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How to clean marble

Marble surfaces are a beautiful feature in a home. Keep them looking their best with these tips on what products and techniques really work.

Updated

marble worktop with cleaning products

Marble is a versatile and durable material that is known for its timeless beauty. But if you’re lucky enough to have some marble features or items in your home, you’ll know that this luxury material requires regular maintenance to stay in top condition. From stain removal to cleaning advice, our top tips on how to clean marble surfaces and floors will help keep them looking as good as new.

Top tips for cleaning marble

  • Clean marble regularly to make it a hassle-free process.
  • Avoid acidic cleaners or those that are not pH neutral, as these can be abrasive and cause discolouration or abrasion.
  • Use soft cleaning products like mops and microfibre cloths.
  • Clean up spillages quickly to prevent permanent stains or discolouration to the surface.
  • Test cleaning products on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Air drying isn’t advised – use a soft towel or cloth to dry.
  • Seal marble surfaces professionally every three to five years.

How do you know that the surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom have been disinfected?

How to clean marble

Marble is a relative of limestone, a soft stone that can scratch and damage easily. Its porous nature means it is particularly sensitive to the acid found in citrus fruits, wine and some general cleaning products, which can all cause corrosion. So if you’ve been left with a stained worktop after spilling red wine, or your marble floor is in need of some attention, read this easy-to-follow guide and rescue your beloved marble. We’ll show you how to clean marble using the best products and techniques, banish stains and restore your marble surfaces back to their former glory.

What products to use

When it comes to cleaning marble, a gentle approach is best. Try this simple yet effective method to remove dirt and lift stains.

  • Warm, distilled water 
  • Mild washing-up liquid or detergent

Distilled water is advised because it contains almost no impurities or mineral content, meaning the chance of staining or discolouring your marble is reduced. Alternatively, specialist marble cleaning products can be used as long as they are:

  • Streak-free
  • Grease and water-spot resistant
  • Rinse-free (this will save you a lot of time and effort!)

What products to avoid

Never use acidic cleaners or those that are not pH neutral, which can scratch the surface or lead to discolouration or corrosion. These include:

  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Citrus-based cleaners
  • Antibacterial liquid soap

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How to clean marble surfaces

Marble is soft and porous so should always be cleaned with extra care and attention to detail. The key to keeping a marble floor or surface clean, without having to spend an inordinate amount of time scrubbing away, is not allowing dirt to build up over time. This method is quick and easy, and ideal if you don’t have any specialist marble cleaning product to hand.

1. Use hot distilled water

Hot water is great for cutting through grime, and may be a quick and easy solution to reduce the need for tougher cleaning products which could potentially damage the marble. Distilled water has minerals and impurities removed, making it an even better option for cleaning.

2. Use a mild detergent

Mild detergents – such as washing-up liquid and pH-neutral soaps – diluted with warm water are ideal, as they are less likely to cause any damage. Try to avoid harsh chemical solutions and acidic cleaners like vinegar and citrus-based cleaners.

3. Use equipment suited to marble

Instead of using scouring brushes or hard brushes, which could damage the marble, use soft cloths or a soft-bristled brush.

4. Rinse with cool, clean water

Use a soft clean cloth or towel to wipe down the surfaces and remove traces of dirt.

5. Dry immediately

Soak up any liquid from the solution and/or water you have used to clean the marble as soon as possible using a soft, dry towel or microfibre cloth. Always change to a clean, dry towel or cloth when needed. Leaving marble surfaces to dry by themselves will cause water spots.

How to clean marble floors

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 above. 
  2. Use a soft mop and make sure it’s clean before using with your hot water and mild detergents. 
  3. Avoid using vacuums as the metal head could easily scratch and damage the marble.
  4. Rinse with cool, clean water This will help you to clean up any remaining suds, dirt or debris on the floor. Don’t forget to regularly change the bucket of water to prevent mopping the floor with dirty water and causing scratches from any debris.
  5. Dry the floor, buffing it using a clean, dry towel.

Wondering how to clean your elegant marble mantlepiece? Check out our guide to cleaning marble fireplaces.

Caring for marble

Sealing marble with a professional sealant every three to five years is the best way to maintain its appearance and protect it from stains and other damage. Although new surfaces will usually come ready-sealed, old surfaces may be in need of a touch up; check the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance and be sure to test the product on a small, inconspicuous area first.

For day-to-day marble maintenance, you should:

  • Clean stains quickly – as soon as you have spilt a liquid or substance wipe it up to avoid the marble staining.
  • Use a damp felt pad or cloth for scuff marks and stains. Be careful to rub the marble gently in the direction of the grain, not in a circular motion.
  • Use very fine sandpaper or wire wool to remove any light scratches, marks or water spots.
  • Dry off the marble with a clean, soft cloth or felt pad.

How do you remove stains from marble?

For removing more stubborn stains, you can try any of these effective formulas using household products:

Baking soda

Is there no end to the talents of this powerful natural cleaner? It’s cheap, easy to use and has moisture-sapping talents perfect for marble. What’s not to love?

But before you get stuck in, a word of caution: this is a mild abrasive and should be used as directed and not worked into the marble with any force. It’s also advised you don’t use this method regularly, as overuse can ruin the sheen of your marble. If in doubt, seek professional advice first.

  1. Mix some baking powder and water into a thick paste.
  2. Spread the mixture over the stained area with a cloth.
  3. Leave the paste on the marble surface for a few hours.
  4. Remove the mixture with a clean, wet cloth.
  5. If the stain persists, apply more paste and cover the area with cling film, leaving it for 24 hours. Wipe away the mixture with a warm, damp cloth – the stain should have disappeared.

Washing-up liquid

A mild washing-up liquid and water solution applied direct to the marble can work wonders on shifting stains. Make sure you don’t use anti-bacterial washing-up liquid, as this can be abrasive to marble.

  1. Dilute a teaspoon of mild washing-up liquid in a small bowl of warm water.
  2. Dab a soft cloth into the solution and gently wipe over the stained area of marble.
  3. Wipe down with a clean, dry cloth.

Hydrogen peroxide

If you’re wondering how to clean white marble surfaces that have been stained, hydrogen peroxide is a good cleaning choice. Many marble experts recommend you use a 12 per cent solution of this bleaching agent, but a note of caution: do not use this product on darker coloured marble as it can cause discolouration and always test on a small area first.

  1. Apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide solution mixed with a couple of drops of ammonia directly on the stained area.
  2. Cover the product and stain with cling film, leaving it to work for at least 24 hours.
  3. Remove the cling film and, using a clean damp cloth, carefully wipe away all traces of hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Rinse the marble with distilled water and dry using a soft towel or cloth.

Cornflour

This ultra-absorbent cooking ingredient is great at soaking up any grease stains on your marble. For best results, try to treat the grease stains as soon as they happen.

  1. Sprinkle some cornflour over the grease stain and leave for about half an hour to absorb the grease.
  2. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the cornflour.
  3. For older grease stains, spray the stain with distilled water and apply a thick layer of cornflour, leaving for at least 24 hours before wiping away the powder with a clean, damp cloth.

How do you remove scratches and nicks in marble?

Use wire wool or sandpaper

Sandpaper or (very fine) wire wool can remove any light scratches or marks. Don’t apply too much pressure though, as this could cause more damage; just buff the area lightly with your chosen material. Rinse away any debris with warm water and buff dry using marble polish to help restore the shine.

Use warm water and mild washing-up liquid

Mix together a small amount of mild washing up liquid with some warm water and apply the liquid directly to the scratched area with a damp cloth. Rub the area then rinse with a cloth dipped only in warm water. Finish by buffing the marble with a clean, dry cloth.

Deep scratches can be lifted out using an abrasive, but it is advised to use a professional to do this.

How to clean a marble headstone

Other old marble can be easier to clean, especially headstones made of white marble. So if you’re wondering how to clean a white marble headstone, then a simple solution of mild detergent and water, plus a bit of elbow grease should do the trick.

Simply make up a solution of one tablespoon of detergent with one gallon of water and, using a natural bristle brush, scrub away any dirt and rinse the surfaces of the headstone with clean water and a clean cloth. This can be repeated once a year, but careful not to damage it through excessive cleaning.

Your top questions on how to clean marble

How do you clean and polish marble?

The best way to clean your marble is to use professional marble cleaner or distilled warm water with mild liquid soap or detergent. To polish marble counters or table tops, try using crushed white chalk. Simply snap three sticks of white chalk and grind into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Then, lightly dampen a cotton cloth and gently buff the marble in a smooth circular motion to give your marble a good shine. Finally, wipe any chalk dust away with a clean, dry cloth.

How do you clean old marble?

Some old marble can be tough to clean and if it’s particularly stained, etched or weathered, professional restoration may be the best option. If you do want to try and clean old marble yourself, you can use professional marble cleaner or a poultice powder, but how effective it is will depend on how much dirt and moisture has been absorbed into the old marble.

What cleaning products are safe to use on marble?

Using warm distilled water with some mild detergent or washing-up liquid is usually sufficient to lift most dirt from marble. Make sure any product you use is pH neutral and avoid acidic cleaners, which can be abrasive and cause damage to your marble. You can use specialist marble cleaning products too, but always read the label and test on a small area first.

Originally published