How to Clean Marble Countertops

by Michael Franco
Woman wiping white marble table with rag indoors

Marble countertops are striking additions to any kitchen or bathroom. However, to preserve their natural beauty and extend their lifespan, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential.

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In this guide, we'll explore effective techniques, tips and precautions for cleaning marble countertops. By following these recommendations, you can ensure your marble surfaces retain their stunning appearance for years to come.

Understanding Marble

It's important to understand that marble is porous, which means it can be easily stained and damaged by acidic substances. Even leaving water on the counter for too long can lead to staining, so it's critical to always wipe up any kind of spill as quickly as possible. Also, always use cutting boards so that you don't slice into the stone, creating grooves where staining can occur.

Sealing Marble Countertops

If you have new marble countertops or have just cleaned them, you might want to consider applying a sealant to prevent stains in the first place. However, it is important to note that not all marble varieties require sealing. To determine if your countertops need sealing, perform a simple water test. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the surface; if it beads up, sealing is not necessary. If the water absorbs into the marble within 10 to 15 minutes, applying a high-quality marble sealer is recommended. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper application and reapplication timelines.

Dealing with Stains

Marble countertops can be particularly susceptible to staining. Removing these stains requires careful attention and the use of appropriate cleaning methods. Here are some effective techniques to tackle common types of stains:

Organic Stains (Coffee, Tea, Food)

Begin by gently blotting the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess liquid. Next, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water until it forms a thick consistency. Apply the paste to the stain and cover it with plastic wrap, allowing it to sit overnight. Rinse the area with water the next day and wipe it dry.

Oil-Based Stains (Grease, Butter, Cooking Oil)

Immediately blot any oil-based spills with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Sprinkle an absorbent material like cornstarch, baking soda, or talcum powder onto the stain, allowing it to sit for several hours or overnight. Gently remove the powder using a soft brush or cloth, and clean the area with a marble cleaner or a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry the surface.

Ink Stains

If you encounter an ink stain on your marble countertop, start by covering the area with hydrogen peroxide. Place plastic wrap over the peroxide to keep it moist, and leave it for 24 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth. If necessary, repeat the process until the ink stain disappears.

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Acidic Stains (Wine, Fruit Juice, Vinegar)

Acidic substances can etch and discolor marble surfaces quickly. For fresh spills, immediately blot the liquid to prevent it from penetrating deeper into the marble. Wipe the area with a cloth dampened with a mixture of water and mild dish soap, followed by a rinse with clean water.

Rust Stains

Rust stains can be challenging to remove from marble. Avoid using abrasive cleaners that can further damage the surface. Instead, consider using a commercial rust stain remover specifically formulated for marble. Apply the product as directed, allowing it to sit for the recommended amount of time. Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush, rinse thoroughly, and dry the surface.

Remember that before attempting any stain removal method, it's essential to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the marble countertop to ensure it doesn't cause further damage or discoloration.

If you're unsure about how to handle a stubborn stain or if the stain persists despite your efforts, it's advisable to seek professional assistance from a stone care expert who can provide specialized knowledge and treatments for your specific situation.

Deep Cleaning

Occasionally, marble countertops require a more thorough cleaning. To deep clean, start by removing any surface debris. Next, dilute a pH-neutral marble cleaner in warm water according to the manufacturer's instructions. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the solution, wring out excess liquid, and gently wipe the entire surface. Rinse the cloth frequently to avoid spreading dirt. Finally, wipe the countertop with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.

Maintaining the Shine

Over time, marble countertops may lose their shine due to wear and tear. To restore their natural luster, use a marble polishing powder or cream. Apply the product as directed by the manufacturer, and work it into the surface using a soft cloth. Buff the countertop gently until it regains its desired shine. Regular polishing will help keep your marble countertops looking stunning.

Remember, each marble countertop is unique, so it's essential to refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for specific cleaning and maintenance instructions. Additionally, regular inspections will help you identify any potential issues early on and take appropriate measures to prevent further damage.