How To Clean Marble [A Complete Guide]

Marble is one of the most coveted stone surfaces in homes across Australia, and with good reason. Not only does it look amazing with a variety of colours and grains running through it, but it is also fairly durable and long lasting. This makes it a great fit for spaces in the home anywhere from the kitchen to the bath and even flooring in between. Without getting too much into the geology and chemistry of it all, marble is a rock made up of carbonate minerals, mostly calcite and dolomite. Because of this, certain cleaners and techniques can actually damage the surface, leading to staining or etching that is irreversible. For that reason, it’s critical that you understand how to clean marble properly. And as purveyors of marble and all things stone, we’ve put together this handy guide just for you.

Where is the best place to use marble?

Marble has been used for centuries in applications spanning the kitchen, bathrooms and whole house flooring.  It has also been used for Churches and statues which have stood for hundreds of years.  It has a beauty which is hard to match with other products.  Sure natural granite may be harder and more durable than marble, however it is hard to find a granite that has the flowing veins of a gorgeous marble.  That’s why it is becoming so popular in a variety of applications in homes and businesses Australia-wide. The most common places to find marble in the home include kitchen and bathroom benchtops. Marble can also be found in shapes and sizes suitable for backsplashes, shower surrounds, flooring, and even fireplace surrounds.

How to clean marble

While marble is one of the most sought after materials,  it is not without its pitfalls. And when it comes to marble, being porous is something to keep in mind. This means that over time, especially if spills are not cleaned up right away and sealers are not kept up, liquids can seep into the surface of the material and cause darkening or staining. That makes proper cleaning all that more important. But remember that since marble is calcium based, you’ll also have to be mindful of the substances you use to clean it. And back to our truncated geology lesson from above, being made of carbonate minerals makes marble a bad match for some chemicals that are known to eat away at calcite and similar substances. WARNING: Here’s what NOT to do with your marble benchtop

What to use when cleaning marble

So what, then, is fair game for cleaning your new marble?

1. Warm water

Water can work wonders to wipe up nearly anything that you throw at your marble surfaces. On a daily basis, you can simply use warm water and dampen a microfibre cloth to wipe down your benchtops, shower surrounds, and even your flooring. The key is to follow this up with a dry cloth rather quickly so that there are no water stains left behind. Remember that marble is porous, so it will want to soak up moisture if you leave it to sit on the surface for too long.

2. Mild marble cleaner

Unfortunately, water doesn’t always work to remove oily substances or if you’re worried about disinfecting a surface. This is especially important after working with raw meats or cleaning up a science experiment. Some spills, like wine or lemon juice, can actually damage a marble surface since they are acidic, so you’ll want to be sure to wash and wipe them up thoroughly and quickly. Acids can etch your marble in moments but cleaning with the right ph neutral cleaner such as MB Stone Care MB5 Stone & More cleaner can help to stop the ongoing attack on your top and can leave your bench hygienically clean. As it is a food safe cleaner it is especially useful for kitchen benchtops.
  1. Cornstarch
See a bit of subtle staining on your marble surface? If it is an oily stain, you can mix cornstarch, baking soda or talcum powder with acetone to create a poultice which can be smoothed over the stain in a 1cm layer. Apply glad wrap to the surface and pin down so that air does not penetrate.  Leave for 24 hours. This will create a drawing action which will try to draw up the stain into the powder.   Then you can wipe it away with a damp cloth. For organic and inorganic stains which are not oily you may need to use hydrogen peroxide instead of the acetone.

What NOT to use when cleaning marble

It might seem like the options for cleaning your marble are limited, but this is with good reason. To preserve your marble’s pristine appearance, here are a few things you will definitely want to avoid.

1. Scratchy tools

No matter what you have spilled or stained your marble with, the last thing you want to use is something abrasive to try to clean it up. Scratchy tools and scourers will only leave the surface rough and etched without actually cleaning or addressing the issue at hand. And this damage is irreversible.

2. Anything acidic or alkaline

There’s a reason we recommend using mostly water and specialised marble cleaners (MB5) on your marble. Anything acidic or too high in alkaline content is going to lead to staining and etching of the surface that you are trying to clean. Though if you do make this mistake, a product like MB Stone Care MB11 Touchup can be used to polish the surface back up to a shine again on many marbles. Specifically avoid using home remedies that include vinegar (acid) or cleaners that include citric acid. Bleach is also a product to wholly avoid. Get more Stonecare Tips & Tricks here

A note on sealing your marble

If all this talk about staining has you worried, one option is to maintain your marble with a good sealer applied once a year. While it isn’t foolproof when it comes to staining, as you need to make sure you remove the offending product before it has time to force its way through the sealer,  adding a sealer can make your surfaces more resistant to staining in the long run and make your benchtop easier to work with.  Sealing your marble does not give your benchtop any resistance to acid as acid etching is a chemical reaction which will occur with or without sealer.  Do not think you can stop caring for your marble just because it is sealed. To seal your marble, just apply a coat of impregnating marble sealer like MB Stone Care MB24 Barrier Impregnator Sealer to clean, dry marble. If your marble seems to soak it up fast, then apply a few more coats. Once the the sealer no longer wants to soak into the marble, then wipe off the excess so that it doesn’t dry on the surface (which would leave a visible film).  Impregnator sealers only work under the surface, not on top, thus not affecting the natural look of the marble. MB Stone Care MB24 Barrier Impregnator Sealer is a water based sealer, however some stone masons will also use a solvent based one when installing your marble. It is best to ask them what was used so that you can buy a sealer compatible with the one they already applied.

Care for your marble the right way

While you might be used to using harsh cleansers and scrubs on benchtops and bathrooms, there’s simply no place for these materials when it comes to marble. To keep your new marble looking like new, you’ll want to use warm water and, as needed, a specialised marble cleaner to clean things up. Granite Warehouse stocks the MB Stone Care range of specialist products. From mold cleaners, to soap scum in showers there is a product for every situation. Always be sure to dry the surface completely so that there are no water stains left behind. With that, you should be able to keep your surfaces clean and pristine. If you’re considering marble for your home, there’s no better selection to be found than at Granite Warehouse. With over 200 types of stone throughout our showroom, you’re sure to find the benchtop material of your dreams. What’s more, we’re happy to consult with you on your materials care and everything in between. Why not check out our project gallery for inspiration? At Granite Warehouse, you’ll find an unmatched selection when it comes to materials and pricing. We’re proud to be Perth’s largest natural stone showroom with over 40 years of experience in the building industry. Call us on 08 9209 2620 or stop by today to learn more about how you can add and care for marble in your home.