Simple Tips for Safely Cleaning Natural Stone Surfaces

Many homes and businesses today use granite, marble, travertine, slate, limestone, or other natural stone to make their spaces more beautiful and attractive. Natural stone is an investment — one you’ll want to preserve for years to come.

How to Clean Natural Stone

Regularly cleaning is one of the most effective ways to keep your natural stone surfaces looking and performing like new. Be sure the methods and solutions you choose for cleaning natural stone also protect your surfaces from damage and discoloration. Start with these simple tips.

1. Avoid Strong Chemicals and Acidic Solutions

Harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners, and acidic solutions including diluted lemon or vinegar can damage your natural stone surfaces and degrade sealants, potentially leading to stone restoration and repairs that come with added costs. Ideally, you should be using neutral stone cleaning solutions formulated specifically for this type of surface.

2. Put Away Scouring Pads and Steel Wool

Scouring pads, steel wool and other abrasive cleaning tools can leave scratches and etches on soft natural stone surfaces, marring their beauty, removing protective seals that give natural stone its polish, and leaving the surface more vulnerable to damage. Instead, clean natural stone with a soft cloth or towel.

3. Dry Natural Stone Surfaces Immediately

Any liquids or moisture left to sit on natural stone surface can leave behind stains and lead to a buildup of hard-to-remove limescale. As soon as you’ve cleaned the surface, or whenever you notice moisture or liquid, be sure to immediately dry the area with a clean cloth or kitchen towel. 

We recommend lightly blotting the area dry, instead of wiping which can spread the liquid to a wider area. Likewise, be sure to check for leaky faucets, soap dispensers, potted plants, and trash containers that may leave stains and marks caused by moisture and dampness.

4. Regularly Clean Surfaces Even If Sealed

Even natural stone that has been sealed still needs regular cleaning. While natural stone p help preserve the look of the stone and minimize stains, most surface sealants weaken fairly quickly — leaving the stone vulnerable to staining, wear patterns, microbes, and discoloration.

Regular sealing along with cleaning is the best combo to protect your natural stone investment. We strongly recommend sealing all stone surfaces — in particular recently installed marble, granite, and limestone — for optimal stain protection. 

5. Treat Your Natural Stone Gently

Natural stone surfaces like marble may appear to be hard, but they can still be scratched, etched, chipped, cracked, and otherwise damaged. Avoid dragging or dropping heavy or sharp-edged objects across your natural stone surfaces. Marble restoration, travertine restoration, and indeed any kind of stone restoration can be costly.

Granite countertops can also scratch very easily with enough force, so be sure to use cutting boards for food preparation — particularly when cutting lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits that can leave behind dull spots.

6. Disinfecting and Sanitizing Natural Stone 

Consider what comes into contact with your natural stone surfaces. You place grocery bags and prepare meals on your granite countertops. Your kids play on your marble floors or travertine floors. To help provide a healthier environment for your family, you want those surfaces to be clean and hygienic.

Because natural stone is porous, these surfaces make an ideal location for viruses, bacteria and microbes to thrive and multiply.

In fact, researchers have found 362 different species of bacteria thriving in granite countertops, which can hide up to 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. Even when a seal is applied, microbes can make their way into tiny crevices and pours. 

How do you get the shine back to natural stone?

Natural stone, be it in countertops, flooring, or jewelry, can lose its luster over time due to wear, dirt, and exposure. But fear not! Bringing back that original shine is achievable with a bit of care. Here's how:

1. Clean Thoroughly:

  • Begin by cleaning the stone with a gentle, pH-neutral soap or a stone-specific cleaner.
  • Avoid acidic or abrasive cleaners as they can damage the stone's surface.

2. Polish the Surface:

  • For countertops and large surfaces, consider using a stone polishing compound. Always test a small area first.

3. Seal to Protect:

  • Once cleaned and polished, seal the stone to maintain its shine and protect it from future damage. Use a high-quality stone sealer suitable for your specific stone type.

4. Regular Maintenance:

  • Dust and wipe down natural stone surfaces regularly to prevent accumulation of dirt and grime.
  • For floors, use mats or rugs in high-traffic areas to reduce wear.

5. Consult a Professional:

  • If the stone has deep scratches, stains, or etching, it may be best to consult a stone care professional. They can provide expert restoration services to bring back the natural beauty and shine of the stone.

Remember, each type of natural stone – whether it's granite, marble, or slate – has its own care guidelines. Always check the stone's specific care instructions and when in doubt, consult an expert.

Call the PROs at COIT for a professional clean!

Can you use vinegar to clean natural stone?

Using vinegar to clean natural stone is not recommended. Natural stone surfaces, such as granite, marble, and limestone, are sensitive to acidic substances. Vinegar, being acidic, can etch the surface of the stone, leading to dullness and potential damage.

Over time, the use of vinegar can also degrade the protective sealants applied to the stone, making it more susceptible to staining and other forms of damage. For optimal care and longevity of natural stone surfaces, it's best to use pH-balanced, stone-specific cleaners that are designed to safely and effectively clean without causing harm.

Can you use baking soda to clean natural stone?

While baking soda is a popular cleaning agent for many surfaces, it's not advisable to use it on natural stone. Baking soda is alkaline, and when used on natural stone surfaces like granite, marble, or limestone, it can disrupt the stone's natural pH balance.

This disruption can lead to discoloration, dullness, and even weaken the protective sealants of the stone. Over time, this can make the stone more vulnerable to staining and other damages.

For maintaining the beauty and integrity of natural stone, it's essential to opt for cleaners specifically formulated for stone care, ensuring both effective cleaning and preservation of the stone's natural characteristics.

When to Use Professional Stone Cleaning Services

For the ultimate deep clean that also sterilizes, disinfects and sanitizes natural stone surfaces, you may want to bring in professional cleaners. Your best bet is to choose an independently certified professional cleaning service that specializes in natural stone cleaning. 

At COIT, our natural stone cleaning professionals use lab-developed and field-tested solutions that cut through tough dirt and grease while also being safe to use on your stone surfaces. Along with deep cleaning and sanitizing, our trained technicians carefully hone the stone’s surface to remove scratches and etches, and restore stone to its original shine with state-of-the-art equipment.

To protect against future staining, COIT techs finish by sealing and buffing natural stone.

The time and care you put into your natural stone surfaces today will ensure they continue to add beauty and functionality to your home or business well into the future.

Call the PROs at COIT for a professional clean!