Marble Cleaning Care and Repair

A marble countertop.
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  • Beginner
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Marble is stone that is generally polished and used in fine building work, furniture, or decorative art. It can be white or colored. Marble is etched by acids. It is porous and easily stained. Here are some tips for keeping it beautiful.

Marble Furniture - Care and Cleaning

Marble may be stone, but it is porous and stains easily. Wipe off anything spilled on marble immediately, just as you would from a wood surface. Use coasters under beverage glasses to avoid moisture rings.

Regular Cleaning

Wash marble surfaces with lukewarm water and wipe dry with a clean cloth. Wiping surfaces with a damp chamois will not leave streaks. Wash with a mild detergent solution (dish soap and warm water), rinse, and wipe dry.

A light coat of wax will protect the surface of marble, but isn't essential. Use colorless wax and don't wax white marble or it may yellow. A marble sealer can be applied to clean marble.

Special Cleaning

marble countertop

Marble that has become dull can be livened up by using a commercial marble cleaner and polish that you should buy from a company that sells marble. Companies generally carry imported polish-cleaners, which are used on softer imported marbles and are safe for the harder U.S. marble as well.

Putty powder (tin oxide) can be used to polish dulled or etched surfaces. Rub it on with a damp cloth, folding and refolding to clean damp areas. Preferably you should be using an electric polisher for buffing, however, it's hard to find. Severely damaged surfaces, scratched or etched, can be polished by a professional.

Stain Removal

Make a poultice from white absorbent material such as a napkin, blotter, paper towel, or facial tissue dampened with one of the chemicals below to dissolve that stain. You can also mix whiting with that chemical to make a soft paste to cover the stain. The poultice should be left on the stain from one hour up to 48 hours depending on the age and depth of the stain.

Plastic wrap held in place by masking tape can be put over the poultice to keep it damp, otherwise, it will have to be re-dampened periodically. Mix only enough poultice for immediate use. You'll need to mix a second batch later if another application is needed. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid skin irritation.

Organic Stains

These are stains from tea, coffee, colors bleached from paper, textiles or soft drinks. Make poultice soaked with 20 percent peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.

Oil Stains

Oil stains may include butter, hand cream, or lotion. As soon as possible, spread the surface with an absorbent fine powder such as whiting or cornstarch. Brush the powder off after a short while and reapply more. Let it stand 24 hours. Remove it by scrubbing with a hot, sudsy detergent solution and stiff brush or use an ammonia-dampened cloth. Rinse the surface and wipe it dry.

If these alkaline solutions don't remove all of the oil, you can try a solvent. Make a poultice dampened with acetone or amyl acetate (available at drug stores), or with home dry cleaning fluid. Use good ventilation with windows open to remove fumes, do not use near a spark or flame and do not leave it on too long.

Rust Stains

These are usually the result of metal items such as a lamp or a metal container in which a plant is placed. For this, you will need to use a commercial rust stain remover. Follow directions exactly and do not leave it on the surface very long as the acid in many rust removers can etch the surface.


Bowl of cherries on marble countertop

Acids such as fruit juice, carbonated beverages will etch if allowed to remain on the marble. Wipe up acid spills immediately, and wipe the surface with wet cloth. If the surface is etched, polishing may be required.

Your marble will stand the test of time if you follow these tips. Check out our helpful answers to reader questions here. Be sure to take the preventative measures as well to save yourself from the headache caused by stains!