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How do I clean marble & alabaster?

Marble and alabaster are commonly used as countertops, flooring, decor objects and around fireplaces. These surfaces require extra care and proper cleaning. Acidic or abrasive cleaners should never be used on these surfaces as they may damage them irreparably. While similar, there are different cleaning techniques that must be used for marble and alabaster. To prevent staining, always test a small, hidden area of the surface to be cleaned before cleaning the remainder.

Buff the surface with a damp, soft cloth that is completely clean. Small particles can wedge in terry cloth, for example, and scratch the surface of the marble. Terry fabric should never be used. Wipe down the area thoroughly and buff with the cloth to make it shine.

Dab a small amount of dish soap on a damp rag. For tougher stains or spills, use a neutral dish soap and dab a pea-size amount on your damp rag. Work it into the spot using a circular motion. Rinse the area clean with another damp rag but don't apply water directly to the surface.

Mix ammonia and water for a stronger cleaning solution. If the above methods fail, mix 1/2 cup of ammonia with 1 gallon of distilled water. Dip your rag into this mixture and gently clean the marble surface.

Spot-clean the area with the damp rag. Water should never be applied directly to alabaster, which is very porous. Use a soft, damp rag and spot-clean any areas that appear to be dirty or stained. Once again, do not use a terry cloth rag for this purpose, as it could scratch the alabaster.

Mix 1 tsp of dish soap with 1 qt. of warm water. Dip your rag into this mixture and wring out any excess water completely. Spot-clean the area using gentle, circular motions to remove any staining.

Allow the surface time to dry completely before re-treating. Alabaster may still appear to be stained while it is wet. Give it enough time to dry, typically a few hours, before re-treating any area.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft rags
  • Neutral dish soap (no dyes, no scents)
  • Ammonia
  • Distilled water
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About the Author

Kate McFarlin is a licensed insurance agent with extensive experience in covering topics related to marketing, small business, personal finance and home improvement. She began her career as a Web designer and also specializes in audio/video mixing and design.