How to Care and Clean Natural Stones

natural stone cleaning

Table of Contents


How to Care and Clean Natural Stones

Natural stone like travertine, marble, onyx, and slate could bring a little style to your kitchen counters, bathroom vanities, hallways, and fireplace mantels.

But many folks shy away from these porous stones since they are susceptible to cracks and marks brought on by cleaners and acid-based foods. The good news is that correct maintenance and care could decrease discoloration and etching from daily wear-and-tear.

There’s nothing more wonderful than the eternalness of natural stone. When you know how to clean stone, the natural stone in your home could last a lifetime.

Types of Natural Stone

You might recall from your high school geology class that natural stone goes into one of three fundamental geological classifications: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. When it comes to natural stone cleaning, you also have to know whether your natural stone countertop or stone bathroom floor is calcareous or siliceous.

Calcareous stone, made essentially of calcium carbonate, is most sensitive to acid. It would be best if you used a pH-balanced, non-acidic gentle soap for these stones, including travertine, marble, limestone, onyx, and serpentine.

Siliceous stone is an excellent choice for your kitchen as it can handle acid and acidic cleansers. Examples of siliceous stones are slate, granite, sandstone, quartzite, and soapstone.

Natural Stone Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to natural stone cleaning:  

  • Do blot up spills ASAP.
  • Do clean surfaces with a natural stone cleaner or mild detergent.
  • Do fully rinse and dry the area after washing.
  • Do dust mop your floors of stone frequently.
  • Do shield floor surfaces with area rugs or non-slip mats and countertop surfaces with placemats or coasters.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners like soft or dry cleansers.
  • Don’t use cleaners that contain acid, like grout and bathroom cleaners.
  • Don’t use lemon juice, vinegar, or other cleaners with acids on natural stone.
  • Don’t combine ammonia and bleach. This solution creates a lethal and toxic gas.
  • Don’t use vacuum cleaners. The plastic or metal attachments or the wheels could scratch the stone’s surface.

General Guidelines for Natural Stone Stain Removal

  1. Eliminate any dirt.
  2. Blot spills. Wiping the spot spreads the liquid.
  3. Rinse the spot with water and soap.
  4. Dry the site entirely with a soft cloth.
  5. Repeat if needed.
  6. If the stain has set in, call a stone restoration specialist.

Restoring Natural Stone

Many individuals make a costly error when they renovate a bathroom or move into a new house is replacing the discolored, dull stone. An expert can professionally restore your natural stone at an affordable cost than a replacement. Some examples of when your marble or granite might require professional stone restoration service:

  • Discoloration and dullness from years of built-up residue
  • Etching
  • Chips, scratches, and seam repairs
  • Replacement and removal of grout and caulk
  • Surface polishing
  • Soap scum removal

Everyday Cleaning Stone Tips

  • Start with a soft, wet sponge or cloth and a drop of pH-neutral soap (dishwashing liquid like Dawn is good).
  • Using the scouring side of a sponge or an abrasive cleanser might strip away the sealant and destroy the stone.
  • For soap scum or stuck-on food, use a soft-bristle brush and clean in circular movements to prevent scratching the surface.
  • You can dry natural stone surfaces with a blow-dryer or soft towel right after cleaning to stop any spots.
  • Don’t use a cleaning product that isn’t for natural stone. Be sure if you’re using glass cleaner to wipe smudges on the glass over a marble vanity top that none of the glass cleaners gets on the stone.
  • Shake rugs and doormats regularly to reduce tracking outside dirt that might graze stone floors.
  • Wipe stone floors with a damp mop to clean away abrasive particles and make sure not to drag items across the floor.

Natural Stone Routine Care

You must clean natural stone floors and countertops with neutral products specifically made for stone. These solutions won’t affect present sealers or other coating types. Stone cleaners, limestone cleaners, marble cleaners, etc., must never contain bleach or acid. Acids, even a mild mixture of water and vinegar, will scratch and ultimately harm many natural stone types.  

Apply a mix of water and pH neutral stone cleaner to the surface with a spray bottle or sponge. Per the manufacturer’s instructions, let the solution sit the recommended time to guarantee saturation of the stone. Clean with a soft bristle brush or sponge. Get rid of the dirty solution with a sponge and buff with a clean cloth. Some textured stones might necessitate a different cleaning process.  

The Truth About Sealant

The spongy capillaries and veins covering most natural stones absorb liquids. Most individuals make the most significant error by putting too much expectation in a sealant, which can safeguard a surface from stains but doesn’t stop etching or discoloration. Many sealants are topical and might repel soap scum or a spilled glass of wine, decelerating any damage.

A new sealant enters the surface and alters the stone’s molecular makeup, protecting it from within, not changing the appearance. Steaming acidic stains out of a stone could altogether remove them.

While sealant makes natural stone cleaning simpler, it doesn’t eliminate the necessity for daily care to have the surfaces shining. A quick daily wipe-down could go a long way in preventing build-up that requires harmful scrubbing or getting professional restoration service.

Always follow the sealant manufacturer’s instructions for specific information on the extent of the sealer’s protection. Be sure to apply that the sealer in exact accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The beauty of quartz and other natural stones is that they won’t go out of style. The correct maintenance and care guarantee years of satisfaction, giving you a high return on your investment.

Heavy-Duty Stone Cleaning

If your natural stone requires a deep clean, you will have to use a heavy-duty stone cleaner and degreaser to successfully eliminate grease, dirt, grime, waxes, etc. These concentrated cleaning products are made to deep clean the stone without harming it. Use the solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the solution remain on for the specified amount of time.   

Use a soft bristle brush or sponge with the heavy-duty stone cleaning solution. Get rid of the dirty solution with a sponge and dry with a clean cloth. Make sure to change the cleaning solution every 100 square feet to prevent reintroducing dirty water while cleaning. Rinse completely with clean water when done. Be sure always to check the time liquids sit on any natural stone type and thoroughly dry the stone surface. 

Natural Stone Stain Removal

Use a stone-specific poultice to eliminate grout haze and stains from stone. A poultice is a non-acidic, fine, absorptive clay cleaning powder that eliminates grout haze and stains from unpolished and polished natural stone. Stone poultice effectiveness is contingent on the stain type and how long it has been on the stone.

Base the choice of the poultice on the nature of the stain. If the stain is old or has gotten deep into the stone, a poultice might not be enough to eliminate it. Clean up spills as soon as possible. Limestone and light-colored marble are prone to staining. Immediately clean up spills on these materials to stop staining. 

It’s vital to know that a poultice might dull the shine of the polished natural stone. If this occurs, you will have to use a stone polish to bring back the natural shine.  



Translucence might occur in some light-colored or white onyx or marble with a crystal structure that will put out light to differing degrees based on the stone’s finish and thickness. Translucence could be a visually interesting decorative element and not thought of as a flaw.


Mixing Types of Natural Stone Materials

Installation or renovation designs requesting a mixture of different natural stones could give rise to wear and maintenance issues, particularly in outdoor applications. Re-polishing will present problems too. You should be aware that mixing natural stone types means there will be various abrasion resistance levels, application limitations, and diverse densities of stones vital to the stone’s long-term care and wearability. 

Common Practices to Avoid

Natural stone surfaces are an excellent investment that requires and necessitates proper care. If you make an error or ignore maintenance, you can jeopardize destroying your exquisite material.

While it’s true that natural stone is very resilient and made to last, it is not unbreakable.

Natural stone thrives under the correct maintenance. You have to take preventive measures. If you don’t perform cleaning mistakes, you won’t need restoration services.

Cleaning with Vinegar

Only use cleaners made for natural stone. If you use a professional cleaning business, be sure they do too.

Many folks aren’t aware of the chemistry of stone and cleaners chemistry, and they’ll use an incorrect cleaner. You have to use a cleaner that has the proper pH level, which is a neutral one. Some stones like limestone, marble, or travertine respond poorly with vinegar since it’s acidic.

Bleach and vinegar are abrasive. These products will burn or scratch the surface of your natural stone.

While some chemicals might not visibly harm durable stones like granite, they might break down any sealer on the stone. This fact means you would have to get your stone resealed more often.

Using an Abrasive Tool

Some homeowners believe they may eliminate stains and etches with a scrubbing pad. Truthfully, this usually only makes the issue worse. A scrubbing pad works like an abrasive on stone, particularly when you rub forcefully on it.

For normal cleaning, use a soft cloth and don’t try to buff out scratches or stains. Instead, hire a professional. The only way to repair a scratched stone is to get it honed and restored.

Skipping the Dust Mop

You may not be capable of seeing little sand and dust particles that will work as an abrasive under your feet and create wear patterns over time. Use a dust mop and go over your natural stone tile flooring every day or every other day.

Grit scratches floors, giving them a dull appearance. A polished surface is a sleek surface, and light will reflect off it. Scratches deflect light. Your floors of stone may be clean, but it gives a scuffed or lackluster appearance.

Get rid of debris and vacuum or dust with a dust mop and use a neutral stone floor cleaner every week.

Unprotected High-Traffic Spots

Rugs can help shield the spots on your floors of stone that will become worn down because of high-foot traffic.

A mat helps keep debris and dust away that could scratch your floors. Put a mat outside and inside the doors. Also, place rugs and runners in areas that receive plenty of usages, like hallways, mudrooms, and kitchens.

Not Sealing Your Stone Regularly

Sealing is part of a suggested general care plan for many natural stones, especially for the new installation of granite, limestone, and marble to offer maximum stain protection. Be sure to choose a high-quality sealer to safeguard your natural stone.

While it is conceivable for homeowners to seal their stone, specialists agree that a natural stone professional will provide the best results.

Typically, any professional work is necessary every three to five years. If it’s a high-profile spot with plenty of windows, you’ll need to call for service every year.

If you do seal your natural stone yourself, be sure you use a solvent-based impregnating sealer. It’s preventative care, but it’s not a be-all, end-all remedy. It’s the same as putting stain and water repellant on your carpet. It could help stop your stone from scratching, but you still need to do some regular cleaning.

With the right maintenance and care, the surface of your natural stone will remain gorgeous for an exceptionally long time. Every stone is distinct, and for numerous homeowners, small imperfections in the stone’s surface become a fraction of the stone’s story. To learn more about natural stone surface cleaning and maintenance, contact us at EleganceUs.