How to Clean Marble Countertops

Certain cleaners can damage marble countertops. Here's how to safely remove dirt, stains and etching from this elegant stone.

Modern Kitchen With Elegant Globe Chandeliers and Tray Ceiling

Modern Kitchen With Elegant Globe Chandeliers and Tray Ceiling

This light and bright kitchen features two eye-catching globe chandeliers positioned over the kitchen island, which boasts a gray and white marble countertop like the rest of the kitchen. White glass front cabinets are paired with a white herringbone backsplash, while a light gray tray ceiling offers a finishing touch.

Photo by: Shutterbug


Marble is a beloved material for counters in kitchens and baths. What’s not loved is the difficulty in cleaning and caring for this elegant, veined stone. Marble is porous and can be damaged by spilling an acidic substance on it. By acidic substance we mean common household substances like milk, wine, tomato juice or lemon juice. One splash can etch the marble, leaving a permanent, dull scar. Prevention is key with marble countertops. Mop up spills as soon as they happen so they don’t have time to etch the surface. You can keep your marble scar-free and lovely if you care for it properly. Here’s how to clean marble countertops.

Don’t use vinegar, Windex or bleach on marble. A single use of these acidic substances will eat into a marble countertop’s surface and dull the stone. Don’t use abrasive cleaner or pads, either, because marble can be scratched. A secret in knowing how to clean marble countertops: You don’t need specialty cleaners for marble. Mild soap and hot water will do just fine. Wipe sudsy water on the counter with a soft cloth or sponge. This will remove dirt but won’t heal any etching or stains.

You can give your marble a little protection from stains and etching by using spray sealant at least once a month. You’re still going to have to wipe up spills immediately to avoid damage, but the sealant will give you a little more time to mop before the staining starts.

So what do you do when you spill something on your marble countertop and it stains? You can rub on hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of ammonia. Do not put more than a few drops of ammonia because it’s a weak acid and can damage you counter. You want just want enough to dissolve the stain. If it’s a paint stain, use a dull razor to carefully scrape it off. If you cannot remove a stain, you can hire a professional to remove the surface sealant and the stain. This will leave your counter with a honed finish, which is more matte than the glossy surface on most counters. 

To remove etching, use a marble polishing powder. Wet the counter surface, sprinkle on the powder and rub with a soft, damp cloth, or use a buffer pad on a low-speed drill. Buff until the etch goes away and the shine returns.

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