Stone Cleaning and Care
Natural stone surfaces, such as granite and marble, are hardwearing and one of the easiest to maintain. Proper care is necessary, however, to keep the surface looking new and avoid stains and etching. By following a few simple guidelines, you can ensure that your surface gleams and shines longer.
Sealing is the first step in any maintenance plan. The right seal will help protect the surface and prevent stains. Most stone will need to be sealed and then resealed annually. Check with the manufacturer guidelines to find out what sealer has been used and what they recommend. The type of sealer will depend on the surface preparation and the density and porosity of the stone.
Choose the Right Cleanser
For best results, only use pH-balanced cleansers, one that has a neutral pH level of 7.0, on natural stone. The term “pH” refers to the level of acidity or alkalinity in a solution. Cleansers that are high in alkaline are baking soda (pH 9), bleach (pH 11) and ammonia (pH 11). Cleansers that are highly acidic are lemon juice (pH 2.4) and vinegar (2.8). Alkaline and acidic cleansers can remove the natural polish and seal of the stone's surface. This can make the surface dull and allow new stains to penetrate and set more easily.
Most detergents and dishwashing liquid will work as they usually have a pH level of about 6.5. However, you will want to check to make sure that it does not contain any of the above ingredients, which can raise or lower the pH level.
Always wipe up spills and messes immediately using a soft cloth or sponge. The longer a substance sits on the surface the more damaging they become. Use a pH-balanced cleansers or special stone cleanser to remove any remaining material. Rinse the surface with water and dry with a soft, clean cloth. Do not allow water to sit on the surface as it can cause mineral deposits such as calcium, salt, or lime to build up on the surface.
Do not use any acidic-based, alkaline, soft paste, or window cleaners. Also, avoid cleansers that contain vinegar, alcohol, lemon juice, and ammonia. Do not use any abrasive cleaning pads such as steel wool, metal brushes, or scouring powders.
Occasional scrubbing may be necessary to remove surface build up of dirt or grime. Honed and slate surfaces will require scrubbing more often because their texture can hold dirt. A good quality sealer will help reduce this, but not eliminate it. Scrub the surfaces with a soft bristled brush and a mild cleanser, followed up by rinsing and drying the surface as you would with everyday cleaning.
Dealing with Stains
When dealing with stains, you may choose to use a heavy-duty cleanser or a poultice. Heavy-duty cleansers are usually highly acidic or alkaline and should only be used as a last resort. It is also important to choose cleansers from a good manufacturer and test it in an inconspicuous area first.
A poultice a paste-like product that can either draws the stain out of the stone or pushes it down into the stone away from the surface. To use, it is applied to the surface, covered with a piece of plastic, and allowed to set. Whenever these products are used, it is important to follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Otherwise, you could end up doing more damage to the surface or permanently setting the stain.
Polishing stones and pads can be purchased at most local hardware stores and will help fix damage done by chemicals. There are also kits available that have several polishing products in one box. These should only be used for small areas. Larger areas should be handled by a professional.