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How to Clean Travertine Floors

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What even is travertine? And how do you keep it clean?

When cleaning Travertine flooring, it’s common to think you can use any old cleaner because the flooring is so durable. But you have to be careful.

If you’re wondering how to clean travertine flooring, look no further. Whether you have recently installed this type of flooring at home or you’re considering it, it’s essential to keep this classic material clean.

We’ll walk you through the best cleaning methods so that you can take care of your beautiful flooring. Maintain that marvelous feeling that you’re in the mountains.


What Is Travertine?

Travertine is a natural stone within the same category as marble, onyx, and granite. However, that’s where the similarities end. Travertine is formed in limestone caves or hot springs by the condensation of calcium carbonate. When it hardens, it creates a durable stone.

Other natural stones like marble and granite go through a process called metamorphosis. Hence why these are also known as metamorphic rocks. This means the stone undergoes pressure and heat, becoming either shiny like marble or sparkling like granite.

Travertine, on the other hand, is entirely natural. Its key characteristic is the tiny pores caused by carbon dioxide bubbles present in the material as it sets. These pores, however, are also what make the floor type sensitive to specific cleaning methods (1).

Because travertine has been used for centuries, you can find it in some of the most iconic architectural buildings. The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in Paris, France, are only some of the amazing creations of travertine.

Travertine is sold in tile form for easy installation. It’s available in multiple earthy colors such as beige, rust, tans, and browns. Although travertine is a hard stone, it’s not the right choice for every room of the house.

Advantages of Travertine Floors

Travertine floors are making a comeback. People are beginning to choose this stone over others. Here are a few reasons why you should choose travertine:

1. Durable

Travertine is a hard surface that can take a significant beating without showing signs of damage. Scratches, chips, or cracks aren’t likely to happen if the tile is natural.

A weathering effect can occur over time, and many experts highly prize this. It gives each piece a distinct character that reminds us of ancient architecture.

You can choose between natural tiles and polished or honed tiles. Finished tiles are generally less resistant to damage but more glossy or shiny.

2. Prestigious

When you install travertine tiles in your home, you’ll add a sense of prestige to the atmosphere. The earthy tones and natural patterns come together to create a unique look in your entrance hall, living room, or kitchen.

Because travertine occurs naturally, no tile is the same as its neighbor. Many people see travertine tiles as nature’s work of art, and we can’t disagree.

3. Subtle

We might be going against the above point here, but hear us out. Travertine might be prestigious, but it’s also subtle. When you open the door and walk into a house with this flooring, you slowly absorb it.

The soft beige, tan, and brown color palettes create a calm feeling in a room. You’re not overwhelmed with bright colors or mirroring shine. Instead, the dominance of the earthy colors soothes you with every step.

4. Easy to Repair

Durable doesn’t mean unbreakable, and unfortunately, damage can happen. However, the great thing about travertine flooring is that it’s easy to repair.

Because it comes in tile forms, you can easily remove a broken tile and replace it without having to remove sections. Also, thanks to the earthy colors, scratches aren’t very noticeable.

5. Long-Lasting

With regular maintenance and care, travertine floors can last for decades. As we mentioned above, a weathering effect — which many find highly attractive — will occur over the years. But if you prefer, you can prevent this by applying a stone sealer periodically.

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How to Clean Travertine Floors

Cleaning travertine floors isn’t difficult if you’re using a suitable cleaner and tools. Maintaining your floors is also straightforward if you prevent spills and stains from settling on the surface.

Do’s and Don’ts

Travertine might be a strong stone, but it’s also quite sensitive because of its microscopic pores. Here are a few things to keep in mind before cleaning your floors:

  • Choose a suitable product: When you clean natural stone, be careful with chemicals. Travertine tiles can absorb chemicals and liquids, which will then discolor, dull, or damage the tile. So, choose a product specifically formulated for travertine, such as Black Diamond Granite Cleaner.
  • pH-neutral: All natural stones are best cleaned using a pH-neutral cleaner. This means the product isn’t acidic or alkaline and, therefore, not as harsh or abrasive. It’s also safer to handle.
  • Use dish soap occasionally: Dish soap isn’t as harsh as other chemical cleaners, but you should still avoid it. However, you can use it to clean your floors three or four times per year if you like.
  • Always test your solution: Before starting, do a small spot test in an inconspicuous area to ensure the product is safe.
  • Don’t use a soaked mop: Wring the mop out as much as you can until it’s damp. A soaked mop can cause water infiltration, which can lead to damage.
  • Avoid vinegar or citrus: You should never use vinegar on travertine floors, and neither should citrus fruits such as lemons. The acid will dull the surface (2).
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals: Chemicals such as bleach and ammonia should be kept far away from travertine floors. These can quickly cause damage and dullness and can even age the floors.

Cleaning Travertine Floors

With all those warnings ringing in your head, you’re probably wondering: how do you clean these floors then? It only takes six easy steps, and your floors will be free of dirt and stains.

  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

1. Remove Dust and Dirt

Before mopping, remove dust and dirt. This will make the floors easier to clean, and the results will be better.

You can use a flared broom to collect debris quickly and fine dust — collect in a dustpan and throw it away. However, our favorite tool to use is a dust mop. Dust mops have a microfiber head or pad that glides over the floor effortlessly.

The microfibers will attract fine dust, dirt, and hair that might be present on the floor. When you’re done, throw the pad in the washing machine, so it’s clean for the next time.

2. Prepare the Solution

Warm water effectively cleans travertine floors since it cuts through most soil and grease. Fill your bucket with warm water and add the cleaner you’ve chosen. Read the directions to ensure you use the product correctly.

If you use dish soap, add only a small squirt to the warm water.

3. Wring the Mop Thoroughly

Dip the mop in the bucket of warm water and thoroughly wring out the excess. We like to use a spin mop since it effectively wrings out most water without leaving your hands feeling twisted.

Another handy tool for travertine floors is a spray mop. It resembles a dust mop but has a spray nozzle and trigger attached. Add your solution to the container and spritz as you go.

4. Start Mopping

Begin at the farthest part of the room and work towards the entrance or exit in sections. Keep dipping your mop and wringing out the excess frequently. This will prevent streaks as the floor dries.

Quick Tip

If you have a large room to cover, use one bucket for each half of the area. Once you’ve finished with one half, change the water and solution to a fresh batch.

5. Rinse the Floor

When you’re done mopping, fill a bucket with clean, cold water. Start as you did before and mop the floor once again using the freshwater — you should still keep the mop damp. Once the water looks dirty, dump it, and fill it with fresh water.

6. Dry With a Cloth

Drying your travertine floors is essential if you want to preserve them and improve the results of your labor. Use a soft cloth or towel to dry the floor. This will prevent streaks from forming and eliminate any chance of standing water.

How to Disinfect Travertine Floors

If you have children or pets traipsing around frequently, you might like to disinfect your floors every so often. This is usually done with a chemical such as bleach or a natural product such as vinegar. However, these are two huge no-nos for natural stone such as travertine.

To effectively disinfect travertine floors, you can use mild, non-acidic dish soap. Add only about a tablespoon to a gallon of warm water and mop the floor following the above steps.

However, a residue or film is likely to occur because you’re using soap. Rinse the floor thoroughly with clean water to prevent this. Once you’re done, dry the floor, as usual, using a towel or cloth.

How to Clean Grout Lines

The grout lines in travertine floors allow the individual tiles to expand or contract as the season and temperature change. It effectively prevents the tiles from rubbing against each other and cracking. However, the grout is also susceptible to water damage, discoloration, stains, and even mold.

You can clean travertine grout lines using equal parts of water and baking soda to form a paste. Scrub it into the lines using a small brush or specialized grout brush. Try to keep the paste and brush on the grout and away from the tile to prevent damage.

Keep In Mind

Commercial grout cleaners can contain bleach. These should not be used on travertine tile or grout as bleach can etch the natural stone.

If your grout lines are beyond repair, you can regrout. Remove the grout between the lines entirely and replace it with new, fresh grout. This may seem like an arduous task. However, it’s much easier and cheaper than replacing the tiles due to damage.

Maintaining Travertine Floors

Travertine tiles don’t attract or hold onto dirt and dust like carpets and hardwood. They’re, therefore, easy to maintain and keep clean. Need some help with yours? These are our top tips:

1. Sweep Regularly

Dust and dirt can make travertine tiles look dull. However, it’s easy to keep them looking clean by sweeping regularly.

Use a soft broom or a dust mop to remove small rocks or dirt particles. If left behind, these might cause a few subtle scratches when dragged around by feet. So it’s essential to remove them.

Sweeping a couple of times a week should suffice. However, if you have a busy home, you might find yourself cleaning at least every other day.

If you want to use a vacuum instead, do so with caution. Use a vacuum with a hard floor setting and soft attachment to avoid scratches or damage.

Avoid Abrasive Tools

Steer clear of using beater rolls or stiff bristles while vacuuming. This will damage the floor and cause deeper scratches that are difficult to remove.

2. Mop Weekly

By mopping the floors weekly, you restore the surface and eliminate any buildup or stains. Remember to use a mild cleaner and damp mop for the best results. This will help your travertine floors age gracefully and maintain their natural beauty for years.

3. Clean Spills as They Happen

To maintain the beauty of your travertine floors, clean up spills immediately. Acidic spills such as soda, wine, or orange juice can damage the tiles and cause staining.

If the stain has settled, use a poultice to remove it. A poultice is a paste consisting of a chemical and an absorbing agent. You can buy ready-made poultices or make your own.

What kind of poultice you need depends on the stain, so make sure you inspect it before buying or making your paste. And, always make sure it’s safe for travertine floors.

Poultices are easy to use. All you have to do is apply the paste evenly and generously to the stain. Cover it with plastic and leave for 24 to 48 hours.

Sometimes the poultice requires several days to work. Just keep repeating the process until you’re pleased with the results (3).

The poultice can sometimes be unsuccessful at removing a stain entirely. If this is the case, you may need to resort to other options, such as replacing the tile.

Keep In Mind

If you’re not familiar with using poultices or how chemicals may react, consult a professional. Never mix chemicals as this can create harmful fumes or permanently damage the floor.

4. Use Rugs and Area Carpets

To protect your floors against scratches and wear, you can lay down a few rugs or area carpets. Place them in areas where there’s usually a lot of activity.

We highly recommend that you make good use of doormats. These will also work as a gentle reminder that people need to remove their shoes before stepping inside.

How to Seal Travertine Floors

The microscopic pores in the travertine stone will absorb any liquid left on the floor. This can lead to damage such as discoloration, stains, material degradation, and mold. To prevent this, experts recommend that you seal your floors during installation.

There are usually two kinds of sealers used to protect travertine floors. One is a penetrating sealer that will seep deep down into the stone and simply clog the pores. This makes it close to impossible for any liquids or moisture to penetrate.

The next sealer used is a surface barrier. This creates a clear coating on the top of the tiles that keeps stains and liquids at bay.

Surface barrier sealers are generally reapplied every few years to maintain the protective layer. Some enhancing surface sealers tend to darken the natural color of the travertine tiles and give them a glossy finish. Some homeowners prefer this, while others prefer the weathered, natural look.

If you prefer a glossy finish, you should re-apply the sealer more frequently. However, if you prefer the weathered look, keep the sealer to a minimum or use a natural sealer. Travertine experts and manufacturers recommend a sealer to be reapplied every three to five years (4).


Maintenance Is Key

Travertine floors are pristine and can add considerable value to your home — whether you prefer your floors glossy or weathered. However, maintenance is key to keeping your floors looking divine. By sweeping and mopping regularly, you can help the natural beauty of travertine stone to shine through.

Avoid acidic cleaners such as vinegar, bleach, and ammonia, as these can etch the surface and cause substantial damage. Instead, opt for a mild, pH-neutral cleaner mixed with warm water to keep your floors shining. Finally, remember to reseal your floors to protect them from liquids and stains.

Headshot of Amy Anthony

About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!