Travertine, marble, and limestone are all very similar in physical and chemical composition, so cleaning and care procedures are practically the same for all three types of stone. Less dense than granite, these stones are more sensitive to acidic liquids like wine, juice, and coffee.
Additionally, the type of finish you select for your stone can also impact how much a spill or stain will affect it. A honed or tumbled finish is more susceptible to staining and dulling by etching. Because these finishes leave the porous stone as is, many times they require a sealer to guard against general and daily use. A polished stone is going to be more resistant to stains or etching.
It is best to discuss these options with your sales associate or designer. Many people are comfortable with the beautiful patina that forms on counter tops or floors long after they have been installed. General and regular cleaning of these surfaces will greatly help keep your stone looking fantastic as the years go on.
How to Best Protect and Clean Natural Stone
- Test and seal the stone. If your home has natural stone installed in the bathroom, kitchen, dining room, etc. and it has a honed or tumbled finish, check with your sales associate or designer to make sure the stone was sealed after installation. This will help in the event of a spill of red wine, cranberry juice, or another aggressive agent, especially on countertops and floors.
- Wipe up spills immediately. Stone is sensitive to acidic materials like tomato sauce, ketchup, carbonated beverages. It is best to clean up quickly using hot water and (if available) a stone cleaning product. Do not use vinegar, lemon, or orange cleaning agents, bleach, ammonia, or store-bought products that contain acids, alkalis, or other potentially harmful chemicals. If unsure, always test spot in an area out of sight.
- Dust ‘mop’ your surfaces. Use a clean, dry, non-treated dust mop with your regular cleaning. Ideally, wet mop with hot water and a specially formulated stone cleaning agent. We do not recommend vacuuming stone floors as this can lead to chipping the stone.
- Protect and cover. Doormats and carpet runners can be used to help keep foot traffic from bringing in dirt and elements that might damage the stone. For countertops and baths, use coasters for drinks, and decorative trays for cosmetics, bath products, and toiletries to help protect the stone from any harmful substances. Prevention is always the best remedy for maintaining natural stone.
- Make a poultice for stubborn stains. If your stone does get stained, and regular stone-centric cleaning products do not help, a poultice may be the solution. Create a paste by combining a formulated stone cleaner with baking powder. Smooth this over the stain and cover with a clear plastic wrap. Let stand for several days and the poultice will slowly draw the stain out. Remove the poultice with warm water and buff with a cotton cloth or chamois.
- Fixing deep stains. In the case of a serious stain that cannot be removed using the above directions, an alkaline cleaner may need to be administered. This type of cleaner can be found in most tile and stone supply stores. It should be the last resort for cleaning natural stone.
- Ask a professional. Natural stone is an excellent choice of stone for many parts of your home. Its luxurious appeal is always a selling point for home-owners and real estate agents alike. When you decide to incorporate stone into your design plan, ask a professional the limitations and performance of the stone. Our designers are knowledgeable in the 38 different stones we offer, as well as the wide variety of additional products we carry.