Marble is a metamorphic rock that has been used in construction and sculpture for thousands of years. It is made up of a mosaic of carbonate crystals such as calcite or dolomite. The colors of marble stone, which make it such a versatile and attractive stone, come from impurities in between the crystals such as silt or iron oxide. Marble is porous and can therefore absorb staining liquids and powders. It is also damaged by acidic substances.
Wipe down marble surfaces with a wet microfibre cloth daily to remove any dirt. Dry the surfaces with a second dry cloth. Use distilled water, as the minerals in hard tap water can leave permanent ring marks and dull the surface of polished marble. Use a cloth mop and hot water to clean marble floors.
Do not use acidic cleaning products or even vinegar on marble of any type. Acids dissolve the carbonates in marble and will etch the surface of polished stone, leaving it dull and rough. Remove any spilt liquids such as vinegar, wine juice and acidic soft drinks from the surface of marble as soon as possible. Use coasters to prevent drinks and condensation from staining the stone.
Remove stains left after a liquid spill with a non-acidic cleaning product such as soap, hydrogen peroxide or a solution of ammonia. Baking soda powder mixed with water until it forms a paste and applied to the site of a spill will remove stains and also neutralise any remaining acid. Leave the damp powder in place for 24 hours and then remove with a damp cloth.
Tackle grease stains on marble surfaces and fingermarks on marble ornaments with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Tougher grease stains can be tackled the same way but with white spirit instead of rubbing alcohol. Stubborn stains should be scrubbed with a stiff brush and hot soapy water.
Seal and polish marble surfaces with a commercial marble sealant and wax available from supermarkets or kitchen shops to prevent stains. Do not use car wax on marble as it can cause yellowing, especially on pale marbles. Check that all sealing and polishing products do not contain toxic substances if they are used on kitchen surfaces. Unsealed marble can be polished using a chamois leather normally used to dry and polish cars.
Treat rust stains on marble with a commercial rust removal product. Apply for the minimum time needed as rust removers are acidic and will damage marble surfaces.