How to Clean Marble Floors (in 5 Easy Steps)

By Harold K. Hardesty Updated January 15, 2021

Keep your marble floors clean and damage-free

How to Clean Marble Floors (in 5 Easy Steps)

Marble floors add a sort of elegance and sophistication to any room. If you want to bring a touch of royalty to your house, installing marble floors is the right thing to do.

However, being pristine and high-maintenance, cleaning marble floors is a bit trickier than other natural stone floors. Since marble is porous, it can sustain damage without proper care.

Plus, the floor type has a glossy sheen on the surface that can be removed by harsh chemicals, like ammonia. Thus, you need to know the right cleaners and cleaning methods to keep marble spotless.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to clean marble floors.

Table of Contents

How Are Marble Floors Made?

Marble is used by civilizations throughout time. The Greeks used it to make sculptures since the material was easy to mold. It’s softness made it the prime candidate for building statues.

With time, the purpose of marble changed. Today, we use it for flooring in residential and commercial buildings. You can buy it in many common colors, including red, black, and pink.

Marble may fool the unknowing eye by appearing soft and gentle. However, the material is much stronger than it may appear. Being a metamorphic rock(1), marble is made from limestone or other carbonate rocks.

Due to the pressure and heat, the mineral grains in marble recrystallize. Thus, the material is a mosaic of crystals from sedimentary rocks(2). When impurities add to these crystals, they change the material’s color.

For instance, silica impurities make the marble appear green. Green marble constitutes limestone, silica, and dolomite. Similarly, impurities like sand, iron oxides, silt, and clay also impart different colors to the material.

How Is Natural And Cultured Marble Different?

When installing floors, you’ll be given a choice between the uncultured and cultured stone.

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Natural Marble

The major constituent of natural marble is calcite(3). It’s the calcite that forms ‘veins’ in the marble tiles. The same mineral also determines the color in dolomite rocks and limestone.

My Tip

You should opt for natural marble floors if you prefer their uniqueness over cultured marble.

Since the veins form a different pattern in each part of the natural stone, no two tiles will be the time. However, a good tile-installing professional will ensure that the tiles are laid in uniformity.

Natural marble is porous. That’s why you have to be extra considerate when cleaning it. From choosing the cleaning solution to picking the right tools for the job, you have to factor in the floor’s porosity at every step.

You can also install marble floors in the bathrooms or kitchens. However, these are high-moisture areas, prone to causing damage to the stone. For these areas, you must seal the marble flooring to keep its finish intact.

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Cultured marble

Contrary to natural marble, cultured marble is man-made. The experts add polyester resins and dust to give color and veining patterns to the material. Cultured marble is less porous than pure stone as a sealing gel coat is added to the tiles during the process.

It’s due to this gel that cultured marble appears more glossy and has uniform veins. Cultured marble is commonly used in elegant bathrooms since it’s water-resistant – the ideal choice for vanity tops.

However, this doesn’t eliminate the need for cultured marble to be cleaned regularly. Like natural marble, harsh chemicals can damage the cultured surface, wearing off its finish and gloss.

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How To Remove Dust And Dirt From Marble Floors?

As they’re lighter in color, marble floors get dirty quite quickly. Thus, sweeping them regularly is a fantastic way to keep them spotless.

Use a dry mop or dust mop for cleaning. Attach a microfiber cloth to the end of the dust mop when mopping the floor. Microfiber attracts dust, pet hair, and dirt while being gentle on the natural stone.

Alternatively, you can use a flared broom for sweeping the floors.

Precaution

When choosing a broom, make sure to opt for one with soft and flared brushes. Unflared brooms tend to be harsher and don’t cover a larger area while cleaning.

In contrast, flared brooms’ ends look like split-ends and gather more dust and dirt in one sweep. Plus, they don’t damage the floors as they’re comparatively gentler.

It’s best to skip the vacuum cleaner since it can damage natural stone beyond repair. However, if you do use a vacuum, it must be on hard floor settings – the lowest.

While you clean the marble flooring with a vacuum, don’t apply excessive pressure. It’s better if the vac has rubber wheels as they don’t damage the floors and move smoothly.

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How To Clean Marble Floors?

You don’t need a harsh cleaning solution or scrubbing tool to clean marble floors. Instead, you can wash them using a few materials that will most probably be available in your cleaning closet already.

What You’ll Need

Here are the supplies you need to clean marble floors:

Step by Step Instructions

If you’re confused about which tool to buy, look for one that’s designed specifically for mopping the floor types made of natural stone. Once you have all the materials, you can get started.

1.Prepare Hot Water

As already discussed, you can’t use harsh cleaning agents on marble floors. Thus, you have to get the same effect with hot water. It can remove tough stains, dirt, and grease.

If you can get your hands on it, use distilled water. Since regular water contains mineral(4) impurities, it may cause build-up with regular cleaning.

On the contrary, distillation(5) rids tap water of impurities and only retains water’s two components – hydrogen and oxygen. You can make distilled water(6) at home or buy it from any store.

2.Mix the Cleaner

You can add a pH-neutral cleaner in hot water. A pH-neutral cleaning agent is neither acidic nor alkaline. Thus, it doesn’t damage the marble flooring’s finish or vein pattern. Additionally, it does not irritate your skin while you mop the floor with it.

Read the instructions on the product packaging or label. Add the amount of liquid to hot water accordingly. If you’re using a spray mop, buy ready-made cartridges containing a safe solution for marble floors.

3.Mop

Use a mop with a microfiber cloth head to clean the floors. You can either use a manual mop or a spin mop. The latter breaks stains quickly and is easy to wring.

You can divide the room by the square foot or start at one corner and move towards the entrance. Work in small strokes, and don’t hesitate to overlap if the marks don’t go away the first time.

When the pad gets dirty, dip it in hot water again. Wring out the moisture and repeat the process until you’ve covered the whole room. The soap and water solution removes most stains from marble and is especially ideal for daily cleaning.

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4.Rinse the Floor

Fill a bucket with fresh water. Now, use the same method that you used earlier to rinse the floor – except this time, there’s no soap.

Wring the pad as required as too much moisture can damage the marble floors. While rinsing, your aim should be to remove leftover dust and suck as much liquid from the floors as possible.

5.Dry the Floor

Lastly, you must dry the floor to protect it from water damage. For this step, you can either use a soft cloth or put an old towel to use.

My Tip

Wrap a soft towel around the floor squeegee, and use it to cover a larger area at once. In this way, you won’t have to bend and strain your knees or back.

 

How To Avoid Damage?

Marble floors are meant to be a luxury item. That’s why they tend to be a bit more demanding in terms of care and cleaning. Here are some ways to prevent damage to marble flooring:

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Clean Spills Immediately

One of the first things I learned during my hotel cleaning days was that tending to stains immediately reduces the amount of cleaning time and throws elbow grease out of the picture – at least in most cases.

Marble quickly absorbs standing water and liquids since it’s porous. If you’ve spilled a color drink, like Coke or coffee, clean it immediately. Otherwise, the stain will set in, coloring the marble.

You can use a soft cloth to blot the mess. Instead of working in the center of the spill, start cleaning from the outside and move in gradually to avoid spreading.

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Do Not Air Dry

While most other floors air dries quickly and without damage, marble floors don’t dry the same way. While air drying, marble floors absorb water and the cleaning agent. As a result, discoloration occurs.

Therefore, you must dry the flooring using a clean towel or soft cloth after you’re done mopping. Make sure you use the minimal amount of water for this step and wring the towel periodically to avoid forming liquid pools on the floor.

It surely increases the time you’ll spend cleaning. But if you want the floors to retain their luster, be prepared to put in some extra time and effort.

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Use Mild Cleaners

Some dirt marks won’t go away with water – especially those in high traffic areas – and you’ll be forced to use a detergent. In such cases, opt for a pH-neutral agent, as these are gentle on the floors. In contrast, an acidic cleaner will leave etch marks, dulling the stone flooring.

They may not be as efficient as stronger cleaners, but when your floor’s finish is at stake, you should prioritize safety over efficiency.

Normally, you can use a homemade floor cleaner such as vinegar to clean floors. However, vinegar can be marble’s worst enemy since it’s acidic. While the neutral pH value is 7, vinegar has a much lower pH of 2.5. A lower pH is detrimental to marble floors.

Additionally, you should avoid using ammonia, citrus, and ceramic floor cleaners on marble floors.

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Use Felt on Scuff Marks

When you drag the furniture on the floors, their legs can leave scuff marks. Plus, wearing shoes inside the house can also cause scuffing on marble floors. Besides ruining the beauty of your marble floors, scuff marks also tend to get stubborn if not cleaned in time.

You can use a piece of felt to remove them. Put a small amount of mild cleaner and some water on the felt pad. Rub the floor and rinse the area. Use a towel to dry it once the marks are gone.

Alternatively, you can use a tennis ball to get the same results. Instead of rubbing the material in a circular motion, work along the grain.

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Seal the Floors

The best way to preserve the shine and royalness of your marble floors is by applying a sealant. You can find marble sealants at your local homeware shop or supply store. Alternatively, buy them online after ensuring that the product is designed for marble.

Sealing the floors will protect them from grease, water spills, and dirt marks. The application process is pretty simple. You have to apply a generous amount of the sealant on the floor. Let it dry, and then wipe off the extra sealing material.

Sealing protects the floors for three to five years, depending on the quality. You can make this a weekend DIY project. However, if you’re not the best at home improvement projects, consult a professional.

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Mop the Floors Occasionally

Sweep the floors every day to remove dirt particles. If left on the surface for too long, they can scratch the floor when dragged around with your feet. A dust mop is suitable for regular sweeping on marble floors.

Here’s the good news: marble floors don’t need to be mopped as frequently as other surfaces. You can only clean them once a month unless you have a busy home with kids and pets running around. The lesser you mop, the longer your floors will last.

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Baking Soda for Stubborn Messes

Instead of using a commercial cleaning agent, you can also use baking soda to remove tough etch marks from marble floors. Baking soda, being alkaline, has a higher pH than neutral. Plus, it falls in the category of mild-abrasive cleaners.

Thus, when you’re using baking soda, there’s no need to apply extra force or pressure. Instead, sprinkle baking soda on the stain. Let it sit for some time, and then use a damp cloth to rub the area.

Avoid scrubbing if you want to prevent scratches. Then, rinse the affected area using cold water. Doing this will neutralize the alkalinity of the baking soda.

Don’t leave the powder on the floors for too long. If the stain doesn’t go away in the first application, repeat the process instead of letting the baking soda sit on the marble for too long. Prolonged exposure to this alkaline cleaner can dull the gloss and sheen of marble color and veins.

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Place a Carpet

You can put a rug or a carpet in the busier parts of the home to prevent staining on the stone. Place doormats at the entrance of the house, and don’t walk on marble floors with your shoes on.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about marble flooring:

Why are there dull spots on my marble floors, and how can I clean them?

Dull spots are usually caused by using the wrong cleaner or letting colored spills seep into the material for too long. Spills like coffee, soda, and red wine can make the marble look dull.

It’s best to wipe the spills immediately, especially if they’re colored. If it’s too late, you can use a polishing powder to restore the floors’ glossy appearance.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning marble?

If your floors have oil-based stains, they’re best cleaned by using hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide is only suitable for light colors since it contains bleach. For darker colors, use acetone.

Apply peroxide directly to the stain and let it absorb for some time. Then, use a rag to wipe the liquid off the floor. You can also use a damp sponge for this.

Lastly, dry the area using a towel. Don’t let it air dry as the floor will absorb the remaining peroxide, becoming dull in the long run.

How to clean urine from marble floors?

If you have pets or kids at home, such accidents are likely. When something like this happens, tend to it as soon as possible. Urine etches the flooring, getting difficult to remove when dried.

Fill a container with warm water and dip a microfiber pad or cloth in it. Start from the edges and go into the center of the urine pool using the cloth. Never start in the middle as it spreads the liquid spill, making the cleanup harder.

For an older urine stain, you can make a marble poultice(7) to clean the floor. Make a poultice using a mild cleaner, kaolin, talc, molding plastic, powdered chalk, and whiting.

Spread the poultice on the urine stain and let it sit for up to two days. The cleaner lifts the stain while the whiting absorbs it. You can use the same paste to remove vomit stains too.

Can I polish marble flooring on my own?

It’s best to leave this task to the professionals, regardless of how good you are at DIY projects. If you try polishing the material yourself, you may end up damaging it. Repairing the floor will cost you much more than paying the professionals for polishing in the first place.

Mops Out!

If you installed marble floors to suit your aesthetic, it only makes sense to clean and care for them. In this guide, I’ve discussed the easy cleanup method you can use to clean your marble floors. Here’s a quick summary: sweep daily, mop monthly, and only use pH-neutral detergents.

If you take good care of your marble floors, they will last for years. Plus, they’ll look just as shiny and elegant as they did the day you installed them. Now, it’s time for you to get the dust mop out and let me know:

Share your cleaning and maintenance tips with me in the comments.

About the Author

Harold K. Hardesty

Harold is a Flooring Specialist at TheHouseWire, educating people on the flooring by writing guides about the topic. He is a well-seasoned flooring specialist with experience in the industry for nine years.

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