There’s nothing more elegant than marble floors. With its glossy exterior and veining design, it adds a sense of royalty to an ordinary house.
However, cleaning marble isn’t as straightforward as other floor types. Marble is highly porous and can damage quickly if not handled with care. If you want to know how to clean marble floors, look no further.
How Are Marble Floors Made?
Marble has been used throughout time for various purposes. It was most commonly used to create sculptures in ancient Greece due to the softness that made it easier to carve. Nowadays, though, it’s used in commercial and residential buildings. It’s available in various colors including pink, red, black, and more.
Marble is a metamorphic rock, typically formed from limestone or other sedimentary carbonate rocks. The heating process causes the recrystallization of the primary mineral grains within the marble. Marble rock is, therefore, made up of an interlocking mosaic pattern of carbonate crystals (1).
Mineral impurities added such as silt, clay, sand and iron oxides are what causes the different colors within the marble. Green-marble is generally made of a mineral-rich limestone or dolomite with silica impurities.
Natural vs. Cultured Marble
If you’re considering installing marble floors in your home, you’ll likely be faced with the choice of natural or cultured. Which one you should choose depends on the area of the house.
Natural marble is mostly made of calcite. This creates a natural veining, or marble, within the tile. It’s also the minerals present in the limestone or dolomite that determine its color and veins (2).
The beauty of natural marble flooring is the fact that no piece is the same. It changes throughout the room or house. Regardless, a good installer will be able to lay the tiles to enhance its natural beauty.
Because pure marble is a natural stone, it’s porous (3). This is why you have to be careful when choosing natural for rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. If you do choose to install it in these high-moisture areas, make sure you use a good-quality sealant to protect the stone.
Cultured marble, on the other hand, is man-made. During the manufacturing process, crushed marble dust and polyester resins are added to create the desired color and veins (4).
This type of marble is less porous compared to natural stone due to a finishing gel coat that seals the surface. Cultured marble is, therefore, more glossy in appearance with subtle colors and uniform veins.
Because of the water-resistant surface, cultured marble is a popular choice for luxurious bathrooms. It is also commonly used in vanity tops.
Even though cultured marble is less sensitive to water compared to natural marble, you should still be careful when cleaning. Harsh chemicals can damage the protective finish and expose the marble. So, use non-abrasive cleaners and tools — the same as you would with natural stone.
Removing Dust and Dirt
Regularly sweeping your marble floors is an excellent way to keep them looking clean. However, you have to be careful with the tools you’re using.
We highly recommend investing in a dust mop or dry mop. These are easy to use and consist of a long handle with a microfiber cloth at the end. The microfiber attracts and collects dirt, dust and hair effectively while being gentle on the surface.
You can also use a flared broom for daily sweeps. Flared brushes are softer compared to unflared brooms. The ends of the bristles resemble split-ends and pick up dust efficiently.
Stay Clear of Vacuums
If you do want to use a vacuum, make sure it has a setting for hard floors. Use it lightly on the floor and don’t apply pressure as you clean. Choose a vacuum with rubberized wheels to ensure a smooth ride.
How to Wash Marble Floors
Cleaning marble floors does not require any use of hard scrubbers or chemicals. Here are some of the tools you’ll need:
- Hot water (preferably distilled).
- pH-neutral soap.
- A soft mop (preferably microfiber).
- Clean water to rinse.
- A soft towel or cloth.
Step #1: Prepare the Water
Because you shouldn’t use harsh chemicals or rough brushes, your best bet at beating tough stains is hot water. Hot water is very effective at cutting through dirt, grease and other things that might be sticking to your floors (5).
So whether you’re using a cleaning solution or not, the water being used should be hot. Boil some on the stove or heat in a kettle.
We also highly suggest that you use distilled water. This water goes through a process called distillation. During the procedure, impurities such as minerals are removed — leaving clean H2O.
Due to the purity of distilled water, it won’t stain, discolor or damage your precious marble floors. You can buy distilled water at any grocery store, or make your own at home.
Step #2: Add a Cleaner
Marble floors are porous and, therefore, require a mild detergent. You can buy pH-neutral cleaners, such as this one from ZEP. These are mild and safe to use since they have a minimal risk of irritation, should it spill on your skin (6).
Follow the directions provided by the product you chose and add the necessary amount to your hot water. If you have a spray mop, you can find specially made cartridges with a ready solution safe for marble floors, such as Bona Stone.
Step #3: Mop the Floor
Take out your best microfiber mop; it could be a spin mop or a regular manual mop. Spin mops are especially practical since you can quickly wring most of the water out.
Start at the farthest part of the room and work your way towards the entrance or exit. Short strokes work best on marble and don’t be afraid to overlap as you go. Dip and wring your mop often to avoid spreading dirt.
Step #4: Rinse
Once you’re done mopping the floor with the detergent and hot water, it’s time to rinse. Fill a bucket with clean, cool water. Then use the same method to mop by dipping and wringing as needed.
Mopping the floor an extra time will remove any residue from the cleaning solution. It’s also an excellent way to get rid of any remaining dust or dirt.
Step #5: Dry the Floor
Drying marble floors is crucial if you want a good result and to prevent water damage. Use a clean and soft cloth or towel to wipe the floor. Switch it whenever needed.
Tips for Avoiding Damage
Marble floors are a luxury. It’s therefore essential to preserve the sensitive surface. Here are a few ways to avoid substantial damage:
1. Clean Spills as They Happen
Due to the porous surface, marble will absorb standing water and liquids — including spills and stains. When this happens, your marble will either stain or discolor.
The best thing to do is to clean spills as they happen. Use a damp cloth (preferably microfiber) to blot up the spill. Start from the edges and work your way into the center to avoid spreading the liquids.
2. Never Allow the Floor to Air Dry
Allowing your marble floors to air dry can be fatal. When the floor air dries, both water and detergent are getting absorbed by the marble. This will discolor or stain your floors.
Always use a clean cloth or towel to dry the floor after mopping. It’s also a good idea to use as little water as possible when washing by wringing it thoroughly.
The additional process of rinsing and drying marble floors can make cleaning more difficult. However, this will give the best results while preserving the sensitive surface.
3. Go for Mild Detergents
If you choose to use a detergent on your floors, always select a pH-neutral product. These are gentle to the surface. However, they’re less efficient at removing tough stains compared to acidic and alkaline products.
Vinegar is commonly used to clean various types of flooring, such as tiles and hardwood. However, this is a big no-no when it comes to marble. Vinegar is acidic, with a pH-level of two or three, and will, therefore, damage the surface (7).
Other commonly-used cleaners to avoid include:
- Citrus cleaners such as orange or lemon.
- Ceramic floor cleaners.
4. Felt Removes Scuff Marks
Scuff marks can happen when furniture is dragged along the floor — sneakers or other shoes could also cause them. Whatever the cause, though, scuff marks can be frustrating to discover on your beautiful marble floors.
Most scuff marks should be able to come off when you mop. However, if you notice a few stubborn marks, you can use a felt pad or tennis ball. Lightly apply some mild detergent and water to the pad and rub the floor along the grain.
5. Use a Marble Sealer
Sealing your marble floors is the best way to preserve them. It’s a job easily done for any creative DIY’er. You can buy marble sealers at your local supply store or home improvement store. There’s also a range of choices on Amazon and Home Depot.
Use a product such as this spray from Black Diamond. It’s easy to use and will protect your marble against spills and grease.
With most sealers, you apply it generously and allow the product to penetrate the natural stone. After the required time, you either wipe off or clean off the excess.
Some sealers require resealing every three years, while others will last five. If you’re feeling unsure of how to seal your floors, contact a professional to help you out.
6. Sweep Regularly, Mop Occasionally
Dust can quickly make your marble floors look dull. Dirt with large grains can cause scratches on your floors if dragged around by shoes or bare feet.
Sweeping regularly using a soft broom or dust mop can keep dust, dirt and scratches at bay. Light vacuuming with an appropriate machine can also do the job.
You might be pleased to hear that marble floors don’t require mopping that often. Unless you have a particularly busy home with pets and children, once a month should suffice a deep clean. Because marble is so sensitive to water, limiting mopping can help to preserve the delicate surface of your floors.
7. Use Baking Soda with Caution
If you encounter very stubborn stains, you may use baking soda — but with caution. Baking soda is an alkaline and should be handled with care. It’s also labeled as a mild-abrasive cleaner, so there’s no need to use too much force when cleaning.
Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the stain. Use a soft, damp cloth to rub the surface gently; do not scrub. Rinse the area well using cold water to neutralize the alkaline, and dry the spot using a soft towel.
Make sure you don’t leave the baking soda on the floor for too long. It’s always better to repeat a process rather than risk prolonged exposure. Baking soda will dull the glossy finish on marble floors.
8. Use Carpets and Rugs
Placing a few carpets or rugs in high traffic areas can help to prevent wear on the floors. It will also limit dust and dirt.
You can also use doormats by entrances as a friendly reminder for visitors to wipe their shoes or remove them.
Using colorful rugs and carpets is an excellent way to show off your style and taste. Mix and match different colors and patterns to create a pleasant atmosphere for you and your family. They’ll also keep your feet warm in winter — marble can get cold.
Can You Clean Marble Floors Naturally?
Marble floors are best cleaned naturally, but only to some extent. We’re often advised to use home remedies such as vinegar and baking soda to clean various areas of our home. However, these shouldn’t be used on marble.
The best way to clean marble floors is by using hot water and a pH-neutral detergent, or an environmentally-friendly soap. You should steer clear of using acidic or alkaline products such as vinegar and baking soda.
However, if you do choose to use baking soda on stubborn stains, do so with caution. Don’t allow the baking soda to sit and soak on the surface for long periods, rub lightly with a damp cloth then rinse thoroughly.
How Can I Fix Dull Spots on My Marble Floors?
Dull spots can quickly happen if you use the wrong type of cleaner or certain spills are left. Acidic stains such as red wine, coffee and soda, or alkaline stains like olive oil and green tea can also cause dullness.
These can cause dullness even if you clean the spill right away with water and a mild detergent. Luckily, you can restore the glossy surface using a polishing powder specialized for marble.
How Should I Clean Urine from Marble Floors?
In households with pets or young children, mishaps can happen. When it does, you must clean it as quickly as possible. Urine can cause etch marks or stains on marble, which can be difficult to remove if left.
Clean fresh urine using a soft microfiber cloth dipped in soapy water (preferably warm). Wipe the urine starting from the edges and work your way to the center — this will prevent the liquid from spreading and potentially worsening the stain.
If you discover old urine stains, it might look like a dark mark or dull spot. To clean this, you need something a little stronger than soapy water.
The Natural Stone Institute recommends making a marble poultice. This is a paste created using a liquid cleaner and mixed with kaolin, whiting, powdered chalk, talc or white molding plaster (8).
You spread the paste over the stain and cover it with plastic. Allow it to sit for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner will draw the stain out, and the white material will then absorb it.
You can use marble poultice to remove vomit stains as well if these have left a mark.
Can I Polish My Marble Floors Myself?
Marble floors are best polished by professionals — especially if you’re dealing with a large area. You may cause damage if you’re not sure of the process — and fixing marble floors can be expensive.
Your marble floors will surely become the centerpiece of your house. The elegant veins and subtle colors can be mesmerizing to look at.
Whether you have natural or cultured floors, they need careful maintenance. Stay away from abrasive cleaners and only use pH-neutral detergents. Consider sealing your marble floors to keep stains and spills from settling and causing discoloration.
How do you clean your marble floors? Share your tricks and tips in the section below.