Easy Care Tips
Information provided by the Natural Stone Institute.
To get the longest life and preserve the beauty of your stone, follow these simple tips:
Coasters: Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.
Trivets: While many stones can withstand heat, the use of trivets or mats is recommended.
Spills: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area; it will spread the spill. Flush the area with water and mild soap and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary
- Clean stone surfaces with a neutral cleaner, stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water.
- Similar to any item cleaned in your home, an excessive concentration of cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks.
- May leave a film and cause streaks. Follow manufacturer recommendations.
- Use a soft cloth for best results.
- Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth.
- Change the rinse water frequently.
- In the bath or other wet areas, using a squeegee after each use can minimize soap scum. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover, or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water).
- Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of some stone types.
- In outdoor pool, patio, or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.
- Many suppliers offer products used for stone cleaning.
- Products containing lemon, vinegar, or other acids may dull or etch calcareous stones.
- Scouring powders or creams often contain abrasives that may scratch certain stones.
- Many commercially available rust removers (laundry rust stain removers, toilet bowl cleaners) contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid (HF). This acid attacks silicates in addition to other minerals. All stones, including granite and quartzite, will be attacked if exposed to HF.
- Do not mix ammonia and bleach. This combination creates a toxic and lethal gas.
Sealing is a common step taken on some stones, as an extra precaution against staining. In fact, the sealing products used in the stone industry are ‘impregnators” that do not actually seal the stone, but more correctly act as a repellent rather than a sealer. Sealing does not make the stone stain proof; rather it makes the stone more stain resistant. When consulting with your stone supplier, you may find that many stones do not require sealing. However, applying an impregnating sealer is a common practice.
When considering sealing, remember that sealing the stone does not make the stone stain-proof; it makes it more resistant to staining.
If a sealer is applied in a food preparation area, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use. Consult with your supplier or sealing manufacturer specific to the type of sealer and frequency of use recommended.
STAIN IDENTIFICATION TIPS
Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. Stains can be oil-based, organic, metallic, biological, ink-based, paint-based, or acid-based. If you don’t know what caused the stain, consider likely staining agents that may have been present. Here are some questions you consider:
Where is the Stain Located?
- Is it near a plant, a food service area, or an area where cosmetics are used?
- What color is it?
- What is the shape or pattern?
- What occurs in the area around the stain?
STAIN REMOVAL STEPS
Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical.
What Type of Stain is It?
The following sections describe the types of stains you may have to deal with and the appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.
(Grease, plumbers’ putty, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics) An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with one of the following: household detergent, mineral spirits, or acetone.
(Coffee, tea, wine, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings) It may cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
(Iron, rust, copper, bronze) Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flowerpots, and metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper, or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. (See website on Using a Poultice) www.marble-institute.com/consumers/poultices.cfm. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
(Algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi) Clean with diluted cleaning solution. Use a 1/2 cup of any of the following: ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide and a gallon of water. Reminder: do not mix bleach and ammonia.
(Magic marker, pen, ink) On light-colored stones, clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. On dark-colored stones, clean with lacquer thinner or acetone.
Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware stores and paint centers. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; repolishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, and flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks, and sealants may cause oily stains. Refer to the section on oil-based stains.
WATER SPOTS AND RINGS
Surface accumulation of hard water) Buff with dry steel wool.
FIRE AND SMOKE DAMAGE
Older stones and smoke or fire-stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning. When the smoke is removed, there may also be some etching (due to carbonic & other acids in smoke). Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
Caused by acids left on the surface of the stone) Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or repolishing etched areas.
A white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone) It is caused by the deposition of mineral salts carried by water from below the surface of the stone. When the water evaporates, it leaves a powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuums the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.
SCRATCHES AND NICKS
Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks on the surface of the stone should be repaired and repolished by a professional.
USING A POULTICE
For more information, please go to naturalstoneinstitute.org/consumers/care/ or call a stone professional (recommended).
NATURAL STONE IS EASY TO CLEAN AND MAINTAIN!
Call your professional stone supplier, installer, or restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to handle.