Marble is not a trend in terms of materials – it’s been used for centuries, since the Ancient Romans and it’s still used to this day. People use marble for flooring, countertops in the kitchen and bathroom, backsplashes and more. While this is a popular material that many people use, people are also worried about the cleaning and maintenance part of marble as well.
It’s not the easiest of materials to take care of – it can etch and age over time, but if not taken care, this etching can happen quite before the time. Staining is also a big issue when it comes to this material.
So what is the best way to keep it feeling and looking like new? Is there some super top secret about cleaning marble? Here is some info about marbles and a few tips for you to consider when you are planning to have marble now, or soon.
Why Does Marble Etch?
Marble will etch over time. It’s just something that is inevitable. However, this process can happen much quicker if you aren’t taking care of the marble properly. Etching happens when anything acidic gets on the surface of the marble. For example in a kitchen where countertop is exposed to acidic compounds such as orange juice, tomato sauce, lemon juice or even alcohol these type of compounds if spilled on the surface of your marble kitchen countertop. and if they are not cleaned up right away, the acid will react with the marble countertop and actually eat away at the calcium carbonate inside the marble. Etching causes a permanent marking on your stone countertop and it can make it look dull, discolored or make rings appear on the stone which will make the kitchen countertop look really old and rusty.
How the light hits the marble will then determine how easy it is to see the etching. In some light, it might not appear at all, but in others, you will clearly see the dullness of the marble.
One of the biggest things you should have learned above is to not let acidic items i.e. juices, foods, drinks, etc. hit the marble and if someone does end up spilling, clean it up as soon as possible. With that in mind, it would also make sense then to make sure you don’t use acidic cleaners on your marble. Cleaning other materials with white vinegar or lemon juice is fine, but not marble. Instead, it’s a better idea to use a mild dish soap and some warm water. That’s it. That’s all you need. You should also be using a microfiber cloth or a soft sponge, nothing that is abrasive. However, it should be noted that cleaning in this way, will not remove etchings or stains that have permeated the surface of the marble.
Honed Marble VS Polished
Honed and polished have two very different looks; honed tends to be more of a matte finish, whereas polish is shinier. But, these two finishes will also show up differently in terms of markings and etchings on the marble too. Polished tends to show every crack, every etch, every mark. Whereas honed will hide all those imperfections a little more. Honed marble is already “etched” so essentially if it’s already etched and you cut a lemon on the counter and the juice gets on it, the marking won’t show up. However, there is a disadvantage to honed marble. It’s more porous, therefore, it stains much more easily. A polished piece is going to stain lesser, but you will see marks more.
Buying More Time for Your Marble
Sealing is another important part of cleaning and maintaining. You should be sealing your marble with a spray sealant at least once a month. This will help to reduce stains and etching. Sealers are just another way of buying more time with your marble and making the etching process slow down. It’s a sealant, so what it’s doing really is it’s sealing the top of the marble. This way, things won’t penetrate it so quickly. Let’s take the dreaded red wine incident as an example. Red wine spillage on your counter and left there overnight, honed or polished, sealed or not, you will have a red stain the next day on your marble. But, if a sealant is previously used there, and you spill red wine on it, and then clean it up right away, the sealant creates a sort of barrier. It lessens the chance of the stain to permeate into the marble.
Here are a few “fixes” that should work:
Greasy Stains: Soft Liquid Cleanser / Detergent/ or Mineral Spirits
Organic Stains like Fruit, Coffee, tea, etc: 12% Hydrogen Peroxide + a few drops of ammonia
Rust Stains (from metal): Use a poultice to try to remove the stain, even this might not work!
Water Spots: Use a #0000 Steel wool to buff the water spots out.