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How to Clean and Remove Marble Stains

February 27, 2020

If you're the type to fantasize about your dream home, then chances are you've envisioned the Pinterest-worthy marble kitchen countertop of your dreams more than once. However, despite the strength and durability of the material, the only downside to marble is its porousness. As a natural stone, marble easily soaks up liquids, making it susceptible to stains and scratches—even when professionally polished and sealed.

While it may seem difficult to clean marble, it isn't actually as hard as it sounds. Here's our comprehensive guide on how to remove stains from marble:

Cleaning and Removing Marble Stains Using Different Ingredients

There are a variety of methods to clean marble. These usually include pastes known as "poultices." While poultices are usually made of kaolin clay, molding plaster, or other hard-to-find ingredients, we've rounded up the solutions that make use of items you can easily find around the house:

1. Baking Soda Poultice

Always begin the stain removal process by blotting the spot with a tissue or an old towel to absorb as much of the substance as possible. Make a paste by mixing a small amount of baking soda with water—the consistency of the paste should be like that of sour cream or yogurt. Slather it onto the spot and cover it with plastic wrap, leaving it like that for at least 24 hours. The baking soda should dry out and pull out most of the stain from the marble. Once dry, you can rinse it off the surface of your countertop or tile with warm water and a mild soap. If the stain persists, repeat the process.

2. Liquid Soap and Flour Poultice

Mix around a cup's worth of unbleached flour with 3 tablespoons of gentle liquid dishwashing detergent to make a paste.

Just like with the baking soda mixture, the consistency of the paste should be like that of sour cream or a thick yogurt. Apply it thickly onto the stain and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave for 24 hours or until the paste dries out. When dry, rinse it off the marble with warm water and some more soap. Again: if the stain persists, reapply.

3. Rubbing Alcohol Solution

You can keep this solution in the kitchen to use on spills as they happen! All you need to do is pour 1/8 cup of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, then add a few drops of gentle liquid detergent. Shake the bottle before spraying the solution onto the stain. Let it sit for a couple of seconds before wiping it clean with a tissue or an old cloth.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide Soak

If you have a dark-colored stone countertop or tile instead of white marble, you may want to test a small area before using this method, as the peroxide may "lighten" the color a little bit.

Soak a wad of cotton gauze with hydrogen peroxide. The gauze should be the same size as the spot, and should be saturated with the hydrogen peroxide—not dripping. Place the pad on top of the stain and cover with plastic, keeping it in place over the stain. You may also want to put a plate or a heavy mug on top of the pad to add some pressure to the area. Leave the pad on the stain for at least 24 hours, reapplying a fresh hydrogen peroxide pad if the stain persists.

5. Corn Starch

This method is excellent for cleaning up grease splatters on your countertops. Simply sprinkle cornstarch onto the area and let it sit for around 15 minutes. The corn starch should lift the grease right off the marble. Rinse the marble clean with water and if needed, a gentle soap.

Cleaning Tips According To Different Stains

To prevent further damage on your marble surfaces, you should clean up spills immediately. For this, you need to take into account that different kinds of stains will require different solutions. Here are several ways to clean marble stain types:

1. Oil-based Stains

Oil-based stains include anything with grease or oil, such as peanut butter, creams, cosmetics, and other oil-based kitchen, home, or beauty products. These oil-based items can easily penetrate the porous structure of marble stone, and their stains are particularly stressful to experience, as they darken the marble's surface.

To clean marble that's been marred with an oil stain, you'll need to draw the oil out of the material. To do this, create a marble cleaner using a gentle liquid soap mixed with a few drops of ammonia or acetone. Apply it onto the spot and see if the grease spill is immediately lifted. If not, resort to one of the poultice methods we've listed above.

2. Organic Stains

Organic liquids like coffee, wine, tea, and other food products are actually quite easy to remove. If your counter or tile is made from white marble, you can use a few drops of ammonia mixed with hydrogen peroxide to lift an old food stain out from the surface. If you're working with darker marble, make sure to spot test first before applying, otherwise you could ruin the surface further.

3. Soap Scum

Shower walls, bathroom floors, vanities, and other marble pieces that are constantly in contact with soapy water will need more frequent maintenance due to soap scum. Soap scum builds up inside marble's pores, staining the surfaces much quicker. To remove these, use half a cup of ammonia mixed with a gallon of water and wipe down the surface of the marble with a soft cloth. Do this every so often—at least one every quarter. Be cautious with how much ammonia you use though, as ammonia is known to dull marble surfaces.

4. Rust

If you have metal accessories or metal furniture on top of marble tiles or a marble countertop, the surface of the marble may be exposed to rust. Rust from bronze, copper, and brass can get embedded in the marble, resulting in spots that look greenish or muddy-brown. These aren't just unsightly to behold, but are notorious for being difficult to remove.

Part of the removal process for this type of stain is prevention—keep an eye on your metal furniture so that you catch rust stains in its early stages. If the rusty spot isn't too set-in yet, you can use a soft wire brush and gently scrub the surface. However, deeply set-in metal stains will require both a poultice and a chemical treatment with rust remover, administered by a professional cleaner. This is the only way the stone will regain its smoothness and luster after such serious staining.

5. Ink and Paint

If you have children, you might suffer from having marker ink or small amounts of paint splattered onto your marble surface. Most of the time, you can get these right out without damaging the marble by using a lacquer thinner.

Old or more persistent spots can be removed with a marble poultice (see the options we've listed above!) that will soak up the pigment. If you've somehow managed to spill a whole can of paint on your marble countertop, however, you'll need to get a commercial paint stripper from the nearest hardware store.s If the worst case scenario happens and you'll need to use this, you'll need to be extremely careful handling the paint stripper, as there's a high chance it will etch the marble. Strictly follow the manufacturer's directions to avoid this from happening. Afterwards, rinse the area with warm water and blot it dry.

6. Soot Buildup and/or Smoke Damage

Smoke or fire stained marble surfaces will need some serious deep cleaning for them to be restored to their original clean marble look. Soot buildup, on the other hand, can be removed with soapy water. If the marble still has a persistent dark spot even after you flush out the area, you'll need to make a poultice like the ones we've listed above and apply it on the spot for 24 hours.

7. Etch Marks

Etch marks are caused by acidic liquids such as fruit juices, vinegar, or harsh cleaning products. Before trying to get the etches out, make sure to remove the initial spill first with a poultice so you can start with clean marble.

For the next step, you'll need to get marble polishing powder from the nearest supply store. Afterwards, wet the surface of the marble with water and sprinkle the polishing powder on the affected area. You'll need to use a buffing pad on a low-speed power drill to rub the powder into the stone. It will take some work, but with some time and effort, the etch marks will eventually disappear, leaving the marble clean and shining like new.

Prevention is Key

No matter what type of marble you have in your home, make sure to seal it every few months to preserve its luster and shine. While sealants don't make the stone impervious to staining, they do make it more resistant to spills, keeping the marble a bit more low-maintenance.

Routine maintenance is essential for the preservation of your home. Need a professional to clean your marble tiles and countertops? Give us a call at LMG today or check our marble polishing services here!