area with clean water and dry it with a soft cloth.

Ink Stains

Dip some cotton into acetone and apply it directly to the surface in case you are removing ink stains from dark-colored stone. If the stone is light-colored, then use a solution of 20% hydrogen peroxide to remove ink stains. Wipe away the cleaning solution immediately after you remove the stain using a damp sponge or a soft cloth. In the event that the stains are very large or are set in, you need to use a poultice to remove the stains.

Steps to Remove Ink Stains with a Poultice

  • Add ¼ to ½ a cup of flour in a bowl. Use acetone in the case that the stone is dark-colored and if it is light-colored, use a 20% hydrogen peroxide solution. Make a thick paste by adding 1 tsp at a time to the flour.
  • Apply the paste (flour poultice) to the stained area using a plastic spoon or a spatula. Cover the area with a plastic wrap and press it firmly over the stain. With a fork or toothpick, poke holes into the plastic wrap and let the poultice dry for around 24 hours.
  • Then, remove the plastic wrap, discard it and let the poultice dry completely. Once it dries completely, remove the poultice and throw it away. If there is any ink mark remaining, repeat the entire process all over again.
  • When the stain is completely removed, apply some pH-neutral soap to a soft, damp sponge. Clean the area with the soap and then remove the soapy residue with a clean, damp sponge.
Flour Jar

Paint

You can use a clean cloth dipped with some lacquer thinner to remove a small drip of paint off your marble countertop or you can scrape the drip off carefully using a razor blade. For a larger paint stain, you will need to use a commercial paint remover. However, you must take care as the paint stripper can cause etching in the marble, which may require re-polishing after the removal of the paint.

To use a commercial paint remover, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and then clean the area with water thoroughly. Ensure that you wear eye protection and rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.

Rings and Water Spots

You can use a 0000-rated dry steel wool pad to buff out rings and water spots from your marble countertops. This can also be used to buff small nicks and scratches on the surface. For larger issues, you may have to resort to re-polishing of the countertops. To avoid these problems in the future, it is recommended that you use trivets and coasters.

Metal

Rust or iron stains are usually brownish or orange-ish in color, while bronze or copper stains are usually muddy brown or green. Whatever metal may have caused the stain, these kinds of stains tend to be quite deep-seated and stubborn, especially rust stains. You can tackle metal stains using a poultice.

  • You can buy pre-mixed poultices from your local home store and mix with water to make a thick paste.
  • Apply it on the stain in a thickness of 1/4  to 1/2 an inch and spread it evenly using a plastic or wooden spatula.
  • Cover the poultice with plastic wrap and secure it tightly on all sides with tape and let it rest for 24-48 hours.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and let the poultice to dry completely and pull the stain from the marble.
  • When the poultice is completely dry, remove with a plastic or wooden scraper.
  • Rinse the area with clean water and buff it with a soft cloth.
Kitchen and Table Setting

Since marble is a porous stone, it is recommended that you use a sealant and seal the marble as a barrier that can help to prevent a spill from turning into a stain that you simply cannot get out of the stone. It is recommended that you re-seal your marble countertop every 3-6 months, using a natural stone sealer that is available online or at any local home improvement store. Now, that you have learned how to clean marble countertops, you can make sure that they remain clean and sparkling, adding to the beauty of your kitchen for years to come.