Caring for Marble Questions

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Q. Is there any way to remove discolorations on cultured marble countertops? They're from where the soap dish and toothbrush cup were sitting. Also, the Jacuzzi tub has a discolored area from a very occasional water drip and I've tried many cleansers but nothing has helped.

A. Perhaps the 'stains' where toothbrush cup and soap dish sat are due to mineral deposits. Perhaps saturating a paper towel with white vinegar and letting it set may dissolve the mineral deposits. A paste with water and nonabrasive cleaner like Barkeeper's Friend should dissolve mineral stains. Avoid abrasive cleaners because they will tend to scratch the delicate, thin gel coat on cultured marble. Cultured marble should be kept waxed. Perhaps after cleaning, buffing with auto wax will minimize damage to affected areas.

There are several calcium, lime, and rust removers available for removing tub stains left by drips beneath faucets. Proceed with caution using these because they can take a toll on metal fixtures. A product like Barkeeper's Friend or Zud, which when made into a paste with water and left to set, will dissolve the rust or mineral stain that you have. Let set, use a damp cleaning rag and some elbow grease. Repeat applications may be necessary depending upon severity. Rinse and dry. Walls of tub can be waxed with auto wax to provide sheeting action and minimize scum. Wiping fixtures after each use and keeping sealed with wax will tend to minimize cleaning problems.

Q. Does anyone have a recommendation for a cleaning product that gets rid of lime scale in marble bathrooms? I've been using a product that seems to be leaving its own white film on the shower walls.

A. There are many lime scale removers and other mineral deposits removers available. Unless the label specifically states that it is safe for marble, do not use it. Use one that is safe for natural stone products. Check at a local home or tile center or stone retailer for sealers and cleaners for natural stone.

Q. Someone mentioned that marble countertop might not react the same as a bathtub to sanding. I have what looks like either cigarette or curling iron burn on my marble vanity top. It's marbled off white/white and I can't figure out what to try.

A. Use wet/dry sandpaper and keep the sandpaper wet. If you can find 1000 or 1200 grit sandpaper, follow-up with a 600-grit with the higher (finer) grit, then rubbing compound, then wax. It should look good as new.

Q. I have moved into a house that has beautiful amber colored marble in the master bathroom steam shower. The problem is that it is covered in a white film of scum of some kind, and no matter how hard I scrub or what I use on it, I cannot restore the marble to the level of the rest of the bathroom. Any advice?

A. Dulling of the marble surface may be due to improper maintenance and cleaning products. Clean, seal, and maintain with products recommended for natural stone products. Your usual bathroom cleaners are not safe on marble. Check with your local hardware or home center or online for marble and natural stone products.

Marble can be cleaned, polished, and kept sealed and cleaned with the proper products. Marble is a soft limestone and can be easily etched and dulled by products containing acids. Many bathroom cleaners contain acids in their formulas, as do some soaps and shampoos. Marble is beautiful but is not an ideal product for the showers because of the constant exposure to soaps, shampoos, and the use of improper cleaners by those who are not familiar with the nature of marble.

Marble showers should be wiped dry after each use to prevent hard water minerals from etching surface. It should be sealed with marble sealer about every six months, cleaned with recommended pH neutral cleaner, and polished each week with marble polish. There are pH neutral disinfectant sprays available that are safe if mildew is a problem.

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