Why Do Marble Countertops Stain So Easily?
A third-generation stone care expert weighs in.
Marble countertops can be a beautiful accent to your kitchen or bathroom, but knowing how to properly clean and care for them is key. "The natural geological process of crystallization gives marble, and any other natural stone, its unique color, veining, and texture," Lenny Sciarrino, president and co-founder of Granite Gold, explains. "However, marble is softer and more sensitive than other stone finishes, and therefore can stain or etch more easily without proper maintenance." Fortunately, keeping your marble countertops spot-free is easier than it sounds. "With the right cleaning and sealing routines, many marble stains can be removed," Sciarrino affirms. "More importantly, they can be prevented if you understand what causes them." Interested in learning more about the different types of marble stains, why they occur, and how to treat and avoid them? From the best cleaners to use to polishing tips and more, Sciarrino shares his insight ahead.
Marble is a soft, porous surface.
Ask anyone with marble countertops and they'll say the same: Even small water spills can lead to spots and stains. "Marble is a calcium carbonate, which is a much softer and more porous natural stone than granite, another popular kitchen and bathroom finish," Sciarrino explains. "Like marble, water is also calcium-based, and can leave mineral deposits behind once it dries."
Certain household cleaners can stain marble.
If you're wiping down your marble countertops with a traditional multi-purpose spray, Sciarrino says you're making a mistake. "Popular household cleaners often contain synthetic materials, including pigments and solvents, that can break down the protective seal of your marble and lead to stains, etches, a dulled surface, and costly damages over time," he explains. "Always use cleaning solutions that are pH neutral and specifically formulated for natural stone, such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner Spray ($4.96, walmart.com)."
Be careful with acidic drinks.
The high acidity content of some of our favorite beverages means that a simple spill can create a major problem. "Coffee, soda, tea, and wine can quickly penetrate the pores of the stone, often etching the surface and leaving behind a stain," Sciarrino says. The same goes for fruit juices and any other food or beverage items that contain citrus or citric acid. "Always use cutting boards to prepare meals instead of prepping food directly on a marble surface, and immediately wipe away any spills," he advises. "The longer they're left on the surface, the more likely they'll break down the protective seal and penetrate the pores of the stone, leaving behind a stain."
Reseal your marble at least once a year.
A little sealant spray (try Granite Gold's Sealant Spray ($34.80, walmart.com)) can go a long way in protecting your marble from stains. "Frequent sealing provides constant protection against oil-based stains such as salad dressing, cooking oil, or vegetable oil," Sciarrino explains. "When they come in contact with unsealed natural stone, the oils can penetrate the pores and leave unsightly reminders." To determine whether or not your marble needs to be resealed, Sciarrino recommends pouring small amounts of water (about three inches in diameter) on different areas of the countertop and letting them sit for 30 minutes. "If the water beads, then the stone remains sealed. However, if the stone is penetrated—look for a dark mark or ring created by the water—it is time to reseal."
Polish your marble to remove water buildup.
In addition to resealing your marble as often as needed, Sciarrino says that regularly polishing the stone can help prevent unsightly hard water stains. "Polishing your stone is as simple as spraying the polish onto the stone, buffing it with a lint-free cloth, and wiping it dry," he explains. "Doing this frequently will help reinforce the protective seal and prevent water spots and fingerprint marks."