Travertine is a type of natural stone that can be made into tiles and is often used on floors and in bathrooms. Sometimes travertine is referred to as marble or limestone, but it is not actually either one of these stones. Travertine is the result of calcium carbonate deposits. Cleaning mildew and other stains from travertine tile can be tricky because many commercial cleansers will actually harm the stone. Removing stains from travertine as soon as you notice them can help retain the beauty of the stone.
Avoid letting mildew and soap scum stains sit on your travertine tiles for a long period of time. Fresher stains are always easier to remove than established ones.
Use a soft-bristled brush and warm water to attack the mildew before you resort to any other type of cleaner. Sometimes with a bit of perseverance, water alone may be all you need. Tackle small areas and corners with an old toothbrush.
Mix together equal parts of water and white vinegar as a more potent way to remove mildew from your travertine. Test the mixture on an unobtrusive area of tile before you clean the entire floor or shower. If the vinegar mixture alters the colour of your tile in the test patch, discontinue use. If no harm is done, gently scrub the mildew off the tiles with the acidic liquid.
Buy a specially formulated cleanser from a stone care manufacturer such as Stone Care International (see Resources). Powdered cleansers of this kind may be used on marble, granite and travertine without scratching or otherwise damaging the surface.
Apply a sealant to your travertine tiles once a year, or more often if you encounter frequent mildew. Sealants are available from your tile dealer or at home improvement stores and protect your tile from a variety of stains.
If you have continuing problems with mildew on your travertine tiles, it could mean there is water leaking behind the tile into the wall. To prevent extensive damage, consult a plumber if cleaning and resealing the tile is not effective. Plumbersdirectory.com can assist you in finding a local service provider (see Resources).
Do not use commercial cleaning products that contain bleach to clean travertine surfaces. The bleach will damage the appearance of the natural stone.