How to Clean Marble Surfaces So They Shine, Always | Architectural Digest

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revisit this article, select My Account, then View saved stories Ride On Automatic Scrubbing

How to Clean Marble Surfaces So They Shine, Always | Architectural Digest

By Michael Y. Park and Kenzi Wilbur

The marble countertops of your dreams (and Pinterest boards) finally live in your kitchen. But wait, there’s a catch: How to clean marble? Keeping marble surfaces and marble floors clean is actually simpler than you’d think, but—as with maintaining most things in life—you need to know what you’re dealing with.

Marble is a exceptionally beautiful natural stone, but it’s also more porous than other common countertop materials—like engineered stone, sold often as simply quartz, or soapstone—so it can be prone to staining and etching (a.k.a. light scratching or physical changes to the stone itself). You’ll want to clean and seal yours regularly (more on that later).

Keep the Bianco Bello marble slab backsplash, as seen in this Daniella Villamil Interiors–designed kitchen, splatter free. 

There’s day-to-day marble cleaning, and then there are other tactics you’ll need to employ if Uncle Pat puts the punch bowl on his head at dinner and spills cabernet across the length of your beautiful white marble island. “Acids are the enemy of any stone but especially marble,” says Welberson DosSantos, director of operations for NYC Marble Care in New York City. And what if that darned uncle is careless with his car keys and etches the surface? Don’t worry, you’ve got this. Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean marble, restore its shine, and keep it that way.

Miss that shiny glow on the marble countertop or floors, like when it was brand new? To restore the luster, keep it clean. For routine maintenance, Daniella Villamil of Daniella Villamil Interiors in Las Vegas says that the best products for cleaning marble countertops and backsplash are mild dish detergents or a pH-neutral stone cleaner. You can use a damp cloth and make sure to rinse well, sop up any standing water (super absorbent reusable paper towels, like those from Papaya, work well for this), and thoroughly dry the surface by working a microfiber cloth in a circular motion. 

DosSantos agrees, noting that dishwashing soap is mild enough to not strip the sealer, but it will get rid of cooking oils and grease. As for pH-neutral cleaners? He says Zep Granite & Stone or any of the Weiman stone cleaners work great. “For those that are green-conscious, Simple Green Granite & Stone is a good option,” he adds. Once the marble countertop or other marble surface is dry, finish off by buffing with a chamois to fully restore the shine.

If grime, gum, or other sticky and nasty stuff get stuck on your marble surface, use a razor and gently scrape the area with light pressure, DosSantos says. You’ll have clean marble floors and clean marble countertops again in no time.

For marble floors, coffee tables, and other high-traffic surfaces, invest in furniture pads and coasters. Those fancy brass trivets you inherited from your grandma? Skip placing them on a marble countertop as they can etch and mess up the surface. Other no-nos include: coarse steel wool, acidic cleaners, and your collection of cooking oils. If you have to display the vinegar and olive oil you snagged on a trip to Italy, place it on a decorative cutting board or a small platter.

A microfiber cloth and gentle dish soap will tackle stains on your marble countertop.

These nine cleaning products are the best way to clean and maintain marble countertops, marble furniture, marble floors, and other marble surfaces. 

Don’t use vinegar or lemon juice to clean your marble. “Acids are the enemy of any stone but especially marble, which is a softer stone and more porous,” DosSantos says. “Acids react with the calcium carbonate and eat away at the stone. Wine, orange juice, and coffee can all etch the stone. Stay away from abrasive products or citrus-based cleaners, like Lysol All-Purpose cleaner, because the acids strip the sealer, and over time you will start to see spotting.”

For marble, acid is kryptonite. “You should never use strong acids. Citrus (lemon juice), liquor, vinegar, strong chemicals (Windex)—these are not good for the surface,” says Juan Enciso, owner of The Marble Clinic Restoration in Los Angeles. “Excess water damages the stone and changes the color.”

And don’t let your kids use your marble countertops as a play area. “Play-Doh is another thing to be careful with because of the dyes used to color it, which can seep into the marble,” DosSantos says.

If anything harmful spills on your marble surface, wipe it up with a nonabrasive cloth as quickly as possible. “For the floor, dusting is even more important because the friction of dust with people walking over the floor over time starts to dull the floor,” DosSantos says. Given time, though, even plain water can start to damage your clean marble.

“With any spill you want to clean it off as fast as possible,” DosSantos says. “Don’t wipe but let the cloth absorb the liquid.” If you don’t catch a spill quickly (hello, red wine spilled by a dinner guests who won’t take a hint at 2 a.m.), there’s hope. For most organic stains, like food, the Natural Stone Institute recommends cleaning with a solution of 12% hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia. If you’ve spilled anything oil-based, like a vinaigrette, and the stain has set on your light marble countertop, attack it (gently) with a liquid cleanser that contains “household detergent, mineral spirits, or acetone.” You can also try a paste created by mixing one part of 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with two parts baking soda. Apply the paste to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub it off, and rinse and dry the area. 

But whatever stain-removing hacks you concoct, make sure you’re careful using them, lest you make the stain worse, DosSantos warns. “If it does stain, there are some homemade poultices, a paste you apply to the stone that pulls the stain from the stone. But these should be tested in an inconspicuous corner first because I have seen this go wrong many times.”

If it’s a stain on a marble surface that you’re not confident you can handle on your own, it may be time to call in the pros. “With stains, it often should be left to a professional, who knows which commercial poultice to use and how strong to make it depending on the stone and color,” DosSantos says. 

It’s not that different from any other marble surface, according to DosSantos. For marble floors, start with a dust mop because you want to avoid anything abrasive on the surface. Dirt or sand dragged around by a vacuum could do more damage. “With people walking over the marble floor, the friction of dust starts to dull the floor over time.” DosSantos says. After dusting make a warm-water solution. “Mix one gallon of water with some dishwashing soap for oils and grease residue,” he adds. “For a stronger cleaning solution, use a pH-neutral cleaner.”

Need to correct etching? For water spots, light scratches, and nicks, try buffing the marble with dry #0000 steel wool. Anything deeper than surface level scratches will require a professional’s help.

“Sealing marble is the most crucial part of protection,” DosSantos says. Whatever marble you have in your home, you need to seal it regularly. According to the Natural Stone Institute, sealants don’t make the stone stain-proof but they do make it more stain-resistant. Check with your marble supplier for product recommendations (and remember to make sure it’s food-safe if you’re using it in the kitchen). 

When it comes to a sealing schedule, not all marble is created equal, according to Enciso. “The frequency depends on the care, the place the marble is, and the level of traffic in the area,” he says. For high-traffic spaces—like the kitchen, the bar, and the shower—use a sealer once a year to keep it in the best condition. But keep in mind that a marble sealer isn’t forever, DosSantos warns. And you’ll have to treat your marble again and again. “The sealer will wear off over time from use and daily cleaning,” he says.

How do you know if you need to reseal a marble surface? Look for water rings, water spots, or water stains on your marble surface, DosSantos says. “As long as the marble is sealed, water is not an issue. If water does leave ring marks, it means the stone needs to be sealed.”

DosSantos has a simple test to see if you need to reseal the marble countertop or surface. “Pour a small amount of water on the counter (about 2 inches in diameter) in a few different areas,” he says. “Leave it for about 30 minutes. The water should bead as if poured on a mirror. Once the water is cleaned, the marble’s color should remain the same, which means it is sealed. If the water spreads and after 30 minutes the area is dark, then the stone needs to be sealed again.”

If you’re seeing more than water marks—such as efflorescence (a crystalline deposit that can be seen on stone and is usually whitish or grayish)—this could mean there is moisture trapped under the stone, and you may need to call a professional for help.

11 Living Room Design Ideas Designers Swear By

How to Refinish a Table in 5 Steps (It’s Actually Easy!)

39 Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas to Give Your Space an Ultimate Makeover

How to Clean a Keurig—All You Need Is 30 Minutes and White Vinegar

11 Room Divider Ideas That Add Texture and Function to Your Space

How to Clean Grout and Keep it From Getting Gross Again

50 Functional Privacy Fence Ideas That Look Great in Your Yard

Not a subscriber? Join AD for print and digital access now. 

How to Clean Marble Surfaces So They Shine, Always | Architectural Digest

Walk Behind Rolling Brush Warehouse © 2023 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. Architectural Digest may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices