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Natural Stone Maintenance: How to Clean and Take Care of Your Floors, Bathroom Tiles, and Counters

natural stone maintenance

Natural stone is versatile. And when you take proper care of natural stone products, they’ll look great for years. Never use household cleaning agents on natural stone products. For instance, vinegar, considered a universal household cleaner, etches and makes the surface of natural stone dull, causing permanent damage.

Natural stone tiles are used everywhere: kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and laundry room. Although it’s easy to keep tiles clean, there’ll always be stains and spills in your home that demand special attention.

Natural Stone Maintenance: Marble Floors, Tiles, and Counters

Marble is essentially limestone that’s been exposed to extremely high pressure and temperature inside the earth’s crust. The subtle variations in color, vein-like patterns, and uneven spots in marble are due to the presence of other minerals. Besides black and white, marble is also available in shades of green, brown, pink, and red. You must seal marble to prevent staining and scratches.

Marble lasts for generations if it’s cleaned and maintained carefully. As it is porous, marble is vulnerable to stains, scratches, and etchings, especially if it is not looked after properly. You just need warm water to clean marble on a regular basis. You can use cleaners made specifically for this stone if you are cleaning it after several weeks or months. Murphy Oil Soap is safe and effective. Regardless of the cleaner you choose, pick one that’s pH neutral to ensure you avoid damaging the marble surface.

Cleaning Marble-Tiled Floors

Before you wash the floor, get the dirt off by sweeping it first. Add 1 tablespoon of Murphy’s Original Oil Soap to 1 gallon of warm water to give your floor that extra bit of shine. Don’t wet your mop excessively. It should only be damp. You can re-wet the mop as required. After you finish, dry the floor with a Sh-mop or soft towel.

Removing Soap Scum and Grime from Marble

Mix ¼ cup of Murphy’s Original Oil Soap in 2 gallons of warm water. Since this mixture is pH neutral, it’s safe for removing grime from marble surfaces. Just fill a spray bottle with sufficient quantity of this mixture and spray it on the stone. Using a soft cloth, scrub the surface clean. The result: a nice, shiny surface.

Removing Tea and Coffee stains from Marble: Make a Poultice

Making a poultice is ideal for cleaning old tea and coffee stains that can’t be removed by a regular cleaning method. Make a paste of a slightly thicker consistency using baking soda and water. Before you apply the paste, wet the stained marble surface with water. Next, spread the paste over the stained area and cover with a plastic wrap. Leave the wrap undisturbed for a day.

Use a plastic spatula (or anything that won’t scratch the marble surface) to scrape up the paste. Lastly, rinse the surface with a cleaning rag or sponge and then dry.

Natural Stone Maintenance: Granite Floors, Tiles, and Counters

Granite’s innate beauty is just irresistible for homeowners. This durable natural stone comprises coarse grains of mica, feldspar, quartz, and other minerals. Granite is a beautiful addition to your home because it comes in dozens of color variations. This natural stone presents your home a lasting, unique look.

Granite is used on walls, counters, floors, and in showers. This natural stone is a great material for your kitchen and bathroom areas because it’s naturally antibacterial. Granite is an extremely resilient stone that’s highly resistant to scratches and stains. It’s much less absorbent than most other solid surfaces.

Despite this attribute of granite, stains do happen. Therefore, you must seal granite surfaces and wipe spills instantaneously. Only then, you can ensure that it looks great for a long time.

Cleaning Granite Counters and Floors

Use a microfiber cloth to dust granite surfaces. For everyday cleaning, just wipe the stone surfaces with water. Use a pH-neutral cleaner for weekly cleanings.

To remove tea and coffee stains from granite surfaces, follow the same procedure as detailed under “Removing Tea and Coffee stains from Marble.”

Removing Food Stains and Spots from Granite Surfaces

  1. Make a thick paste using 2 tablespoons of flour and dish soap.
  2. Spread this paste uniformly on the stained area and let it remain overnight.
  3. Next morning, wash away the dried paste with water.

Natural Stone Maintenance: Slate Floors, Tiles, and Counters

Slate, a fine-grained rock, has repetitive layering throughout. This layering is labeled foliation. These layers range from the very thick to the very thin. Slate comprises muscovite, graphite, feldspar, quartz, illite, and other minerals. Although this natural stone has a flaky appearance, it’s tough and durable. You can use slate inside as well as outside your home—counters, fireplace, roof, or anywhere else.

Slate tiles are extremely resistant to scratches, stains and fading. Like all natural stones, you must seal slate regularly. If it’s cared for adequately, slate requires little maintenance. Slate fireplaces are renowned for their durability and last for decades.

Cleaning Slate Tiles and Countertops

You only need to sweep, mop or wipe this natural stone with plain water. You can dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. A pH-neutral cleaner is an excellent option for cleaning slate tiles and countertops.

Easy Stain Removal

Mix equal amounts of plain water and 3% hydrogen peroxide. Spray on the stained area. Using a soft-bristled scrub brush, scrub the affected area lightly. Rinse with plain water and wipe the area dry.

Depending on the stain, allow the solution to remain for a few minutes. Spray some more solution on the stained area and scrub again.

Removing Oil from Slate Floors

  1. Use a paper towel for absorbing the oil. If necessary, use multiple paper towels.
  2. Use plenty of cat litter to cover the remaining stain. Ensure proper coverage of the stained area by placing the cat litter slightly beyond the stain’s edges.
  3. Allow the cat litter to stay on the stain for up to an hour. Check every 15 minutes and add some more cat litter.
  4. Vacuum up the cat litter or sweep it away.
  5. Rinse the area with plain water and dry it with a soft cloth.

Removing Light Scratches from Slate

In high traffic areas, the possibility of light scratching on the slate surface is high. Avoid sanding the slate surface (as many people recommend) because you’ll only ruin the surface. Likewise, avoid using rubbing compounds, Rain-X, or oil. These substances hide the scratch, but they discolor the stone.

If you are desperate to remove the scratches on your stone, contact the manufacturer or the store from which you purchased it. You’re guaranteed the best solution for your specific slate tiles.

When you purchase slate tiles, ask the dealer whether you can use them on floors. Not all slates can be used on floors. Tell the supplier where you intend to use the slate tiles and they’ll be able to provide you the best tile type possible.

Maintenance of Travertine Floors, Tiles, and Counters

Travertine, a calcareous stone, is similar to a limestone and marble composition. Travertine varies in density, porosity, and hardness. This natural stone can be scratched easily as it’s softer than marble. Its hardness is nowhere near that of granite.

Travertine tiles come in varied sizes and finishes. The layout of the available designs is quite stunning. Polished travertine is almost stain proof and doesn’t need sealing. Conversely, honed or tumbled travertine is susceptible to stains and needs sealing. Nevertheless, sealing isn’t bulletproof because it will not prevent stains or etching. Because of this, many suppliers will inform you that travertine isn’t the perfect stone for bathroom and kitchen countertops.

If you use travertine for countertops, ensure you place all your items on a tray or decorative mirror in the bathroom. Similarly, place your items on coasters on the kitchen countertop to prevent glass rings from etching the travertine surface.

Cleaning Travertine Surfaces

For everyday cleaning, it’s best to use a soft cloth or sponge and hot water. Dust mop floors with a clean, dry, non-treated mop.

For weekly cleaning, mix 1 tablespoon of Murphy’s Original Oil Soap with 1 gallon warm water. Dampen the mop slightly and clean the floors. Dry the floor after you finish. Diluting some amount of Murphy’s soap in plain water makes it suitable for cleaning travertine surfaces. This solution takes out the grime and results in a nice shine.

To remove dirt, soap scum and grime from travertine surfaces, follow the instructions listed under, “Removing Soap Scum and Grime from Marble.”

Removing Oil-Based Stains from Travertine Tiles

Oil-based stains comprise cooking oils, milk, grease, makeup, etc. These stains darken the color of travertine. Mix plain water and baking soda to remove the stain. Make a slightly thick paste and cover the stained area to about ¼ inch thickness. Cover the whole area with a plastic wrap and let it stay for 24 to 48 hours. Use a plastic spatula to lift this poultice off the travertine surface. Clean the area with plain water and dry it with a soft cloth.

For unyielding stains, you may have to repeat this process. You can use this procedure to remove oil-based stains on granite and marble tiles too.

Removing Organic Stains from Travertine Surfaces

You can remove coffee, tea, and fruit stains—labeled organic stains—by using the method outlined under, “Removing Tea and Coffee stains from Marble: Make a Poultice.”

Useful Tips for Everyday Maintenance and Care of Natural Stone Surfaces

  • Cleaning regularly is unquestionably the most effective method of maintaining natural stone surfaces. In most cases, a daily cleaning with plain water will suffice.
  • Always vacuum or sweep (without a beater bar) before cleaning.
  • Never use abrasive cleaners.
  • When you scrub or clean, never use a hard-bristled brush. Use a soft mop, sponge, or cloth instead.
  • After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with plain water to remove traces of the cleaning solution.
  • Clean spills instantaneously. Use an absorbent material to blot up the spill. Never wipe the spill as wiping will only spread the spill.
  • Use felt pads on the base of furniture legs to safeguard floors.
  • Use rugs and floor mats to safeguard your flooring from grime and dirt.
  • Use coasters on countertops to safeguard the stone surface from water rings resulting from glasses sweating.
  • Avoid placing hot objects directly on the stone surface.
  • Reseal natural stone countertops regularly to prevent staining.
  • Never use acidic products or cleaners on natural stone surfaces because they damage them.

Summary

Natural stone exudes class. But poor maintenance can mar the beauty and allure of natural stone surfaces. You need to adopt a proper maintenance approach to ensure that your natural stone marvels provide you with lasting utility and esthetics. And although natural stone products are durable, they need superlative care to remain at their best.

1 Comment

  1. I really liked it when you said that cleaning the countertop daily with plain water is enough to maintain it and keep it healthy for a long time. That is good to know because I really do not prefer to try any solution on the countertop in fear of damaging the seal. I will remind myself of this because we are planning to use a stone countertop for the replacement project next month, and I want to know how to maintain it.

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