Cleaning marble countertops, floors, and shower walls doesn’t have to be tricky. Use these natural methods to get them clean and safe-guard against stains and etching.
Marble surfaces add luxury and value to your home, but they require care and attention to remain in good condition. These methods rely on natural ingredients to clean, remove stains, and polish your marble counters, showers, and floors.
How to Clean Marble Countertops
There are two important things to remember when cleaning marble countertops: wipe spills immediately and never use a harsh, abrasive cleaner. Products like Windex, ammonia, and bleach will damage your marble surfaces, as will vinegar and citrus-based cleaners.
For everyday cleaning of marble counters, a soft cloth and warm, soapy water are all you need. Keep in mind that too much soap will leave streaks, so you only want to use a couple of drops. Any mild dish soap is fine, although castile soap is perfect for this since it does not contain antibacterial additives or other acidic ingredients that can damage your marble. Avoid using commercial liquid cleaners unless they specifically state they are safe for marble and granite.
Homemade Marble Cleaner and Disinfectant
To clean and disinfect marble countertops, swirl together 16 oz. of warm water, 2 oz. of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, and 3 drops of castile soap or another mild dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. To clean, spray this onto your counters and wipe it off with a damp microfiber cloth. To disinfect, reapply after cleaning and wait 5 minutes, then wipe it away with a fresh, damp cloth.
How to Clean Marble Floors
To keep marble flooring in good condition, frequent dirt removal is crucial. Dust mop marble flooring daily to remove dirt, dust, and grit; damp mop it as needed to remove dirt and grime. If you choose to use a vacuum, clean the wheels and brush head before use so they do not drag grit across your floor and scratch it.
To mop marble flooring, use warm water and a soft microfiber mop with a few drops of mild liquid soap to clean your marble floor, or spray this homemade floor cleaner on sections and wipe it with a damp microfiber mop.
How to Clean Marble Shower Walls
Marble shower walls need frequent cleaning to prevent hard water stains and soap scum buildup. On a daily basis, use a squeegee or towel to remove water droplets from your marble shower walls and prevent spotting. To clean marble showers, you can use a steam cleaner or combine equal parts warm water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, then add 3 drops of castile soap and 5-10 drops of a non-citrus essential oil. (If you have pets, be sure to use essential oils that are safe around animals.)
How to Remove Stains
Since it’s porous, getting stains out of marble can be tricky, especially if it’s honed marble. Your first step, of course, is to try the cleaning methods noted.
General Stain Removal
To remove most stains from marble, make a poultice by stirring baking soda and water together. Apply this to the stained area and cover it with plastic wrap, taping down the edges, so it remains in place. Wait 24 hours for the mixture to “pull out” the discoloration. Gently wipe the paste away with a warm, damp cloth the next day and follow with the cleaning spray.
Stains on Light Marble
Treat stubborn stains on light-colored marble with 12-20% hydrogen peroxide. Although some sites suggest adding a few drops of ammonia to this, it’s known for etching marble which is why you’re not supposed to use Windex to clean marble counters.
Stains on Dark Marble
Since darker marble is denser than its lighter counterpart, it tends to be more stain-resistant, too. If you discover a stain on your black marble, clean it with a cotton ball dipped in acetone, and be sure to wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth afterward.
DIY Marble Polish
To polish marble, clean it as directed and wait 24 hours for it to completely dry, then buff it using a chamois cloth and powdered chalk. You can make powdered chalk by grinding a box of white chalk sticks. Sprinkle this over the marble and buff it in with the chamois using a gentle, circular motion. After buffing, wipe the excess away with a hand broom and polish with a soft, lint-free cloth. Powdered chalk is just abrasive enough to smooth minor imperfections but not so abrasive that it will etch or scratch your marble surface.
How to Protect Marble
One thing to understand about marble is that, regardless of its finish, it will get etched — this is particularly true of polished marble. Foods like lemons and limes, vinegar, and even wine will etch and scar marble if not immediately wiped up. Even dirt can damage polished marble’s shine through abrasion. Meanwhile, honed marble is more susceptible to stains. So what’s a homeowner to do?
Immediately wiping spills is the best way to protect your marble surfaces. Stay away from commercial “all-purpose” cleaners and even homemade cleaning mixes that use vinegar or lemon juice since these will harm your marble’s finish. There are several steps you can take to protect your marble from stains:
• Never allow water or other liquids to remain on marble surfaces.
• Use coasters under glasses and candles on marble tables or counters.
• Use a cutting board when preparing food and rest stirring spoons on trivets.
• Attach felt pads to the bottom of small appliances to prevent countertop scratches.
• Swap metal canisters for ceramic or glass to prevent rust.
• Use welcome mats at entrances to reduce abrasive dirt on marble floors.
• Roll up and vacuum under area rugs so they do not trap grit on your marble floors that can scratch them.
Sealing Marble Surfaces
Even with diligent care, you’ll still want to seal your marble countertops and tiles at least once a year and more often if they get heavy-duty use. You can seal your marble countertops, floors, and walls yourself. It is not difficult nor particularly time-consuming — the counters in an average kitchen take a half-hour to seal, and a bathroom vanity takes even less. Given the protection regular sealing offers your marble countertops and tiles, it’s time well-spent.