How to Clean Marble Countertops

  • December 3, 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 a material for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Marble is quite pricey and despite being durable, it is delicate. This is why it is extremely vital to protect your investment by knowing how to clean and maintain marble countertops properly.

Coffee and Vintage Photos

The first thing you need to know about marble is that it is mainly made up of calcium carbonate. This means marble countertops are quite sensitive to acidic solutions such as lemon juice or vinegar. Acid can eat at the marble 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 marble counters and have the surface re-polished when it has plenty of etches.

Because of this, the main thing you should remember about maintaining marble countertops is to keep acid away from them. Read on for more instructions on removing stains and cleaning marble.

Cleaning marble countertops is a simple process. This is one of the reasons 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 a marble countertop cleaner because it is specifically customized for cleaning marble.

Avoid using any cleaning products that contain acid like vinegar or lemon juice. You can save money when you do a homemade marble cleaner with the use of a mild soap, that is non-acidic and non-abrasive, mixed with water.

To clean your marble countertops with the homemade solution mentioned earlier, mix a few drops of mild, non-abrasive dishwashing soap with some warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the homemade marble cleaner 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 clean to dry. Buff the marble countertop using a soft, absorbent towel.

How to Remove Stains

Removing stains from the marble countertop can be trickier compared to just keeping the marble countertops clean. The first thing you should do is to identify the origin of the stain correctly and then use the proper product or cleaner to remove it. The faster you tackle the stain, the better your chances of removing it from your marble countertops.

A word of caution: never mix chemicals or cleaners because the result can be toxic and dangerous. Before you actually set out to clean your marble countertop, test the cleaner on a small spot to check its suitability and ensure that it does not damage the marble surface. When working with chemicals or cleaning agents, you must wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves. You also have to make sure that the area is well ventilated.

Marble Pattern

Organic Stains

For cleaning and removing organic stains, mix a few drops of ammonia to a 12% hydrogen peroxide solution to remove stains caused by tea, coffee, wine, tobacco, fruit, paper, and other food stains that are usually pinkish-brown in color. With a clean cloth, wipe over the stain. Rinse the marble countertops with a wet cloth and dry with a chamois cloth.

Oil-Based Stains

For cleaning and removing oil-based stains, you may have to use chemical cleaners. Oil-based stains include grease and makeup, which darkens the marble. Clean the stained area with a liquid cleaner that contains bleach, mineral spirits, acetone, or ammonia gently. Then, rinse the area with clean water. Dry your marble countertops by wiping them with a clean cloth.

Biological Stains

For cleaning and removing stains caused by mold or mildew, use a solution of three parts household bleach and one part water. Add a few drops of dish soap. Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle to have your own marble cleaner. Spray the marble cleaner on the stained surface thoroughly and repeat the process until the stain is completely removed. Then, rinse the area with clean water and dry the marble countertops with a soft cloth.

Ink Stains

For cleaning and removing ink stains, dip some cotton into acetone and apply it directly to the surface. Do this if you are removing ink stains from dark-colored marble. If the marble is light-colored, then use a solution of 20% hydrogen peroxide to remove the 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 already set in, you need to use a poultice to remove the stains.

Steps to Remove Ink Stains with a Poultice

  1. 1
    Add ¼ to ½ cup of flour in a bowl. Use acetone if the stone is dark-colored and if it is light-colored, use a 20% hydrogen peroxide solution. Make a thick paste by adding one teaspoon at a time to the flour.
  2. 2
    Apply the paste (flour poultice) to the stained area in your marble countertops 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 it sit for around 24 hours.
  3. 3
    Then, remove the plastic wrap and let the poultice dry completely. Once it dries completely, remove the poultice from your marble countertops. If there is any ink mark remaining, repeat the entire process.
  4. 4
    When the stain is completely removed, apply some pH-neutral soap to a soft, damp sponge. Clean the area with soap and then remove the residue with a clean, damp sponge.
Flour Jar

Paint

For cleaning and removing paint, you can use a clean cloth dipped in some lacquer thinner to remove a small drop of paint off your marble countertop or you can scrape it off carefully using a razor blade. For a larger paint stain, you should use a commercial paint remover. However, you must take care as the paint stripper can cause etching in the marble. If this happens, your marble countertops may need 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. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves and make sure the area is well-ventilated.

Rings and Water Spots

For cleaning and removing water spots or rings, 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 spots, you may have to resort to re-polishing of the marble countertops. To avoid these problems in the future, it is recommended that you use trivets and coasters.

Metal

For cleaning and removing metal stains, you should use a poultice. Rust or iron stains are usually brown or orange 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. Here are the instructions for using a poultice

  1. 1
    You can buy pre-mixed poultices from your local home store and mix with water to make a thick paste.
  2. 2
    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.
  3. 3
    Cover the poultice with plastic wrap and secure it tightly on all sides with tape and let it rest on your marble countertops for 24 to 48 hours.
  4. 4
    Remove the plastic wrap and let the poultice dry completely so it can pull the stain from the marble.
  5. 5
    When the poultice is completely dry, remove with a plastic or wooden scraper.
  6. 6
    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. Sealing the marble gives a protective barrier that can help prevent a spill from turning into a stubborn stain. This makes cleaning marble countertops easier. It is recommended that you re-seal your marble countertop every three to six 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 your marble countertops, you can make sure that they remain clean and sparkling, adding to the beauty of your kitchen for many years to come.