Few homeowners know how to clean marble naturally, and how to protect it from damage, so they wind up hiring expensive professionals to deal with mishaps. That’s a shame, too, because marble is a gorgeous building material that can improve your home’s value if you care for it properly.
How to Clean Marble Naturally
Before we get to how to clean marble naturally, let’s look first at the different styles of marble countertops and tile commonly used in the home. Depending on which you have, you’ll need to choose the right way to polish it and remove stains.
Shiny or Satin?
Marble surfaces used in home construction are either shiny or satin. The glossy kind is known as polished marble, a finishing technique designed to show off the color and variegation in the stone. This smooth, gleaming look is accomplished mechanically at the factory long before installation. Polished marble looks swanky, which is one of the reasons it’s so prevalent in spas and hotels as well as home construction.
The less-glossy, more satin finish is known as honed marble. This look is achieved at the factory by etching the marble’s surface with an acidic compound to give it a softer look. Honed marble looks older, like it’s been well-loved over time. Think of Italian palazzos, French museums, and cafes in Amsterdam.
Why Finish Matters
The difference between these two types of marble finishes goes beyond their light-reflective properties. Polished marble is more stain resistant than its honed counterpart but maintaining that shine takes effort. For that reason, foodie homeowners are increasingly opting for honed marble in the kitchen where they know etching is inevitable.
Whichever finish your marble has, knowing how to clean marble naturally — and how to prevent and treat stains — can protect your investment while saving you expensive professional treatment.
One thing to understand about marble is that, regardless of its finish, it will get etched — this is particularly true of polished marble. Foods like lemons and limes, vinegar, and even wine will etch and scar marble if not immediately wiped up.
Even dirt can damage polished marble’s shine through abrasion. Meanwhile, honed marble is more susceptible to stains.
So what’s a homeowner to do?
Protect Your Marble
There are several steps you can take to protect your marble from stains:
• Never allow water or other liquids to remain on marble surfaces.
• Use a cutting board when preparing food.
• Attach felt pads to the bottom of small appliances to prevent countertop scratches.
• Swap metal canisters for ceramic or glass to prevent rust.
• Use welcome mats at entrances to reduce abrasive dirt on marble floors.
• Use coasters under glasses and candles on marble tables or counters.
Immediately wiping spills is the best way to protect your marble surfaces. Stay away from commercial “all-purpose” cleaners and even homemade cleaning mixes that use vinegar or lemon juice since these will harm your marble’s finish.
For the most part, quick attention with soap, water, and a microfiber cloth is enough. Soap and water are the best ways to clean marble tiles and floors, too.
Homemade Marble Cleaner Recipe
To deal with grime, make this homemade marble cleaner by adding 2 cups water and one teaspoon castile soap to a spray bottle. Swirl gently before use and follow with a damp cloth to wipe away the soap residue. Once clean, polished marble needs a good buffing to restore the shine. (See below.)
For more serious disinfecting, like when you’ve had raw meats on the counter, use the granite-safe version of this DIY all-purpose cleaner.
Remove Stains From Marble
Since it’s porous, getting stains out of marble can be tricky, especially if it’s honed marble. Your first step, of course, is to try the cleaning methods above.
If there’s still discoloration, spread a paste made of baking soda and water on the spot. Cover this with plastic wrap, tape down the edges, so it remains in place, and wait 24 hours for the mixture to “pull out” the discoloration. Gently wipe the paste away with a warm, damp cloth the next day and follow with the cleaning spray.
Light marble: Persistent stains on light-colored marble can be treated with hydrogen peroxide, but this method should not be used on darker-colored marble.
Dark marble: Since darker marble is denser than its lighter counterpart, it tends to be more stain-resistant, too. If you discover a stain on your black marble, clean it with a cotton ball dipped in acetone. Be sure to wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth afterward.
Buff polished marble to a gorgeous gleam with a chamois cloth. To give honed marble a deep glow, grind a box of white chalk into a fine powder and sprinkle it over the clean, dry marble then buff it in circles with the chamois. Wipe the chalk powder away with a soft, damp cloth to remove all residue and then wipe it again with a dry cloth to bring out the shine.
Even with diligent care, you’ll still want to seal your marble countertops and tiles on a regular basis. Sealing is neither difficult nor time-consuming: the counters in an average kitchen take a half-hour to seal, and a bathroom vanity takes even less. Given the protection regular sealing offers your marble countertops and tiles it’s time well-spent and should be done at least twice a year.