How to clean an old marble fireplace mantel & surround

Updated February 21, 2017

Marble provides a beautiful outline for any fireplace. The mottled colours and smooth finish of marble accentuate the flickering fire. Because of its beauty, marble is often used to make fireplace mantels and surrounds. Marble is a delicate surface, however, and is susceptible to staining from the smoke and soot produced by the fireplace. Marble can be scratched by abrasive cleaners, so extra care is needed when cleaning. Thankfully, there are a number of products and methods for cleaning marble fireplace settings so you can keep your hearth looking warm and beautiful.

Soak the rag or sponge in clean, warm water. Use it to remove surface dirt and soot on the marble. Dry with a clean towel.

Wear protective gloves when working with trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaners. TSP cleaners are available at hardware stores and stone speciality stores; they will not damage the stone, but in large amounts they can irritate skin.

Mix eight teaspoons of TSP cleaner into one gallon of warm water. For extremely stubborn stains, you can add as much as one cup of TSP cleaner to one gallon, but this will be a very strong cleaning solution and should be used on a limited basis.

Soak a washrag or, if necessary, a soft-bristle scrub brush in the TSP cleaner, and wipe the marble mantle and surround clean. Repeat as necessary until all stains are gone.

Rinse thoroughly with a rag soaked in clean water to remove any streaks or remaining cleaner. Towel dry completely.

Rub marble polish onto the mantel's surface with a soft cloth if you want an extra boost of shine. Follow product instructions for drying time; make sure the polish is completely dry before using the fireplace.


Never use abrasive cleaning products or scrubbers like steel wool to clean marble, as it will scratch the surface. If you are unsure about a certain product, consult an expert at a stone speciality store.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Washrag or soft sponge
  • Towel
  • Protective gloves
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner
  • Bowl or bucket
  • Scrub brush
  • Marble polish (optional)
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.