Marble is an undeniably luxurious material. Its high-end reputation extends into homes with detailing like floors, baths, and counters offering classic elegance. In more recent years, marble has also been incorporated into more laid-back décor styles: you don’t have to decorate like an Italian pope to have marble countertops in your home. In fact, mixed with other organic materials like wood, it can feel both timeless and unfussy.
If you’ve made the choice to invest in marble countertops, however, know that it will take some regular maintenance to keep them looking good. While marble is relatively non-porous, it is a natural stone and can still get nicked or scuffed. Regular cleaning, and some occasional maintenance is required to keep your marble looking good. But even in the event of a serious stain or scratch, there is still help. Read on for our tips on keeping your marble counters looking good, no matter what happens.
How Often Should You Clean Your Marble Countertops?
Countertops should be wiped down as needed with a gentle cleaner or soap and water. For a kitchen, this will likely be once a day, or as often as you cook. For bathroom counters, this may be less frequent. Spot cleaning can also be done as needed in the case of spills and scratches. Depending on how it is used, you may also need to reseal marble every 3-6 months, or at least once a year. Bathroom counters and kitchens, which may be splashed with substances that can cause staining, should be sealed regularly.
Things You’ll Need:
- Clean cloth
- Soap and water
- Gentle counter cleaner or marble/granite cleaner
- #0000 steel wool
- Baking soda or gentle abrasive cleaner
- 12% Hydrogen Peroxide
- Scraper or razor
- Marble sealant
Step 1: Start With a Gentle Cleaner
Marble has a reputation for being fussy, though the big no-no is keeping acid away from it. For cleaning, that means using mild soap and water to regularly wipe it down. If you use a spray cleaner for your counters, avoid disinfectants that are often too caustic. Brands like Method and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day sell all-purpose cleaners that are plant-derived and gentle enough for marble.
If you want to be really careful, you can also find marble-and-granite-specific cleaners and sprays.
Step 2: Thoroughly Wipe Counters
Spray the counters, or use a cloth dipped in soap and water, and wipe them down focusing on any dried-on food or debris. To really make sure your counters shine, thoroughly dry them with a clean, dry cloth. Microfiber cloths are great for this. Repeat as needed: daily for high-traffic kitchens, and once a week or so for bathrooms.
Step 3: Tackle Deeper Stains
Occasionally, deeper messes or stains can harm your marble. If you clean regularly, you will typically be able to avoid stains, deep scratches, and stains, but occasionally, a big spill may leave behind unwanted color. Per The Natural Stone Institute, most stains can be cleaned with household products and cleaners. The trick is identifying what kind of stain it is first since that will inform which tools you use.
For oil-based stains, use a detergent, mineral oil, or acetate to break up the stain, then wipe clean with a cloth. For organic stains from food, wine, or other sources, use 12% peroxide bleach (hair-bleaching strength) and a drop of ammonia. These stains likely won’t show on darker marble, but bleach and peroxide can discolor it. Look for a lacquer thinner for particularly deep stains on dark marble.
For caked-on debris, like spilled food or even paint, try gently removing it with a razor or flat scraper. Move as parallel to the counter as possible, not into it, to avoid gouging it further. Lifting away the spill avoids using potentially harmful, caustic solutions.
Step 4: Buff Out Potential Impurities
Dull spots in marble also might not be a stain at all. Acidic, chemical spills can actually eat at the marble itself, leaving behind what appears to be a stain. If your countertop has nicks or gouges or dull spots, you can try to buff it out with #0000 steel wool. If the scratch is deep, however, you may have to get a professional to sand it. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer or company you purchased from.
Sealing Marble Countertops
Before you seal your marble, check with the manufacturer. Polished marble often doesn’t need to be sealed, as the process of polishing it has made it less absorbent. Honed marble, which has a more matte, velvety finish, may need to be sealed.
Marble countertops can also be sealed to prevent staining and etching. Sealing keeps the marble from absorbing liquids, which can discolor and stain it over time. To see if your marble needs to be sealed, perform a ‘puddle test.’ Pour a few droplets of water on your counter and see if they absorb. If they do, you may want to consider sealing it.
Look for a sealer that is designed to work with porous stone. If you want to seal polished marble, make sure the sealer says it will work with polished stone, which is far less porous. To apply a sealer, clear your counters and wipe them clean first. Apply the sealer to the cleaned counters, using a clean paintbrush or spray bottle. Let it sit for the recommended amount of time, reapplying if the sealer is starting to dry. After that, wipe it clean. Many sealers will also need to “cure” for up to 24 hours before they become fully sealed.
Maintaining Your Marble Countertops
Marble is a beautiful stone, but can be expensive and does require careful care. For many, a patinated marble counter is part of its charm, scuffs and all. Others may not have a problem regularly sealing and carefully cleaning marble.
If you want the look of marble without the fuss, consider quartz, a mix of polymer resins, and quarried stone. This manufactured material is highly non-absorbent, easier to maintain, and less expensive. You can also buy quartz that resembles marble or granite at a fraction of the price.
“Natural Stone Institute - Learn About Cleaning Products for Natural Stone.” Accessed August 17, 2021. https://www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/consumers/care/.